Dr. Bawumia with the Participants
Dr. Bawumia with the Participants

The Ghana Economic Outlook and Business Strategy (EOBS)Conference 2017, themed: “Unlocking Ghana’s Potential with Mobile Money and Payment System”, has ended successfully in Accra.

Dr. Bawumia with the Participants
Dr. Bawumia with the Participants
This year’s conference which was the 5th edition took place in Accra attracting banking financials Mobile telecom Operators ,Governmental officials , Central Bank , the Ministry of Finance ,Banks, Insurance companies and others and other related stakeholders, to brainstorm on how mobile money and payment systems will contribute to financial inclusion and economic growth.

In his delivery , H.E. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana noted that in 2009, Ghana officially launched the mobile money service in the country targeted at the unbanked population.

This he said, coincided with the growth in mobile phone penetration rates in the country.

At the end of December 2009, Ghana had a mobile phone subscriber population of 15,100,000 and a mobile phone penetration rate of 65.9 percent, according to the National Communications Authority (NCA).

By December 2016, the total number of mobile voice subscribers had shot up to 38,300,000, representing a total penetration rate of 136.3 percent.

This means from 2009-2016 (a seven-year period), mobile phone subscriptions and ownership has grown by more than 50 percent.

In July 2015, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) introduced new E-money Issuer (EMI) guidelines to govern the mobile money sector.

A key part of the guidelines was that banks should pay interest on the float kept by the banks on behalf of the EMIs.

“I am happy to note that banks are paying interest to subscribers on their floats held in their mobile money wallets”, he stated.

According to the Vice President, the government is keen on developing the financing sector to deepen financial inclusion and bring more Ghanaians out of extreme poverty.

This informed the decision of the president to abolish the burdensome 17.5 percent VAT on financial services as announced by the Finance Minister in his budget statement to parliament on 2nd March.
In the last five years, however, mobile money has seen an astronomical growth, drawing thousands of the unbanked households into the financial inclusion net.

According to BoG data, as at 2012, the total value of mobile money transactions totalled GHS594.12 million.

Significantly, as at December last year the value of transactions had reached GHS78.5 billion, indicating that within five years, mobile money transactions has grown by more than 13,000 percent. This is huge and promises a better future.

Regarding employment by mobile money, as at end of last year, the cumulative registered mobile money agents in the country was 136, 769. Of this number, 107, 415 are active mobile money agents.

Some banks now offer the ability to buy government Treasury Bills using mobile money, ability to contribute to insurance products and pay bills.

Dr. Bawumia added that, for citizens to register and use mobile money and digital payment systems, they need an Identification instrument.

In January this year, I inaugurated a committee to start work on the country having a National ID system.

The government of Nana Akuffo-Addo is convinced that the National ID scheme would help formalise the economy through the establishment of a national database, using the National Identification System as the primary identifier so, we call on the support of all in this regard.

The Second Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana Dr. Johnson Asiama, disclosed that as at the end -January this year( 2017), total electronic money account balances with banks was Gh 1,274 million compared with Gh 537 million in January 2016.

Similarly , we are witnessing a number of strategic alliances among banks, telcos and fintechs in the delivery of financial services.
Touching on the Guidelines for Electronic Money Issuers, he indicated that , the bank of Ghana has commenced stakeholder engagements in January 2012 with a view to soliciting views to address the identified challenges in the Branchless Banking Guidelines.

The consensus reached with stakeholders resulted in the publication of the Guidelines the for Electronic Money Issuers and Agent Guidelines in July 2015.
This he said, one of the significant changes in the new Guidelines is the removal of restrictions on non-bank entities such as telcos to issue electronic money.

Telcos intending to issue electronic money are required , under the Guidelines to establish a separate company to be licensed by the bank to lead in the provision of electronic money issuance was therefore discouraged.
The Second Deputy Governor, added that regulatory and supervisory reforms in digital payments are aimed at eliminating payroll fraud, financial inclusion , reduction in money in circulation , efficiency , safety , competition , transparency , consumer protection and also lower cost of service delivery.
The Bank has therefore had provided a regulatory framework that seeks a fair balance among the aforementioned qualities.
According to Dr. Asiama, as part of measures to encourage innovation in digital payments , the bank will be establishing a regulatory sandbox.

This he said, the purpose of the regulatory sandbox is to allow innovators to test their ideas in a live but controlled environment under the supervision of the bank.
This approach is to encourage innovation and also to proactively identify any risk that may be associated with it.

By: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/NewsGhana.com.Gh