STAR-UEMOA is a regional gross settlement system in real time, intended for transactions of systemic scope (particularly large sums). Its operational start-up took place on June 25, 2004.
Objectives of the implementation of the payment system
- Ensuring speedy payments
- Reducing the administrative costs of transactions
- Promoting the development and integration of regional capital markets
- Managing risks.
Prior to the implementation of STAR-UEMOA, payment instructions between two WAEMU countries went through current accounts at the BCEAO, via the provision of funds from one National Directorate to another. Processing of the provisions made settlement possible at D+1 in the case of the immediate validation of the transfer order, or D+2 or D+5 in the event of a failing in the transmission of the order.
With the entry into production of STAR-UEMOA, a net reduction in the time required to process transactions was observed. Thus, in 2009, the average waiting period for the completion of payments was 41 seconds.
STAR-UEMOA enables banks:
- To optimize their cash-flow management by reducing the number of middlemen and through the speed of the system;
- To conduct interbank transactions in the region in real time;
- To reduce payment risks and make interbank transactions smoother;
- To reduce waiting time for intra-WAEMU transfers from 3 weeks to less than a minute;
- To settle clearing balances in a shorter time frame.
Participation in STAR-UEMOA
STAR-UEMOA is a central system to which direct participants are connected via the SWIFT network or the private network of the BCEAO.
The eligible participants in the system are: the BCEAO, banks and financial institutions, the Central Depository/Payment Bank of the Regional Stock Exchange (BRVM), the WAEMU interbank electronic banking group (GIM-UEMOA) and the West African Development Bank (WADB/BOAD).
Participation in STAR-UEMOA requires strict adherence to the operating rules of the system.
There are two modes of participation in the system:
- direct participation, in which the participant institution is linked to the system through a platform installed on its premises and handles the issuing of its orders and the monitoring of its position in the system itself;
- indirect participation, in which the participant is linked to the system via a service desk installed on the premises of the BCEAO Main Branch.
After 6 years in operation, STAR-UEMOA users have achieved ownership of the system, which is reflected in the active participation of the banks of the Union, and the increase in the number and value of transactions taking place in the system, as well as the quantitative and qualitative improvement the system’s performance indicators.
Types of transactions carried out with STAR-UEMOA
The STAR-UEMOA system chiefly deals with the transactions below:
- transfers, on behalf of the originating institution or its customers, on whose behalf the participating institution wishes to ensure settlement in real time;
- settlement of exchanges of securities kept in the Central Bank on the secondary market, either on behalf of the banks or of their customers;
- orders by STAR-UEMOA participants for institutions that are not eligible to belong to the system, which are charged to STAR-UEMOA and received by the BCEAO participant, which charges them to their current account management system;
- operations handled by the Central Bank (monetary policy, refinancing, primary public debt securities market, cash transactions through BCEAO windows) or through the Central Bank (international transfers in foreign currencies) go through the BCEAO Participant for coverage in CFA francs in STAR-UEMOA;
- cash withdrawals and deposits in Main Branch Offices;
- settlement of SICA-UEMOA clearing balances, interbank electronic banking balances and WAEMU regional stock exchange balances.
Operating rules of STAR-UEMOA
STAR-UEMOA is based on the transmission of payment orders in SWIFT format and on the following principles :
- all transactions are final;
- orders are processed by level of priority and order of arrival;
- funds in the settlement account of the originating participant are checked automatically;
- transactions are immediately charged to the settlement accounts of the participants involved.
The fact that all transactions are final means that the originator of the instruction is firmly committed to pay the agreed amount to the beneficiary of the transaction as soon as the order is sent, received and approved by STAR-UEMOA.
Risk management in STAR-UEMOA
Risk prevention in STAR-UEMOA entails the checking of the balance of the settlement account prior to the execution of the payment order, which prevents credit risk and contributes to a reduction of systemic risk.
Liquidity risk is prevented, on the one hand, by a combined mechanism of a settlement queue and priority levels and, potentially, securities-backed intra-day advances. The intra-day advances mechanism is currently under design and will help make transactions smoother.
Day of exchanges and settlement procedures
The exchange period begins at 8:00 AM and ends at 5:20 PM (GMT). Each direct or indirect participant has a single settlement account opened in the books of the BCEAO. All of its transactions that are processed by the system transit through that account.