First Deputy Governor, Dr. Maxwell Opoku-Afari

The Bank of Ghana says the regulatory environment has been revamped for a more competitive and innovative industry that is better positioned to serve the diverse digital financial services needs of individuals, businesses and government.

This will subsequently create a competitive environment for FinTechs.

“These projects have laid a solid foundation for businesses to receive and make digital payments that are convenient and safe by engaging relevant entities licensed by Bank of Ghana”, First Deputy Governor, Dr. Maxwell Opoku-Afari said at the launch of 5th CEO Summit.

“Obviously, the more than 17 million active mobile money accounts, provides ample evidence of the increasing adoption of digital payments and provide a fertile ground for businesses to explore digital channels to interact with customers. I must emphasise that the financial sector digitization programme is part of the bigger project of the government in a bid to formalise the economy through digital technology”, he noted.

In spite of the tremendous achievements towards building a financial inclusive society through digitisation, Dr. Opoku-Afari said the COVID19 containment measures put in place at the height of the pandemic by the government highlighted the digitization gap and brought to fore the extent to which this gap can be exploited by businesses for economic efficiency and growth.

In this regard, he pointed out that the inability of businesses to incorporate and embrace digitalization in their business models will undoubtedly create a void with dire consequences for the survivability of businesses during a post-pandemic pandemic.

“Let me be clear that this transition will not be an easy one as there will be costs associated with changing business models. But this is where businesses will have to be resolute and remain steadfast in the pursuit of their ideals and take a long-term view of where they want to see their operations a decade from now. I am fully aware that some businesses are beginning to internalize this new normal and are taking adequate steps to adopt digital technology in their operations to ensure their relevance as well as grow their business traffic”, the First Deputy Governor emphasized.

More opportunities for payment service providers

To make it easier for businesses to receive and make online payments, Dr. Opoku-Afrai said some payment service providers licensed by the Central Bank have been permitted to provide merchant acquiring and payment aggregation service for businesses.

The solutions are designed and made available to businesses in a manner that does not impose high infrastructure cost and complex connectivity requirements.

In furtherance of this, he said the Bank of Ghana has issued a three-tier merchant digital account with proportionate onboarding requirements to guide financial service providers in meeting the peculiar needs of small and medium scale enterprises, adding, this policy change is expected to facilitate acceptance of digital payments by small and medium size enterprises so as to provide convenience to their customers and also expand the geographical reach of their business.

SMEs harnessed to explore global market opportunities

The Bank of Ghana is also working with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on a Business Sans Borders project to enable SMEs in Ghana leverage digital technology to improve on their businesses as well as give them access to explore global market opportunities.

He assured the Chief Executives that the Bank of Ghana will continue to monitor the evolution of new trends in the changing business environment and stands ready to continue to provide and build upon the requisite infrastructure needed for development and ensure smooth business operation.

It will also make sure the policy environment for businesses is enhanced and fine-tuned in a post-COVID19 environment.

A clear demonstration of the Bank of Ghana’s commitment to these ideals is the establishment in 2019 of a FinTech and Innovation Office, staffed with well-seasoned personnel, to oversee an orderly development of the growth of this burgeoning sector.

“I will encourage businesses to work conscientiously with banks and FinTechs in the implementation of their digitisation strategy”, the First deputy Governor opined, adding, “the Central Bank will welcome any form of engagement with industry to provide clarity on opportunities available in the banking and payments industry to assist businesses overcome the challenges of the pandemic and also reposition their operations for a post-COVID-19 environment.”