Shopping outlets including petroleum filling stations, restaurants and pharmacies are being urged to warm up to payments by cards, as Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) gets set to introduce the hybrid Point of Sales (POS) devices onto the market.

GhIPSSis encouraging shopping centres, filling stations and pharmacies to make arrangements to get these POSs so that their customers can use their normal ATM cards to make payments directly. The use of cards to make payment means that these outlets can afford to extend their opening hours without fear of robbery attacks, since they can limit sales to only payment by cards after late hours.

Currently, the POS devices either accept only e-zwich cards or foreign-branded electronic payment cards such as Visa and MasterCard. But in a matter of weeks, POSs which can accept the normal ATMs as well as e-zwich cards will be deployed in shops. This means that banks? local ATM cards will work in these POSs for payment of goods and services in shops and wherever they are placed.

GhIPSS has already begun piloting the new hybrid in its offices, and various payments made to the Bank of Ghana subsidiary are receivable on the POS. Within the next week, about 9 of such POSs will be placed at key shopping centres as part of the pilot. The number of POSs will then be increased to over 300 within a month until the market is populated with them.

Speaking in an interview, the Business Development Manager at GhIPSS Mrs. Mary Dei-Sarpong said besides the POSs that GhIPSS will deploy on its own, banks and shop owners can acquire their own POSs.? She explained that because of the large number of people who have local ATM cards the usage of POSs will be significantly high, and therefore urged shop owners to arrange to have them. Various transactional fees could accrue to the shop owners due to POS depending on whether they own it or not.

Mrs. Dei-Sarpong said GhIPSS is willing and ready to advise shops, fuel stations and pharmacies how to obtain the POS.? She said the benefit of using cards to make payments is enormous as they are easy to carry and the fear of losing cash through theft or other incidents is no longer an issue. She noted that in the past fuel stations, restaurants and pharmacies could operate 24 hours and made more money, but the incidence of robbery now prevents them from doing so.

She said, with the card, these shops can decide to limit sales to payment by cards after 10pm and operate for 24 hours without fear of losing cash to robbery attacks.

The Business Development Manager also said instances wherein people could not shop because they either forgot to take money or could not access an ATM outlet are also going to be a thing of the past, as people with ATM cards can walk into shops and pay with their cards. She therefore urged shop owners to deploy these POSs as they are bound to increase their sales.

It is the practice in most developed countries that people make payments with electronic cards, but this culture has eluded Ghana up to now. Mrs. Dei Sarpong however said Ghana is now joining the list of nations wherein electronic cards are prevalent. She indicated that the POSs can be used for third party processes, such as payment of bills, which can earn additional income for shop owners. Another benefit of using of cards, she noted, is the fact it prevents pilfering by shop attendants as payments made directly hit the shop?s bank account.

GhIPSS will provide support services to ensure that these POSs are in good shape all the time. She said that cash transactions are not going to end, but the introduction of payment by card is going to provide the public with an alternative that brings a lot of convenience and security.
The hybrid POSs will for a start accept local cards and e-zwich cards, but will accept MasterCard and Visa in the near-future.

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