The banking public has embraced the gh-link platform as available data indicate that more and more customers are using the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) of other banks, a development made possible by the new national electronic payment platform.
Figures made public by Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) show that use of ATMs of banks other than the customer’s own bank has jumped by close to 600 percent from 7,389 transactions in the month of January this year to 49,349 transactions last month.
The data further indicates that on a weekly basis over 13,000 transactions take place currently, compared to about 1,400 in the first week of January this year. The value of the transactions also follow the same pattern, having increased from over 800,000 in the month of January to over GH¢5.9million last month.
The jump in usage of gh-link AMTs shows the banking public is patronising the convenience that the interbank payment platform has provided since its introduction about a year ago.
The gh-link is an electronic platform that connects 27 financial institutions including three savings and loans companies, implying that customers of any of these banks can use the ATMs of the member-banks. The gh-link connects close to a thousand ATMs, making it the biggest and the most convenient platform compared to Visa and Mastercard in Ghana.
The platform currently accepts only local cards, but officials of GhiPSS say discussions have been held and shortly MasterCard-branded electronic cards will also be added. Visa is also expected to join soon. It is also anticipated that Rural and Community banks will come on board.
Speaking in an interview, the Head of Business Development at GhIPSS Mary Dei Sarpong noted that gh-link is becoming the preferred platform because of the almost one thousand ATMs that local ATM card holders can access. She explained that the migration of Savings and Loans Companies such as Ezi, First National and EB-ACCION — and others soon to follow — indicates that customers of these savings and loans companies can use the ATMS of universal banks and vice versa.
“The era when people went round in search of their bank’s ATM is becoming a thing of the past, because the nearest available ATM can be accessed,” she indicated.
It took a lot of effort by the Bank of Ghana for banks to share a common platform, as previous efforts could not materialise because some banks thought others would unduly benefit from their large number of ATMs. The data showed that the top-most patronised ATMs by other bank customers are outlets owned by Ecobank, Societe General Ghana, Agriculture Development Bank, and Zenith bank.
Mrs. Dei Sarpong stated further that with the gh-link, banks which do not have ATM outlets in some parts of the country can rely on the outlets of other banks to provide services to their customers.
She said the level of growth in the use of gh-linked AMTs is an indication that customers appreciate convenience, and urged financial institutions to continue working to create more convenience for their customers. The GhIPSS Business Development Manager urged customers with local ATM cards to save time by using the nearest available ATMs and benefit from the technology.
GhIPSS is also working at converting the ATMs into hybrids, implying that they will also accept e-zwich cards. It is anticipated that gh-link, which provides a wider platform, will become so fashionable that banks will prefer to issue their local cards instead of the non-proprietary ones.