National Switch For Interoperability Ready

The national switch to facilitate the integration of mobile money payments and other transfers onto a single platform is almost ready for use.

This comes just days after Vice President, Dr Mahamoud Bawumia had given end of this year as deadline to make mobile money and other electronic payments interoperable. The state-of-the-art switch located in Accra with its Test Environment facility sited at the Bank of Ghana is expected to ensure that a subscriber to any telecommunication network is able to send money to different networks other than his.

The national platform is being built by Sibton Switch Systems after it won a contract from the Bank of Ghana to build and operate the facility under a public-private sector arrangement.

A recent visit to the facility shows the installation of both software and hardware at the Call Centre, the Data Centre, the Power Room and the Network Operation Centre have neared completion. The call centre is expected to respond to normal enquiries, validation of information with live-chat and call-in gadgets while the Data Centre houses the physical infrastructure for the switch’s hardware. The power room on the other hand houses stabilisers, UPS and regulate, measure and control power fluctuations and inflows and ensure interrupted power supply every hour of the day.

The physical monitoring of transactions takes place in the Network Operation Centre. Another unique feature of this switch is that it comes with as many as four backup facilities spread in different parts of the country and this was in response to the highly sensitive demands of the platform. Even though mobile money transactions occurs significantly in Ghana, intra networks are more common.

There are also challenges about revenue under-declaration, a situation which makes government loses so much of funds that are critically needed for developmental work. The introduction of the interoperability concept will bring all operators; telecommunication and banking firms as well as the regulator which is the Bank of Ghana under one platform for easy monitoring and for the expansion and growth of the financial inclusion strategy focusing on all segment of society especially the micro sector and the unbanked population.

When it takes off, the switch tightens up monitoring of money payment and transfer actual transactional volumes as well as declared profits That way, the actually size of volume or size of the mobile money or electronic payments will be known. The switch is also able to, through efficient monitoring, able to validate the profits and therefore the taxes to be paid to the state.

This also helps government to satisfy a pledge tgo block leakages in tax payments. A rather significant benefit of the interoperability concept is the potential for job creation. The switch itself will generate number of employment through its call centres as well as the rippling effect of expanding the scope of the financial inclusion strategy.

Equally important is the fact that the successful rollout of the interoperability concept will enable the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPPS) to improve on its operational capacity and scope of work while leveraging on its existing networks. It is unclear when the Bank of Ghana will give the greenlight for the eventual take-off of the mobile money interoperability.

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