Wednesday, 21 February

'Ghana’s payment systems robust, interoperable' – BoG

Bank of Ghana (BoG)

Ghana has "robust and interoperable" payment systems where the country's Real Time Gross Settlement Systems and the National Switch "continue to provide the catalytic infrastructures needed in ensuring connected payment systems", Bank of Ghana Governor Ernest Addison has said.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Bankers' Governor's Day, Dr Addison said: "We have cards, mobile money wallets and bank accounts that are interoperable and have supported our instant payments."

The net result of these initiatives, Dr Addison noted, "is evidenced by the increased speed, easy access, transparency, and reduction in cost of transactions".

He said inasmuch as the use of digital technologies "continues to change the business models of our financial institutions, these digital technologies also are important sources of cyber risk among these institutions".

Cybersecurity risks, Dr Addison pointed out, "can impair operational capabilities and even threaten the viability of financial institutions".

To forestall such activities from weakening the digitisation drive, the BoG Governor said the central bank issued the Cyber and Information Security Directive in 2018 to create a secure cyber environment for banks and other Bank of Ghana-regulated financial institutions and ensure the delivery of "a safe digital financial Industry."

Further to this, he said the central bank, in collaboration with other stakeholders, initiated the Financial Industry Command Security Operations Centre (FICSOC) project in November 2020 to address cyber risks on a broader level.

The FICSOC was formally launched in 2023 and serves as a threat intelligence-sharing platform designed for secure sharing and collaboration, as well as to facilitate the analysis and prioritisation of risks, the allocation of resources, and the understanding of threats tailored to each regulated financial institution and the banking industry.

Until 2022, however, t.Dr Addison revealed thar the Ghanaian domestic payment system had not been directly linked to any of the other West African countries nor any African country for that matter.

This situation, he observed, "led to payment transactions meant for other African countries terminating outside the continent before reaching those countries which may be neighbours".

In 2020, he said the G20 Leaders endorsed the Roadmap for Enhancing Cross-border Payments, which provided the foundation for the central bank's engagements and collaborations for development of cross-border payments in West Africa.

Building on this roadmap, Dr Addison said the West African Monetary Zone, through the support of Afreximbank’s Pan African Payment and Settlement Systems (PAPSS), linked the Real Time Gross Settlement Systems (RTGS) of member central banks.

This singular initiative, he explained, "was geared towards reducing the cost of transactions, improving access, and minimising the use of third currency for intra African trade".

Additionally, he said through the Association of African Central Banks’ (AACB) Task Force on Payment Systems Integration and its two Working Groups, African central banks have pursued initiatives aimed at streamlining compliance to minimise cost of foreign exchange conversion as well as manage financial risks better.

To navigate the transition from regional to international digitisation, Dr Addison said the AACB, through its Payment Systems Integration Task Force, has committed to ensuring harmonisation of payment and settlement systems regulations, building a Pan-African Payment platform, and leveraging existing payment technologies.

Looking ahead, he said the central bank "will continue to engage industry actors to develop forward-looking policy frameworks in the areas of digital and open banking. 

He mentioned that financial technologies "can alter the financial sector landscape for the better", adding: "The Bank of Ghana remains committed to promoting innovation in the delivery of financial services and in this regard, will continue to monitor risks and opportunities for banks, payment service providers, and consumers to thrive in the digital financial ecosystem".