GH-Link EMV Standard Technology: ARB Apex Bank Leads The Way
The ARB Apex Bank Limited, a mini central bank with the primary responsibility to administer and promote the operational activities of all Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) has unveiled electronic banking products for the rural and community banks.The changing demands of customers for a more flexible, transparent and easy banking experience, which is changing the landscape for financial institutions, is compelling many to evolve and develop digital banking technologies. ARB Apex Bank has an administrative responsibility to ensure that the RCBs are not left out in the integration with the payment systems in Ghana.ARB Apex Bank has also completed works on the mobile banking platform and ATMs which have been named U-Connect and U-Cash respectively.
The electronic platform that has been rolled out seeks to enable rural and community banks take their businesses to the next level with the use of cards and other payment technologies. It will also enable secure and reliable interoperability between the rural banks, ARB Apex Bank, and the universal banks which will eventually expand the clientele base of rural banks through e-payments interoperability.
The product will give a customer-centric image to the RCBs, help improve the income and deposit generation potentials of the RCBs as well as aligning RCBs with the present and future trends to enable them continue to remain as competitive business entities. On the U-Connect platform, subscribers will be able to transfer funds to customer accounts across the rural banks as well as to the accounts of customers of other commercial banks.
A wallet which is based on the subscriber’s mobile number, is also available for the unbanked for cash transfers and cash out at all rural and community banks along with purchasing mobile phone credit from the various telecommunication networks. The U-Connect app can be downloaded from the market place with activation short code *976# that can run on any basic phone.
The ARB Apex Bank is the first local bank to issue a domestic card which employs Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) standards with CHIP and PIN for transactions.So far, twenty-five (25) ATMs have been installed across the country by 13 rural banks, and there are plans to roll out100 ATMs in 2018.
Apex Bank has deployed a system where the ATM Cards are issued to customers instantly. A customer who walks to any banking hall of a rural bank to request a card is expected to receive same within 10 minutes. The customer is also given the opportunity of selecting the PIN for the card during the process of registration and acquisition.The platform is connected to the gh-link network and holders of gh-link cards from other commercial banks can perform transactions on the ATMs. Similarly, RCBs card holders can perform transactions on ATMs of other commercial banks which accept e-Zwich cards (Flexi ATM). As the ATMs become fully functional, the platform will be upgraded to acquire international cards and Point-of-Sale (POS) transactions to expand the reach of the card usage.
It is believed that these projects would offer rural banks’ customers the convenience of multiple channels in performing banking business on Dispensers and Point of Sale Terminals 24/7 across the length and breadth of Ghana.The Managing Director of ARB Apex Bank, Mr Kojo Mattah, has assured all rural and community banks that the ARB Apex Bank would not require a deposit margin account as cover for liquidity needs of customers as pertains in arrangements with some other banks.
With the RCB ATM platform, since the ATM dispensers are connected to the T24 core banking software, the transactions are processed in real time and effected on the customer’s account instantly. There is no need to maintain a fully-funded account with any third party as a requirement before ATM transactions can go through.
Apart from that, there would be no challenges with reconciliation of customer accounts as the RCBs ATM transaction settlements would be done by the ARB Apex Bank through the RCBs clearing accounts daily.
Mr Mattah, concluding his address at the launching ceremony, urged all stakeholders of this laudable initiative to take pride in having accounts with RCBs because “from now on, this should go with some pride as ARB Apex Bank and the RCBs are poised to give our customers the quality of service that they would get elsewhere”. Mr Mattah further reiterated that “we all come from one village or another and when we travel to our villages and towns to distress from the hustle and bustle of city life, the RCBs are there to provide us with convenient banking needs”.