Commercial banks in the country are charging their customers more than 1000 percent of the GH¢1.50 they pay to the clearing house, the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Limited (GhIPSS), for express cheque clearing services.
Checks by the B&FT reveal that Barclays Bank charges a fixed rate of GH¢40 for same-day cheque clearing, otherwise known as express cheque clearing. Ecobank charges GH¢25 for a cheque value of GH₵2,000 while Stanbic bank charges GH¢30 for a cheque valued at GH¢1,500.
GhIPSS in 2013 introduced the express cheque clearing service as an addition to the existing standard cheque clearing service to provide a quicker option for the banking public to get value for their cheques on the same day a cheque is paid into their accounts.
The cheques are, however, expected to be paid in before 11 am for the account of the payee to be credited by 2pm.
Chief Executive Officer of GhIPSS Mr. Archie Hesse said: “We charge GH¢1.50 for express cheque clearing. We have done a survey to find out how much the banks charge for express cheques clearing. We found that it ranges between GH¢20 to somewhere around GH¢50. Some are not fixed but based on the amount you want to clear”.
He added that: “We are very keen to ensure that while we charge the minimum, the banks do not charge exorbitant prices which might ultimately affect how users opt for it”.
GhIPSS’ data indicate that more and more people are opting for the convenience of same-day cheques clearing, though they are charged a premium by their respective banks. In 2014, there was a 240 percent increase in the use of express cheque clearing services, with a value increase of some 440 percent.
“This means that individuals with higher cheque values have migrated from standard next day service to same-day service.”
He noted that if the banks’ price is very high, the number of people opting for the express cheques will decrease.
Cheque clearing worldwide is on the decline but Ghana is experiencing a growth in the area.
Mr. Hesse said: “What we have observed is that because cheques are clearing faster now in Ghana, businessmen and individuals are still happy to accept cheques as a mode of payment. Six percent increase in normal cheques in 2014 is marginal, but the fact that it still has increased at all means there is still an appetite for individuals to use cheques”.
Worldwide, cheque payments are proving difficult to abolish altogether. For instance, the UK Payments Council found that they could not come up with alternative solutions that consumer groups, SMEs and politicians would accept. The Council agreed that cheque payments will continue as long as customers need them.
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