Gov’t has tackled financial exclusion – Bawumia

Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has noted that one of the biggest problems impeding financial sector development in developing countries is the issue of financial exclusion.

This means that, he said, most of the population is excluded from fully participating in the financial system because they are unable to open and operate bank and financial services accounts.

This, according to him, reinforces the dominance of cash payments. 

Delivering a public lecture at the Ashesi University on Tuesday, November 2, he said “ When we assumed office in 2017, we decided to use digitization to solve this problem. The data showed that 70% of people in Ghana had no bank accounts but 80% of the adult population had mobile phones with 30 million mobile money accounts.

“It was also not possible to send money to customers of different telecom companies. So we asked the questions: why can’t we make it possible to send mobile money across different telecom companies and also why can’t the mobile money account function like a bank account ‘by making it interoperable with bank accounts?

“The answer to these questions was the implementation of the ground-breaking mobile money interoperability system.

“Thanks to the Bank of Ghana and Ghana Interbank Payments and Settlement System (GhIPSS) the mobile money payments interoperability has made it possible to transfer money seamlessly across different mobile money providers and between bank accounts and mobile wallets. It has also solved the major problem of the over 70% of people not having bank accounts.

“Today, because of mobile money interoperability (MMI), you can transfer money from a customer of one telco to a customer of a different telco and also make payments from your mobile money account into any bank account and you can receive payments from any bank account into your mobile money account.

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“You can receive interest on savings, acquisition of loan (e.g. qwick loan) on your mobile wallets. As a result of MMI over 90% of the adult population now have access to a “bank account”. 

“Ghana is the first country in Africa and one of the few in the world to achieve this type of interoperability between bank accounts and mobile wallets. I would like to note that even in the USA the Federal Reserve Bank does not have interoperability in its Real-Time Payments Network. The American Bankers Association in a letter to the Fed in September 2021, called on the Fed to strive towards interoperability with the Real-Time Payment Network.   

 “Achieving mobile money interoperability (MMI) in Ghana is, therefore, no small feat, especially at the cost, we did it. The data shows that because of MMI, Ghana is the fastest growing mobile money market in Africa. Total value of mobile money transactions in 2020 was GHC570 billion ($100 billion). Six years ago, it was GHC35 billion.

“Banks are also responding to the competition for the unbanked from the mobile money service providers. Next month, all banks in Ghana will launch a bankwide momo wallet which will be available to customers and non-customers through a mobile App. It is similar to other mobile money Apps from Vodafone, Airtel TiGo and MTN. You will be able to move money from any bank or momo account into this wallet and you can also generate your personal QR Code from this bankwide app.  I think this will bring about a healthy competition between the mobile money service providers and the banks which should result in lower charges for money transfers.”

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By Laud Nartey||Ghana