A plan to pay all National Service Scheme (NSS) allowance on e-zwich cards could have averted the fraud the scheme is engulfed in, if a pilot project that was initiated was extended to cover the entire country.
While the BNI continues with its investigation, it has emerged that a pilot project to pay NSS allowance on e-zwich card that begun in 2010 and covered about 17 districts has not been carried through.
Instead, the number of districts covered under the pilot fell to four.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems, Archie Hesse, said the decision to reduce the number of districts covered had nothing to do with GhIPSS, since they were only service providers.
He said with the payment of allowances on the biometric smart card, it would have prevented impersonation and creation of ghost names and makes it impossible for officials to pay monies to a different account and access it later.
This is because with the e-zwich biometric card, all fingers of a cardholder are scanned during enrolment and the templates stored on the client card.
When performing any transaction, the e-zwich device whether an ATM or a Point of sale terminal, would demand the verification of the cardholder by comparing the fingerprint presented on the device scanner to any of those stored on the card.
Mr Hesse said the decision to pilot the payment of NSS allowance on e-zwich was partly to ensure that the monies went to the right persons, saying NSS inability to expand the project to cover the entire nation, had not been helpful.
He said GhIPSS had made various suggestions to the Scheme, which are yet to be carried out.
Mr Hesse expressed the hope that the payment of allowances on the biometric card would be revisited and expanded, in order to ensure a clean and transparent payroll.
Asked about proposed plans to pay public sector workers? salaries on the biometric card, Mr Hesse said GhIPSS is pursuing that with the Comptroller and Accountant General?s Department.
The GhIPSS CEO said government could make significant savings on payroll associated waste and fraud, if e-zwich was used to pay salaries.
?By its biometric nature and the fact that it provides electronic audit trail of every transaction, makes it a great tool to fight the canker of ghost names,? he said.
He said the payment of student loans on e-zwich is expanding year on year while government?s recent decision to pay beneficiaries of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty on the biometric card, on a pilot basis is moving on steadily.
On complaints of difficulty in accessing e-zwich services, Mr Hesse said a directive by Bank of Ghana to banks to offer e-zwich services at all their branches has significantly ease access to the service.
He said GhIPSS in collaboration with Ecobank and other banks are converting existing ATMs to enable them accept e-zwich cards.
Besides, the current rollout of hybrid Point of Sales terminals has also increased the number of outlets to use the biometric card.
Mr Hesse said the e-zwich provides the country with unique solution to address payroll fraud, adding that some private companies which are using it have uncovered fraud and made savings.