Wednesday, August 1, 2007

payment systems

On the Ghana ICT blog, we will look at how emerging technology, and the platforms and services they enable affect our country, Ghana, herself and emerging economy. In this first post, I want to bring up the issue of identity and payment systems, which I am beginning to see a lot more in the news.

The Bank of Ghana has selected Net1 U.E.P.S. Technologies Incorporated, SmartSwitch Nigeria's parent company, for the supply, development and implementation of that country's new national switch and smart card payment system.

In picking Net1, the apex bank's vision is to provide the Ghanaian financial services industry access to a state of the art technological platform that will allow for the sharing of all existing payment instruments and introduce a smart card system designed to deliver affordable financial services to Ghanaians


Earlier in the month, ECOBANK introduced an unsecured credit card product into the Ghanaian market.

Known as the ECOBANK Visa Gold Credit Card, it is basically an unsecured credit card that provides a line of credit without having to put any money upfront to secure the debt, unlike the secured credit card.


In the past, what had prevented products like this from getting onto the market, I believe, had to do with (and still not addressed, pun unintended) the lack of a proper addressing and identification system in the country?

Does the introduction of these products/services into the market mean these companies have found some way of building a seemingly "leaky abstraction" on top of what is currently in place, and found it to be able to cater for ways of tracking down people who borrow and refuse to pay? I find that quite interesting, because it opens up the opportunity to build applications that required that these same addressing/identity issues be solved first; it is certainly non-trivial, and the 'problem', I think, still exists... still, this will be interesting

Meanwhile, the Credit Reporting Act, 2007 (Act 729) was passed in April this year.

This Credit Reporting Act is designed to promote the orderly development of a credit reporting system for Ghana and to promote public trust in credit bureau operations. Specifically, the Act provides for the licensing of private credit bureaus (and gives the Bank of Ghana the authority to set up a public credit bureau), regulates the activities of credit bureaus, establishes guiding principles for the conduct of the credit reporting system, and provides for credit data submission, data management and protection, and dissemination. It seeks to strike a balance between the rights of borrowers on the one hand, and the need to share credit information effectively, on the other.

source: Bank of Ghana

As the theme goes, sound laws, technology, and effective policies will spur the introduction of much needed services in our growing economy. The winds, they certainly are a-blowing :)


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