All bank customers are expected to be issued with gh-link cards before the end of this year, the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Limited (GhIPSS) has stated.

This, however, does not prevent them from getting an international card. The new development will give customers the option to decide which card to use for their transactions instead of being limited to international cards only.

gh-link is the generic name for domestic cards in Ghana issued by the various banks, and Ghana allows the use of both domestic and international bank cards. But some financial institutions do not issue domestic cards, placing their customers at a disadvantage. 

However, this is set to change from the beginning of next year. Banks earlier this year agreed that all local bank account holders should be issued with gh-link cards by December 2019. 

They also agreed to ensure that by July this year, all their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sales (PoS) and e-commerce would be gh-link compliant. 

The need for banks to issue all their local account holders with gh-link cards follows a global trend towards domestic scheme cards. 

Nigeria, India, Brazil and Malaysia are notable examples of countries where domestic schemes cards are making super inroads with obvious benefits to their economies.

Experts have explained that the world is now leaning towards domestic cards for domestic transactions because domestic cards cost less to process and therefore users pay less as charges. 

Research conducted by Andrew Veitch and Professor Jürgen Bott showed that costs from domestic schemes average only 45% of the cost of using international cards for domestic transactions and because about 95% of all transactions tend to be domestic, the cost issue makes a big difference to overall bank costs. 

There are other researches of domestic schemes running at 25% of the level of the international players. This makes the use of international cards for domestic transactions an undue burden on the customer especially.

Market watchers also say that domestic schemes seem to better understand local customers’ behaviour and are able to develop services that would mostly work for these markets. While international scheme cards normally provide generic services, domestic cards are tailored to the needs of the specific market they operate in. 

When reached for his comments, the Chief Executive of Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Archie Hesse commended the banks for the decision and said GhIPSS will work with them to ensure its success.

With the new decision by the banks, customers can now use international cards for international transactions and the gh-link cards for all their domestic transactions.