It will soon be possible for businesses in Ghana to export their wares and receive payment through the Internet. This will happen when the e-commerce window on the National Switch becomes operational later this year.

Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), which was set up to reform the country?s payment system, has set up the e-commerce window as part of the National Switch.? The e-commerce platform will be available for private sector businesses to enable them make and receive payments online for whatever service or product they offer.

It has become possible for people resident in Ghana to order and pay for items through the Internet, but the reverse has been a challenge because of the absence of requisite infrastructure to support such electronic transactions.

Business analysts at a forum on electronic payment, organised for member-countries of the West African Monetary Zone, say the one-way traffic for e-commerce only means that Ghana is increasing its import through e-commerce with no infrastructure to support export through the same Internet.

But in an interview, the Chief Executive Officer of GhIPSS Archie Hesse said sooner than later, businesses in Ghana will also be able to sell their wares and receive payment via the Internet. The e-commerce platform will also be available for businesses to sell and receive payments online within Ghana.

Mr. Hesse said the platform is ready and has been interfaced with government?s system.? He added that shortly the banks will also connect, which will make it possible for businesses to use the platform to make and receive payment online.

E-commerce has revolutionised the purchase of items in advanced economies, with trickle-down effects on businesses such as transport and logistics as well as the proliferation of knowledge-based businesses.

Mr. Hesse is hopeful Ghana will soon be reaping the benefits of e-commerce. He stressed that GhIPSS is only providing the infrastructure that will be at the disposal of the private sector once their banks are hooked onto the system.

The CEO of GhIPSS anticipates that when the e-commerce infrastructure is operational, foreigners who want to buy various products from Ghana can do so online. ?Our artifacts and other indigenous products can be advertised and sold online, and I expect this to drive sales significantly and thus end the one-way traffic,? Mr. Hesse added.?

He acknowledged the desire of many to see e-commerce take root in Ghana and pledged GhIPSS?s commitment to work closely with the banks to make this a reality within the shortest possible time.

GhIPSS is in talks with both MasterCard and Visa intended to enable the National Switch provider to offer various services for facilitating payments, including providing services on behalf of these international cards.

Already, a number of companies and small firms advertise their products online; implying that the coming into operation of the e-commerce platform will set in motion a new way of doing business in Ghana.

Following the establishment of GhIPSS by the Central Bank, payments systems have seen significant changes including electronic clearing of cheques, payment of salaries and other emoluments through the Automated Clearing House system and the e-zwich Payment Distribution System.

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