Shopping and paying online will be real in Ghana when the National Switch becomes operational. The national electronic switch is near completion as some test runs are currently being carried out. When it becomes operational, one of the exciting features will be the e-commerce gateway. Fred France, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), who disclosed this, said a number of businesses are positioning themselves to take advantage of this opportunity. There is already some level of e-commerce or internet shopping going on in Ghana but without a payment system, people are only able to view products and place orders. Payment for such goods and services are however done physically and not online. However, with the national switch in place, people living in Ghana could enjoy the full complements of online shopping, he added. Mr. France said that the e-commerce gateway that would be part of the National Switch would be linked to all the banks. This, he explained, would enable settlement of transactions among the banks to take place. He was hopeful that while GhIPSS would provide the infrastructure, various service providers would launch onto it and create the platform for people to shop and pay online. He emphasized that the system was robust and secure, adding that Ghana was fast launching itself into the league of countries with modern payment systems. Airline and hotel reservations are the most common forms of e-commerce. However, a number of shopping outlets, restaurants, and other service providers also provide the opportunity for customers to make enquiries and place orders online. Mr. France noted that these activities would expand several folds when payment becomes possible online. He anticipated a whole chain of businesses would emerge and develop as people shopped and paid for services online. He said the traffic situation in the big cities was getting worse partly because people moved for everything they required, adding that when people shopped from the comfort of the computers and even mobile phones, there would be a reduction in the number of vehicles on the roads. Mr. France was hopeful that the National Switch would become operational next month and the banks would be expected to connect to the system to ensure that their customers enjoy enhanced service.