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Rural and community banks in Ghana will by June this year be hooked onto a technology platform to transact money remittance services via mobile telecom networks.
This is part of measures being introduced by the Apex Bank of the Association of Rural Banks (ARB) to assist the rural banks to be efficient in the money transfer business.
Managing Director of the Apex Bank, Kwadwo Aye Kusi, says the technology will enable the banks to be integrated to all the telecommunication networks for susu operations, money transfer, purchase of airtime credit and SMS alert services.
“Therefore the products that we’re going to come up with will not be limited to one telecom company but every customer of ours can do mobile money business”, he told LuvBiz Report.
The ARB Apex Bank has also introduced measure to reduce delays arising out of remotely processing money transfer transactions under the Western Union and Apexlink money transfer services.
Since its inception in 2003, the Apexlink money transfer product has chalked successes, from its manual processing to the current automated ‘itrans’ platform.
“The volume of Apexlink transactions processed through our networks has improved considerable over the years. From 190,917 transactions recorded in 2009, the product has grown to achieve a 589,164 transaction level by the end of 2012”, stated Mr. Kusi at the Apex Bank’s Money Transfer Conference in Kumasi.
Transactions through Western Union on the Apex network also increased over the years, from 96,307 in 2009 to 230,581 transactions recorded in 2012 and a targeted level of 323,000 transactions for 2013.
Mr. Kusi announced the abolishing of the commission sharing arrangements that exist between Apex Bank and the rural banks, stating that the rural banks would be given 100% commission on all Western Union transactions processed.
He told LuvBiz Report the decision to abolish the commission is to encourage all the banks to undertake more of the money transfer business to benefit rural economies.
“Apexlink and Western Union money transfers have supported the economic growth in our rural communities in assisting traders in their daily money transfer operations capitalizing on its large network across the country”, he noted.
“Trade has been tremendously boosted between the north and south of the country where traders find it more secured and convenient to send funds by Apexlink than traveling with such funds with all its attendant risk. This has helped increase the level of economic activities in rural communities”.
The conference was on the theme: “Handling Remittance Business with Care – Risk and Compliance Issues”.
Concerns were raised about the vulnerability of the rural and community banks to fall prey to unscrupulous transactions in money remittances.
The Apex Bank has therefore announced some initiative to eliminate money laundering in the Apex money transfer system.
“Compliance and Anti Money Laundering officers would soon be appointed to monitor and prevent the use of our money transfer system for any kind of money laundering activity… In order to eliminate identity fraud on the network, the Bank will soon be connected to the national ID verification platform to verify all voters ID presented for money transfer transactions” Mr. Kusi stated.