With effect from 1 August this year, the number of days it takes for a cheque to mature and due for payment will reduce from three to one, according to the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG).
|Governor of CBG, Amadou Colley|
This development is part of efforts at modernizing and upgrading the country’s payments, clearing and settlement system infrastructure.
“The banks, including the CBG, are required to process cheques deposited/lodged or payment instructions for remittances received the same business day as long as the transaction occurred within the operation hours of the Automated Cheque Processing and Automated Clearing House (ACP/ACH), and Real-Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) systems,” stated a recent CBG news release sent to the media.
The primary objective of the systems is to achieve same day settlement of value. The initiative also provides an efficient payment system which reduces the time taken to clear inter-bank transactions and eliminates or significantly minimizes settlement risk associated with payments in the banking system.
The Automated Cheque Processing and Automated Cheque Clearing (ACP/ACH) was “successfully” launched in December last year and effectively replaces the Manuel Clearing House operated by the Central Bank of The Gambia for domestic inter-bank clearing.
The release stated further: “In compliance with international best practice and to allow reasonable time for participating banks to adjust to the requirements of the harmonized Cheque Standards and the electronic clearing system, the Central Bank of The Gambia continued to operate the Manual Clearing House for nearly eight months.”
In this vein, the CBG said that following the successful launch of the three payment systems, namely the ACP/ACH, RTGS and the imminent launching of the Security Settlement System (SSS), the Central Bank Manual Clearing House will cease to operate with effect from August 1, 2012.
The ACP/ACH only processes Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) coded cheques for clearing electronically.
“The system is available on every banking business day between the hours of 8:00 am and 1:30pm,” the release stated.
This means that all cheques that are printed without the MICR code line will not be cleared, as the Banjul Manual Clearing House will cease to operate.
The automated electronic payment and clearing system (ACP/ACH) for cheques and direct credit remittances create an efficient payment and clearing system for fund transfer.
All the banks licensed by the Central Bank of The Gambia are mandatory participants of the systems and are members of the Clearing House.
The banks were directed to issue MICR-compliant cheques to their customers prior to the launch of the systems in December 2011.
Furthermore, the release stated: “The general public is being informed that cheques bearing values above the D100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Dalasi) maximum threshold for the ACP/ACH cannot be presented for inter-bank clearing through the Automated Clearing House irrespective of whether or not such cheques are MICR compliant. This requirement has no effect on cheques presented over the counter by the drawee at the drawer bank for cash payment.”
In the same vein, payments with values exceeding D100,000 should be made through the Real-Time Gross Settlement System which is accessible by every participant bank.
To facilitate the execution of payment instructions of such large-value transactions, banks will require the account number (BBAN) details which are part of the MICR code and is made up of the Bank code, the
Branch code, the Account Number and the Account Cheque Digit, among other details.