Ecobank has advocated collaboration among banking partners and regional financial regulators in West Africa to strengthen the payment system. Ecobank Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Arnold Ekpe stated this at the Inter Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) Regional Policy Workshop on Payment Systems and Cash Couriers in West Africa.
According to Ekpe such collaboration would help overcome challenges like currency convertibility, cumbersome import and export procedures and inadequate information and communication technology platforms that have continued to challenge effective regional payments and trade.
Represented by Ecobank Group Head, Corporate Banking Products, Mr. Oti Ikomi, Ekpe said there is the need for more integrated Regional Payment platforms, to facilitate trade across ECOWAS and the wider Africa continent.
He said the Ecobank Group Switch (Exchange) is an example ofÂ a Regional Payment solution that has aided the speedy transfer of cash with ease across countries in Africa via the Rapid Transfer Service, while the Ecobank Regional Card makes it easy for payments to avoid cash carrying and obtain cash in local currency at point of need. Both services available currently in 26 countries in Africa .Also speaking the Director General of GIABA, Dr. Abdullahi Shehu, said there was the urgent need to increase awareness among stakeholders on the problem of cash transactions and cash courier in West Africa .
He maintained that due to problems discovered with the use of cash in transactions over the cause of time, many countries have moved their economies away from the dominance of cash as a medium of exchange to non-cash payment systems.
He reiterated that though cash in form of currencies remain strategically important to trade, they present a unique challenge in the identification, tracking and recovery of laundered proceeds of crime. In his words â€œin ECOWAS region, cash transactions represent a unique challenge due to the fact that non-cash payment systems are inadequateâ€.