The electronic cedi (eCedi) currently being piloted by the Bank of Ghana will boost business operations and economic activities in the country, speakers at an MTN Mobile-Money stakeholder forum have said.
They stated that the introduction of the eCedi would bring opportunities to financial service providers to deliver better products and services, enhance digital payment and reduce the risks associated with cash transactions and the general exposure to cash.
The eCedi is expected to complement and serve as a digital alternative to physical cash and drive the cash lite agenda.
The digital currency is also expected to boost digital financial services and inclusion among all demographic groups.
The eCedi seeks to guarantee secure, consecutive offline payments in case no network connection is available.
The speakers — the Assistant Director, Financial Technology (FinTech) Promotion and Innovation at the BoG, Clarence Blay; the Chief Executive Officer of Mobile
Money Limited for MTN Ghana, Eli Hini; the Chief Executive Officer of IT Consortium, Romeo Bugyei, and Head of Digital and Exclusive Banking at Cal Bank, Martha Acquaye — all said the eCedi will offer opportunities for inclusion and facilitate easy and improved access to liquidity.
They were examining the benefits of the eCedi, also known as Central Bank digital currency, at the stakeholder meeting organised by MTN on the theme: 'The impact of Central Bank Digital Currency on Future Digital payments (CBDC).
Mr Blay said digitisation was critical in engendering financial inclusion across the length and breadth of the country, adding that the BoG had over the years created an enabling environment in the country for that through a number of legislations.
He added that over the years it became more important for the Central Bank to move from just creating an enabling environment to the digitisation space.
"More opportunities will be given to financial service providers that want to deliver better financial services, and this is one of the wonderful takeaways of the eCedi project.
This is something that is worth supporting. I will use this opportunity to encourage everyone of us to give some advice and support to these projects," he said.
He added that eCedi would make an impact in the country's payment ecosystem and the financial service industry, especially in the area of financial inclusion.
Mr Blay stated that through the eCedi, quite a number of people would have access to a formal means of payment, with their digital footprint helping to provide more value added service.
"With what we are experiencing in the country in terms of digitisation, it tells us that many people are familiar with the digital mode of payment which gives us the opportunity to venture into eCedi which is a digital form of our Ghanaian currency," he said.
He further noted that the country had all it took to push the eCedi agenda as it was also a way to meet the government's digitisation agenda.
Ms Acquaye, for her part, said it was the responsibility of banks to ensure that people could access the eCedi.
She stated that the bank was playing a vital role to move further to make other avenues for people to generate the eCedi.
"Our role in this digital currency innovation is to make sure that all our channels are making eCedi available through traditional channels such as the branches, apps, ATMs and other platforms.
The Chief Executive Officer of Mobile Money Limited for MTN Ghana, Eli Hini, said the CBDCs were driven by a number of interests.
One of those interests, he said, was the opportunity to go offline unlike the mobile money solutions which always needed connectivity.
"So where we have network issues, people can still do vast amount of transaction using the offline mode. We are talking about the opportunity to assess the digital services and the opportunity for customers to use the format to interoperate with the mobile money wallet as well," he said
He explained that the benefits of the eCedi was to ensure that subscribers did not carry so much money on themselves and spread funds on the wrong purposes.
The Chief Executive Officer of IT consortium, Romeo Bugyei, also explained that the eCedi, unlike mobile money, contained currency contingency.
"So you have the physical cedi sitting in the vault of a bank that has one to one with that data that's represented. I just told you, we are not going to use the fiscal money sitting in the holes but we are using the data that is emitted by us and that represent what we are doing,” he said.