InterSwitch initiates Operation Cashless

Posted On November 16, 2005 | Written by Emmanuel Oluwatosin

InterSwitch Limited, electronic transaction switching and payment processing company, in its bid to promote card based transactions has launched Operation Cashless initiative. The launch is a turning point in the campaign to bring banks and financial institutions to work together to achieve sole purpose of driving the country towards a cashless society.

According to Mitchell Elegbe, managing Director, InterSwitch, Operation Cashless seeks to achieve among other things, the promotion of the use of Nigeria debit card, awareness creation about the availability of channels where electronic transactions can be performed. These channels are Point of Sale (POS) terminals, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Internet and mobile.

Operation cashless is being launched alongside the deployment of PoS terminals in the country. The terminals act as a complement to the ATMs which are already running. InterSwitch has appointed nine Independent Service Organisations (ISOs) to work in conjunction with the banks on the InterSwitch consortium to appoint merchants and deploy the PoS terminals at strategic locations.

Also Operation Cashless seeks to take into consideration the non banking populace. For the non banking category, cash cards will be introduced into the market and hence these people can transact with the card in the usual way as with the Nigeria debit card. Prior to mergers and acquisitions, there are 33 banks on the InterSwitch network which are currently issuing debit cards.

Elegbe is however optimistic that mergers will not affect the process as the number of transactions will not reduce despite reduction in the number of banks in operation. According to him: “on the contrary, banks will now have a lot of money to give out more cards.”

There are currently 1.2 million active cards in circulation in the country. InterSwitch and the certified ISOs plan to deploy 50,000 PoS terminals across the country in the next three years. According to Bayo Adeokun, chief executive officer, Electronic PayPlus Limited, one of the ISOs, security measures have been put in place to ensure that the PoS terminals are tamper-free.

We have adopted international best practices and the usual things such as firewalls and passwords,” he said.

The ISOs, which must be backed by a CBN accredited bank will provide support services, buy and deploy PoS terminals create awareness and enable merchants view their transactions online via the Internet. The PoS terminals can be rolled out anywhere in the country where there is GSM or GPRS network.

Enumerating the benefits of Operation Cashless, Elegbe noted that it will reduce the incidences of armed robbery as Nigerians will not carry cash around, exposing themselves to robbery. It will also reduce pilfering by staff of the PoS merchant because every transaction will be through the terminal while also ensuring that there will not be cases of fake currency. The difference between the InterSwitch PoS terminals and the current terminals in use is that transaction with the InterSwitch terminals is online while the merchant would need to open an ePurse when using the other terminal because it is offline.

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