The banking industry is excited about the concept of the e-Cedi or digital cash as 70% of bank executives interviewed are convinced that the use of this form of currency will be prominent within three to five years, the PwC Ghana Banking Survey 2021 has revealed.

Such bank executives of 20 out of 23 banks, however, stressed that user experience will be at the core of product acceptance among the public, and drive demand, use, and penetration.

The survey revealed that the meteoric rise and penetration of mobile money should have lessons for the Central Bank in its e-Cedi project journey.

When asked about expected impact, 95% banking executives agree that the digital currency would impact the banking sector and wider economy positively through a deepening of financial inclusion, providing additional thrust for the country’s digitisation agenda, and improving execution of monetary policy via enhanced control over money supply.

The report also said 75% of senior bank executives interviewed also expressed enthusiasm at the prospects of process optimisation and bigger e-ticket transactions, which can lead to enhanced credit delivery and financial intermediation.

Expectation

On expectation, a good number of bank executives noted that they expect the introduction of the e-Cedi to facilitate low transaction costs, improved security of payments, and higher monetary transaction limits.

Again, 85% of executives participating in the survey emphasised that the Bank of Ghana must ensure that the principles of confidentiality, data privacy and security are incorporated in the design of the e-Cedi to help build trust and thereby encourage uptake of the digital currency, when it is launched.

Also, 60% of bank executives are of the view that the role that the Central Bank plays in the e-Cedi project will determine – in a significant way – the success or otherwise of the e-Cedi.

The industry therefore looks forward to additional consultation and dialogue with the Bank of Ghana, as they believe that such further consultation will enable greater understanding of the e-Cedi and assist their preparedness towards its successful implementation.

Indeed, 95% of survey respondents expect the Central Bank to involve the industry in the development of legislation and regulations governing the e-Cedi, while 80% expect Bank of Ghana to consult the industry in determining the in determining the pricing structure for e-Cedi based products.

Apprehension

Notwithstanding the general sense of excitement, from survey responses, the report said the industry also has some apprehension about the e-Cedi project.

Importantly, 85% of bank executives would like to engage further with Bank of Ghana in order to better understand the proposed digital currency and its associated infrastructural requirements.

They noted that there is currently insufficient clarity around legislation/ regulations, technical and funding support that would be availed, and the role expected of banks in the currency’s deployment. This makes them uneasy about any potential demands that the central bank will place on them when it launches the e-Cedi.

Preparation/ preparedness

The survey findings did not paint a picture of an industry that is yet confident and prepared for the deployment of the e-Cedi.

80% of bank executives participating in the survey admitted that they are unsure if their current technology infrastructure would support deployment of the e-Cedi.

78% of bank executives said  the industry in general, is still fairly upbeat about being fully prepared within a period of two years once the design form of the digital currency and related infrastructural requirements are unveiled to them.

In conclusion, , PwC said it is important that the pilot phase of the e-Cedi happens quickly, frequently, and on an even playing field to ensure the success of the e-Cedi project.



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