Malawi testing SADC/Comesa e-payment systems

By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi

While Malawi is hosting the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) summit, it has been established it is in the process of testing banking transactions using two regional electronic payment systems.

The systems are under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and SADC.

The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) spokesperson, Mbane Ngwira, said the country will soon fully go live on the two systems which will greatly facilitate international trade and expected to cut costs.

He described the process as the testing phase of the implementation of both systems.

“There have not been any major problems in the implementation of the two regional payment systems,” he is quoted as saying.

Ngwira also explained that after successfully testing the systems they will engage the business community on a sensitisation campaign before the system would be ready for launching.

“RBM has made progress and has already opened two accounts in dollars and euros. What is remaining now is to connect to commercial banks,” he said.

The development is also captured in RBM’s Payment Systems 2012 Annual Report which says the Sadc Integrated Regional Electronic Settlement System (Siress) is a project being developed to settle transactions including real time credit transfers, interbank loans and foreign exchange deals.

On the other hand, the Comesa’s Regional Electronic Payment Settlement System (Repss) will support intra-regional trade through gross real time settlement hence economic growth within the region according the report.

“It will also be used for Sadc direct debits, Sadc card and ATMs, and Sadc securities,” the report says before noting that the Siress legal agreements on the project were scheduled to end end-February 2013 but go on live preparation by July 19 and go live by July 22.

According to the report stakeholders are currently reviewing participants’ agreements with the Comesa clearing, final test runs are earmarked for June 2013 and the country is expected to operationalise Repss by end August 2013.

Repss clearing house is located in Zimbabwe but stakeholders appointed the Central Bank of Mauritius as the settlement agent but local banks within participating member countries access the system through their domestic central banks, the report says.

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