Bank of Sierra Leone to Launch National Payment Switch

During a Press Conference held on Wednesday 29th April 2023, at the Sam Bangura Building on Siaka Stevens Street in Freetown, it was revealed that the Government of Sierra Leone, through the Bank of Sierra Leone, will be launching the National Payment Switch on 29th April 2023.

According to the Acting Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Ibrahim Stevens, the switch is a platform that facilitates interconnection and interoperability between payment channels of various players in the financial landscape. These players include commercial banks, microfinance institutions, mobile money operators and a host of FinTechs.

He furthered that the National Payment Switch, when launched, will allow all debit and credit cards currently being used to be used on the National Switch, adding that once it goes live, it will ensure direct transactions between accounts of different banks, direct transactions between wallets of different mobile money operators, direct transactions between wallets of different mobile money operators and bank accounts and settlement of funds for transactions across schemes, between schemes and banks etc.

He maintained that the Switch makes provision for buyers (users) and sellers of financial products and services to make transactions across access channels such as automatic teller machines, points of sale etc. stating that the Switch will route all transactions irrespective of the cards used on a Central National Payment Switch for settlement at the Bank of Sierra Leone.

He informed the Press that the National Payment Switch, which is owned and managed by the Bank of Sierra Leone, will go live on Saturday 29th April, 2023 and will be operationalize in three (3) phases. Phase 1: Card Switching which involves ATMs and POSs interoperability.

He added that during this Phase, one can conduct transactions on any ATM or POS regardless of the bank card or bank account one has.

With regards to Phase 2 , which is instant payment he said  that Phase  will interoperate Mobile Money Operators (MOs), other Fintechs and bank accounts such that customers can make instant payments using any of facilities from any location and for  Phase 3 it relates to International Payments.

According to him, the go live dates of the last two Phases will be communicated in due course.

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