Did Bawumia ‘cancel’ GH4.6bn Sitonswitch contract in his speech?

Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has backed the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Limited (GhIPSS) to execute a break-through plan which should make it possible for mobile phone users to send money electronically across different networks.

GhIPSS has been in competition with another company, Sibtonswitch to create the electronic platform described in mouthful as ‘interoperability’.

Although GhIPSS is an agency under the Central Bank, it appeared to have been snubbed by its own creator, the Bank of Ghana in favour of a private entity, Sibtonswitch.

The Bank of Ghana last year, invited restricted bids for the Ghana Retail Payment System (GPRS) job and selected Sibtonswitch.

The award of the Ȼ4.6bn contract to a 14-months old company became the subject of huge media interest.

According to reports, industry players – telcos and bankers have privately expressed displeasure at the introduction of a new player. Some felt they were being pressurised into a new and unnecessary arrangement.

There were also threats of court action to declare the contract illegal because of “a legion of violations” found in the process of awarding the contract.

Weighing in on the controversy, the Vice-President appears to have dropped hints in his remarks about which of the two agencies should implement a one-stop shop for all electronic payments across different financial and non-financial institutions.

“I believe that GhIPSS is in a very unique position to bring the banks and the telcos together to make their platforms interoperable, so that you can transfer money between the telcos and the banks very easily”.

The Vice-President in a speech delivered at the 5th Economic Outlook And Business Strategy conference last Wednesday.

Speaking at the Tang Palace hotel in Accra on 22nd march, 2017, the Vice-President and former deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana threw a challenge to GhiPSS and banks plus the telcos to make interoperability happen.

He said interoperability “is not rocket science”.

“If you put your minds to it this can be done in six months. It can be done” he said.

The Vice-President warned that “interoperability cannot be forced on the players” and urged stakeholders to come together to ensure greater financial inclusion in Ghana’s economy.