The effectiveness and resilience of Ghana’s financial services inclusion efforts, according to the first Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Maxwell Opoku-Afari, was tested by the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to him, strategies and specific COVID-19 interventions introduced by the BoG during the height of pandemic last year to complement already existing financial inclusion efforts, proved to be effective and is indicative of the resilience of the country’s financial inclusion efforts.
Making the assertion at the Mobile Technology for Development (MT4D) Conference on Tuesday, Deputy Governor Opoku-Afari noted that, the resilience of the country’s financial inclusion efforts were evidenced in the significant uptake of digital financial services as inactive customers activated their wallets while existing users increased usage of digital wallets.
The Central Bank as part of raft measures to sustain economic activity and livelihood by enabling remote payments and banking transactions during the pandemic, among other things reduced primary reserve requirement for banks from 10 percent to 8 percent to provide more liquidity to banks in order to support critical sectors of the economy.
Capital Conservation Buffer (CCB) of 3 percent for banks was also reduced to 1.5 percent.
Aside measures aimed at enhancing liquidity of banks, measures such as zero cost on mobile money (MoMo) funds transfers of up to GH¢100 and a revision of the daily mobile money transactions limits and maximum account balances to enable users carry out more remote transactions were also implemented to facilitate efficient and digital forms of payments.
Despite the success chalked with the raft measures implemented by the BoG last year particularly in the area of digital financial services, Deputy Governor Opoku-Afari asserted that the Covid-19 crisis exposed some gaps in policies and underscored the need to revise adopted strategies to improve their usefulness.
In view of that the BoG, he stated, has implemented a new set of policies to accelerate digital financial inclusion in order to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on individuals, businesses and governments.
Among the new set of policies he noted include the Tiered Licence Categories which provides for various licence categories for payment service providers, Merchant Account Categorisation, the Ghana QR Code payment solution – which is the first on the continent – and the crowdfunding policy.
Speaking further at the event, the Deputy Governor stated that the Covid-19 pandemic which has bedeviled the country’s economy, has however, also served as a potent catalyst for digitization.
“Let us continue to work together as stakeholders to advance financial inclusion by exploring innovative digital financial services solutions that keep us safe and create economic growth opportunities to improve livelihoods,” he urged concluding his speech at the conference.
With regards to financial inclusion, Ghana is committed to increasing access to formal financial services to 85 percent of adult population by 2023.
The increase in access to financial services according to the BoG is expected to create economic opportunities and contribute to poverty reduction.
The Governor, Dr Ernest Addison, has noted that strategic measures put in place to achieve the 85 percent target are; financial stability – access, quality, and usage of financial services – financial infrastructure, financial consumer protection, financial literacy and capacity.
Speaking at the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) virtual working group meeting, Dr Addison noted Ghana has come a long way in fostering its financial inclusion agenda with the implementation of several policy measures geared towards banking the ‘unbanked’ and formalising the informal financial sector.
“Starting off, the Bank facilitated the passage of the Payment Systems and Services Act, 2019 (Act 987) and set up a Payment Systems Strategy (2019-2024) to provide the enabling legal and regulatory environment for the orderly development of the payment ecosystem. These connect seamlessly with the country’s National Financial Inclusion Development Strategy (NFIDS) framework,” remarked the Governor.
“The Bank has recently issued a framework for Digital Sandboxes as test beds and platforms to minimise time to market rate of innovative solutions. The Regulatory Sandbox serves as a platform for innovative technology solutions to be tested in a live environment within defined parameters and timelines. These sandboxes provide enabling environment for the development of digital talent and knowledge for scaling up financial technology firms,” averred the Governor.
Adding that, the BoG’s policy efforts are geared towards supporting the financial services industry with the view to accelerating Ghana’s transition to a financially digitised, innovative, and inclusive economy.