MTN MoMo Month: Fintechs Are Key to Ghana’s Digital Payment Revolution

Digital payment

Accra, Ghana, August 13, 2020//-Ghana’s enthusiastic efforts to become the hub for digital financial services (DFS) have been boosted by the meteoric penetration of smartphones, robust IT infrastructure, sound policies and growing middle-class.

Similarly, several vital elements have contributed to the shift to digital payments, notably good connectivity, budding financial technology (fintech) industry, growing financial infrastructure, and a continuously improving regulatory environment.

Significantly, there is also a common recognition of the need to continue building an inclusive and responsible digital payments ecosystem on the continent.

Doing so is driving financial inclusion, particularly for women, improving transparency of payments, and opening up new markets for goods and services, which in turn support economic growth.

Indeed, the launch and growth of digital financial services has led to an unprecedented increase in the number of people enjoying access to formal financial services, according to the ‘Digital Access: The Future of Financial Inclusion in Africa’, 2018 report.

Digital payment

Today, Africa is home to more digital financial services deployments than any other region in the world, with almost half of the nearly 700 million individual users worldwide, it indicated.

“Mobile money solutions and agent banking now offer affordable, instant, and reliable transactions, savings, credit, and even insurance opportunities in rural villages and urban neighborhoods where no bank had ever established a branch”.

Growing investment in fintechs

What is happening in the Ghanaian fintech space has been bolstered by the recent worldwide move towards cashless and digital payments. The continuous investments in payments related fintechs has been double that of other technology investments across the financial services ecosystem.

2018 saw $128billion investment globally into fintech a whopping 82% increase as against 2017. Investment in the sector is expected to grow to $310 billion by 2022, a 25% annual growth rate, General Manager of MTN MobileMoney Limited, Eli Hini revealed at MTN Mobile Money Stakeholder Forum as part of activities to mark this year’s MTN Mobile Money Month.

Eli Hini, General Manager, MTN MobileMoney Limited

According to the World Bank’s 2018 Global Financial index Report, digital technology is one of the factors driving access to and use of financial services, particularly in Sub-Sahara Africa.

FinTechs are key in digital payment revolution

 Mr Hini and his co-panelists-Diana Owusu-Kyereko, CEO, Jumia Ghana ; Thomas Attah John, MD, GT Bank Ghana; Kwame Oppong, Head of Fintech and Innovation, Bank of Ghana; Derrydean Dadzie,CEO, Technology Chamber, agreed that fintechs are increasingly becoming a very critical part of the digital finance eco-system which is revolutionizing digital payments.

Tracing the evolution of fintech in Ghana, Mr Hini noted that fintechs are found in different sectors of the Ghanaian economy including health, banking, insurance and most recently in the mobile payment and e-commerce space.

The country’s fintech industry began in 1997 following the introduction of the Sika Card, a new financial product by the then Social Security Bank (SSB) Ghana now Societe Generale Ghana Limited which allows cashless transactions in the country.

Fast forward in 2001, IT Consortium launched its platform for Business-to Business Solution, while the Government of Ghana introduced the e-zwich, an interoperable payment system in 2008.

The advent of Mobile Financial Services by MTN Ghana in 2009 with nine banking partners has democratized mobile money transactions in the country.

The democratization of mobile money transactions in the Ghanaian economy has instigated a paradigm shift to a new kind of retail banking system where large segments of the unbanked populace are being absorbed into the financial services sector.

With the aim of driving and accelerating the rate of innovation in the space, there are 71 registered fintech businesses operating in Ghana today.

Impacts of FinTech on Financial Inclusion

Fintechs which are the application of technology and digitization in financial services delivery are rapidly changing the face of the financial industry across the world by the impact of Digital wallets, Mobile Money popularly known in Ghana as MoMo, blockchain and payment innovation in Africa.

While digital Payments are payments that are conducted over the internet and mobile channels. So, any payment that is sent online or through mobile computing and internet-enabled devices can be referred to as digital payment.

“Fintechs have spread rapidly over the last decade in Africa and across the world, yet, there is potential for growth. It has impacted and continues to impact every aspect of various economies especially the developing world in its financial inclusion drive”, Mr Hini said.

Fintech solutions he noted are providing powerful solutions for expanding access and usage of financial services in Ghana and beyond.

Mobile money agent assisting a woman to transfer money

They are also creating job opportunities for thousands of Ghanaian youth across the length and breadth of the West African second largest economy after Nigeria.

Customer value is one of the impacts that fintechs. It drives the value of convenience and efficiency in operations, Mr Hini explained.

Additionally, fintechs in Ghana and any part of the world drive the use of technology in solving day to day business operation challenges.

ALSO READ: https://africaneyereport.com/how-covid-19-sparks-digital-banking-rush-in-ghana/

Fintechs are also the key drivers of financial inclusion- the availability and equality of opportunities to access financial services. So they are driving the effort to make financial services inclusive to all.

Despite their challenges including small management size, data privacy, consumer protection and limited supervisory capacity and monitoring, Fintech vendors focus on personalized services that meet the clients’ needs.

Fintechs open platform and application programming interfaces (APIs) which allows applications to be built on top of preexisting products.

Besides, competition within the Fintech space globally is growing exponentially on a yearly basis – As a result, some fintech companies according to Mr Hini have dipped into new markets to escape heightened competition.

Areas of support

Creating the necessary environment for the continuous growth in the fintech industry in Ghana has been advocated for by the industry players.

Access: Mr Hini whose company put the forum together used the occasion to call for the creation of a platform to support innovation (Open API, Sandbox, among others).

Technical Capabilities: While calling for training opportunities to boost the technical capabilities of Fintech and leveraging partnerships with the developer community & training programs (partnership with University).

Partnerships: Partnership opportunities should be created to drive innovations and expand operations into new market segments – merchant & service aggregation, among others.

Innovation Programs: Mr Hini also called on the industry stakeholders to establish programs which would enhance innovation in the sector including– Hackathons, Innovation Hubs & Incubator programs.

On regulation: Kwame Oppong, Head of Fintech and Innovation at Bank of Ghana is confident that the passage of the Payment Systems and Services bill into law by Ghana’s parliament has passed would significantly trigger innovation and growth of electronic payments in the country.

According to him, the Payments Systems and Services law would consolidate laws and guidelines relating to payment systems, electronic money operations and to regulate institutions which issue electronic money and provide payment services in Ghana.

Before the passage of the law, there existed the Payment Systems Act, 2003 (Act 662), Branchless Banking Guidelines (2008) and Electronic Money Issuer (EMI) Guidelines and other laws that regulated digital financial services.

Funding: The Managing Director (MD) of GT Bank Ghana, Thomas Attah John urged fintech operators to take advantage of venture capital and Angel investments to raise funds to expand their businesses.

Managing Director (MD) of GT Bank Ghana, Thomas Attah John

Digital ID system: Derrydean Dadzie, CEO, Ghana Chamber Technology noted digital ID system is critical for driving digital payments in the country.

“Digital ID is very important to access digital services. So, ID will be very critical for accessing services in the post COVID-19 world”.

Diana Owusu-Kyereko, CEO, Jumia Ghana, a leading e-cormmerce platform in Africa, noted that the adoption of mobile payments would uptake digital payments in Ghana.

Diana Owusu-Kyereko, CEO, Jumia Ghana

Bottom line

 The shift to digital payments has been long coming however the global COVID-19 pandemic has hastened the need for businesses to make the shift. So, fintechs and banks must cooperate to achieve the digital payment agenda.

By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, African Eye Report

 

 

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