Sierra Leone: National Payment Switch is live now!

In a press release dated April 29, 2023, the Bank of Sierra Leone announced that the National Payment Switch has gone live. The National Payment Switch is a platform that facilitates interconnection and interoperability between the payment channels of various players, including commercial banks, microfinance institutions, mobile money operators, and fintechs. The switch is expected to move Sierra Leone into a cashless economy. 

Commercial banks, including Ecobank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Rokel Commercial Bank, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, Union Trust Bank, and United Bank for Africa, now have access. According to the Acting Bank Governor, Dr. Ibrahim L. Stevens, the switch will ensure direct transactions between accounts of different banks, transactions between wallets of different mobile money operators and bank accounts, and settlement of funds for transactions across schemes and between schemes and banks.  

Bank of Sierra Leone said that customers with cards issued by any of these banks could use their cards on the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) of any other banks listed. They can also use Point of Sale (POS) terminals operated by Guaranty Trust Bank and Ecobank. 

It will be owned and managed by the Bank of Sierra Leone and will roll out in three phases. The first phase involves ATMs and POS, the second phase will interoperate mobile money operators, other fintech, and bank accounts, and the third phase focuses on international payments.

The National Payment Switch will be officially launched on May 3, 2023, by H.E Brig. (Rtd) Dr. Julius Mada Bio, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. If all goes well, the National Revenue Authority will benefit from the switch through more automated revenue collection, while banks and other payment systems will reduce costs and improve security. 

“It will also reduce the queues in banks,” an official from the bank said.

Sierra Leone’s journey towards a cashless economy has been gaining momentum. The announcement of the National Payment Switch is just the latest in a series of initiatives to transform the country’s financial landscape. In recent years, the government has launched several initiatives to encourage cashless transactions, including a mobile money platform and the introduction of e-banking services.

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