Govt launches digital platforms for business transactions

BY: Daily Graphic
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta

The government has launched three policy initiatives designed to deepen financial inclusion and accelerate digital payments.

The policies, which are the National Financial Inclusion and Development Strategy; the Digital Financial Services Policy and Cash-Lite Roadmap, are in line with the government’s vision of building a payment system that accelerates economic development. 

The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, who performed a virtual launch of the initiatives on the ministry’s social media platform, said the policies conformed to the government’s call on financial institutions and telecommunications sectors to find innovative ways of turning mobile phones and the mobile money platforms into vehicles of economic empowerment for the many players in the large informal sector.

Mr Ofori-Atta explained that the initiatives would not only help the country to move away from cash regimes, but would also promote transparency, accountability and efficiency in financial management.

“This will help our country to advance towards achieving many of the sustainable development goals,” he said.

Initiative partners

The Finance Minister further explained that the National Financial Inclusion and Development Strategy has been developed in collaboration with the World Bank with the objective of increasing financial inclusion from the current 58 per cent to 85 per cent of Ghanaians by 2023.

That, he indicated, would help create economic opportunities and reduce poverty in the country.

The Digital Financial Services Policy, he further said, had been developed in partnership with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) initiative and built on existing technological gains to create a resilient, inclusive and innovative digital ecosystem that would contribute to social development, build a robust economy and cause the private sector to thrive.

“The Cash-Lite Roadmap had been designed in collaboration with the United Nations (UN)-based Better Than Cash Alliance, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), and meant to advance concrete steps to build an inclusive digital payments ecosystem.

“This includes better access to financial services, enabling regulation and oversight, and promoting consumer protection,” he said.

Digital business transaction

The  Managing Director of the Better Than Cash Alliance, Dr Ruth Goodwin-Groen, who was at the launch, commended Ghana for taking steps to implement digital platforms for business transactions.

 "Ghana is already recognised as a global digital payments success story. We look forward to continuing working with our member, the government, as well as with the private sector and international organisations to accelerate the new ambitious Cash-lite Roadmap in a way that is responsible and responsive to the needs of all Ghanaians,” she said. 

She said the digital platforms were particularly important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Background

In 2017, the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GHIPPS), under the Bank of Ghana, launched the Mobile Money Interoperability scheme to facilitate the simple and convenient movement of funds across mobile money platforms.

In November 2019, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Ernest Addison, announced an initiative to pilot a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) in a Sandbox environment. This was meant to foster competition, reduce the operational costs associated with cash and move the country closer to achieving its cash-lite objectives.

The central bank has also set up a Fintech and Innovation office to drive the bank’s Cash-lite, e-payments and digitisation agenda.

 Efforts at ensuring the development of the FinTech industry culminated in the establishment of the Ghana Chamber of Technology by industry players as its umbrella body.

 Among other things, the Chamber provides a forum for FinTech and Payment Service Providers to share experiences and also serve as a single point of interaction with the central bank and key stakeholders.