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Mobile money operators call for tax reliefs

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi


THE General Manager of MTN Business, Mr Eric Nsarkoh, has called for support in the area of tax reliefs for companies which provide cashless transactions in the country.


The move, he said, would stimulate active participation and innovation in the sector,a situation which would ultimately result in a cashless economy.


He said it behoves government, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and other stakeholders to create the enabling environment for a more structured approach to cashless transaction in the country.


Speaking at a stakeholder conference in Accra, under the theme: “Expanding Cashless Payments through Mobile Money Transactions”, as part of activities to mark MTN Mobile Money month, he said benefits of promoting cashless payments were numerous. He said it reduced the risk associated with moving currency notes for banks and individuals, increased service options for customers, including efficiency created when goods and services might be purchased and bills paid in 24 hours.


“It is not a respecter of physical premises and working hours. It also reduces the cost to our public purse of printing currency, and the net effect is that they create a lot of business and economic growth through e-commerce, through enhanced individual businesses and national productivity with a positive impact on job creation,” he said.


He added that looking at the low numbers of the banked population in Ghana, with only 4.5 million bank accounts, mobile money provides a huge opportunity to complement the restricted number of bank branches in the country, relying on the whole agent network to penetrate the remotest parts of the rural areas.




MTN Mobile Money


MTN introduced the mobile cash management service onto the Ghanaian market five years ago, targeted at the unbanked to give them the opportunity of transferring money to friends and loved ones using  mobile phones.


Cashless payments represent payment done for goods and services through electronic money, credit cards, debit cards, direct transfers from one’s accounts, smart cards, mobile payments and other methods, including cash. 


With an initial subscriber base of about 5,000 and transaction volumes of approximately 89,000 transactions a day, MTN now has a mobile money subscriber base of over 18 million, with transaction volumes of over 50 million a month.  Also, currently over 10,000 mobile money agents nationwide as compared to 892 bank branches and 1,296 ATMs nationwide.






According to Mr Nsarko, there had been less investment in infrastructure which was currently largely being provided by the telecom companies. 


He said first time users also exhibited a lot of fear of possible loss of funds, and that cultural factors were also a challenge as Ghanaians still preferred to transact in hard currency than electronic means.


“The service providers have made a lot of investments in enhancing the security of the electronic wallet platforms. We know it will take a while to completely turn this mindset around but we need to step up our efforts,” he said. 


The Deputy Chief, National Payment System Policy and Oversight at the BoG, Mr Clarence Blay, said the government was set to adopt measures to move transactions from the manual payment system to the electronic platform, and assured the public that it would ensure security of the government’s transactions and eliminate waste and leakages in transactions and payments across the country.


“Governments and central banks across the globe are interested in electronic payment systems and their development because of its necessity for effective payment implementation of fiscal and monetary policy and promotion of financial stability,” he said.GB