Sierra Leone
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BSL schools journalists on national payment switch, financial inclusion 

Journalists from across the country at the workshop

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

 Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL), has yesterday Thursday June 8, engaged journalists ON the importance of the national switch and financial inclusion. They Bank also called on journalists to help the public know the impact of the process in the lives of Sierra Leoneans and the country’s economy as whole.

President Julius Maada Bio, in May officially launched the National Payment Switch which is a gateway system to payment solutions in Sierra Leone.

The National Payment Switch is a technology that facilitates bulk cashless payment in the fastest possible time and also promotes financial inclusion.

Speaking at a one day workshop for training of media practitioners on the ‘Salon’ payment switch, Deputy Governor of Bank of Sierra Leone Alhaji Yayah Sesay said digital transformation in the financial services simply means the changes on how financial services are delivered and access globally.

He said in Sierra Leone, the effort to invest in and make technology the driver of financial inclusion and delivery is very much in progress and it involves various forms of technology.

He said knowledge about how digital technology works, and its role in society is essential in order to guard to the public participation, development of innovative product and increase financial inclusion, noting that as the Bank of Sierra Leone aim to bring in new Intech products, seeks to extend media leadership in changing the culture, attitude and practices of the people.

He said one of the objectives of the national strategy of the financial inclusion is to promote and leverage innovative technologies solutions and expand access to finance.

Acting Bank Governor of Bank of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ibrahim Stevens  said the National Switch is a critical infrastructure that entails a lot on how it is to be used, stating that  they want to bring technology, enhance interoperability with the aim of improving financial inclusion in the country, noting that just last week they have received World Bank approval to invest further in the financial, noting that the second financial project is about to start and it will complement the national switch and support technical infrastructure and also small businesses.

In his presentation on the overview of the National Switch, Director of Banking Department at the Bank of Sierra Leone, Alfred Samah said the deployment of the National Switch of Sierra Leone is being executed under the Sierra Leone Financial inclusion Project which the Government of Sierra Leone, implementing through a loan from IDA/World Bank and the Project intends to increase the interoperability of digital payments and access to financial services, and it comprises three components.

He said the components including ensuring interoperability of digital payments; finances the hardware software, and consulting services required to implement a switch successfully, ensuring the viability of the payments system through increasing usage thereof by financing access points for the switch, including Point of Sale (POS) terminals, mobile wallets, and government payments with particular emphasis on rural areas and ensuring support for project implementation by financing a project coordinator and oversight mechanisms for the project to ensure private sector stakeholder involvement.

He said The National Switch is expected to play a critical role in the socio-economic development of the country through promotion of digital financial services, implementation of this Strategy is therefore essential to increase visibility, public awareness and status of the switch among members of the general public and other key stakeholders in order to maintain stakeholders’ confidence in the switch platform and financial sector and the process is further expected to drive volume, customer needs and overall national interest in the uptake of digital financial services.