The Department of Operations draws its mandate from the Central Bank Act of 2000 and Payment Systems Act of 2014 respectively. As part of that mandate, it offers banking services to the Government and its agencies, commercial banks and international agencies. The Department has a mission to provide• efficient and timely banking services and ensures that the payment system of Lesotho is safe and sound and compares well with those in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, and internationally. The key functions of the Department can be summarised as follows:
•To promote the efficient operation of the payments systems;
• To issue, manage and redeem the currency of Lesotho; and
• To act as banker and advisor to, and as fiscal agent of, the Government of Lesotho.
The Department consists of three (3) Divisions namely; Banking Operations, Currency Operations and National Payment System.
a) Banking Operations Division
The main functions of the Banking Operations Division include the following:
- To act as a banker to the banks by accepting deposits, providing bank account services, maintaining banks' clearing and settlement accounts, and other deposit accounts;
- To operate the clearing house to provide the clearance facilities for interbank transactions;
- To participate in the Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) on behalf of the Bank and the Government; and
- To act as banker to the Government by operating accounts and tellers' facilities for Government Departments and agencies by way of acceptance of deposits and making payments on behalf of the Government.
b) Currency Operations Division
The Currency Operations Division draws its mandate from Section 6(b) of the Bank Act, “to issue, manage and redeem the currency of Lesotho”. Thus, it is tasked with currency management which involves, inter alia, handling of bulk deposits and withdrawals by commercial banks, systemic issue of new and re-issuable currency and destruction of soiled and mutilated banknotes.
The Division follows the Clean Note Policy to uphold the standard of the national currency and, in that context, its include the following:
- To issue Maloti and Rand to commercial banks to satisfy public demand for currency;
- To ensure maintenance of clean quality notes that are also durable and meet machine processing standards;
- To guard against counterfeit notes by ensuring that currency design has adequate security features;
- To manage the national currency to ensure adequate supply of currency to meet demand at all times;
- To redeem currency that is mutilated or has been taken out of circulation, and ensure that soiled and mutilated currency is destroyed;
- To maintain proper and adequate records of stock of currency and to ensure that withdrawals and deposits are accounted for and properly recorded in currency registers;
- To repatriate Rand to South Africa and collect Maloti from South Africa; and
- To ensure safe custody of currency.
c) National Payment System (NPS) Division
The National Payment System Division is operating under the ambit of Section 6(h) of the Central Bank of Lesotho Act of 2000 and the Payment System Act of 2014. Its main function is to promote an efficient operation of payment systems. NPS performs this function through operation and administration of the Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) called Lesotho Wire and through the oversight of the payment systems. The main goal of this is to ensure effectiveness in inter-bank funds transfer and reduction of payment risks, especially systemic risk.
The functions of the Division include the following:
- To put in place appropriate legal and regulatory framework that can support a modern payment and settlement system and the implementation of RTGS for large value payments;
- To guide the evolution of Lesotho’s payment system, focusing primarily on the overall soundness and effectiveness of the system.
- To ensure safety and efficiency of Lesotho’s systemically important payment and securities settlement systems.
- To facilitate financial inclusion initiatives that addresses the needs of the under-banked and the unbanked.
- To administer, operate and monitor daily operations of Lesotho Wire for high value and time critical payments;
- To facilitate and promote cross-border trade and investment by putting an enabling legal and regulatory framework that support deployment and operation of cross-border payment and securities settlement systems;
- To ensure that all systematically important payment and settlement systems comply with international standards such as the Principles for Financial Market Infrastructure (PFMIs); and
- To reduce the use of cash and paper-based instruments and promote electronic payments.