Ghana set to become first African country to launch a universal QR code payment

Ghana will be the first country in Africa to use a universal QR code payment system when the technology is launched later this month.

Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, who has been spearheading government’s formalisation of the economy through digitisation, revealed government’s readiness to roll out the universal QR code payment system next month during the opening of the maiden Mobile Technology 4 Development (MT4D) Conference in Accra on Tuesday.

During his recent Government Town Hall presentation in Kumasi, Dr. Bawumia also spoke about the QR Code.

“Thanks to the Bank of Ghana and Ghipss, Ghana will launch a universal QR Code payment system next month which will make it possible for all retailers to receive payments on their mobile phones without the need for the traditional point of sale device,” Dr. Bawumia said.

“This will apply to all retailers whether you are selling pure water, trotro service, or waakye. Ghana will be about the only country in Africa with a Universal QR Code payment system when it is launched next month. Singapore launched theirs only last month.”

The QR code is an abbreviation for Quick Response Code, a digital technology which has been around for some time now but made popular in 2011 when two payment apps, WeChat and Alipay started offering proprietary versions.

It has since been very popular outside China and a number of banks and businesses, including retailers in other countries, are taking full advantage.

As the government of Nana Akufo-Addo has embarked on a vigorous digitization agenda, it is not surprising that the government is ready to once again, set the pace in Africa with the QR Code payment system.

Using the QR Code, ( a two-dimensional code made up of black and white squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, point of sale (POS) terminals or other devices including ‘yam’ phones) is very simple and inexpensive for even retailers.

All that a shop or a retailer has to do is to use a sticker with a QR code or download the merchant app and create a QR code to accept digital payment.

Interestingly, both smart and ‘yam’ phones can pay through QR codes.

For customers with smart phones, all that they need to do is to scan the QR code displayed by the merchant or shop owner with their phones and then enter the amount to be be paid for goods they have bought.

For customers with ‘yam’ phones, they can pay through the QR code payment system by dialling a code that will be displayed at the seller’s end for payment to be effected.

As Dr. Bawumia announced, the Bank of Ghana and the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement System (GhIPSS) are key players for the implementation of the QR Code payment system in Ghana.

Regardless of one’s bank or mobile money wallet, GhIPSS will make it possible for customers to be able to scan any displayed QR Code in Ghana and effect payment instantly through their mobile phones.

As soon as payment is made by a customer through the QR Code payment system, the customer’s bank balance or mobile money wallet will be debited instantly, while that of the merchant will be instantly credited.

With the huge success of government’s other digitization drive such as the paperless systems at the DVLA, Passport Office, the Ports, Registrar General, etc., the QR code payment system is expected to bring another relief to millions of Ghanaians as far as their daily business transactions are concerned.