Mobile money platforms in Ghana to be integrated to boost sector

Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, Ghana Telecoms Chamber CEO
Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, Ghana Telecoms Chamber CEO

Mobile Money in Ghana would receive a major boost in the near future from integration and interoperability of the various mobile money platforms, allowing mobile money transactions between different networks just like phone calls.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Mr Kwaku Sakyi-Addo hinted during a dialogue on mobile financial services by the World Bank office in Accra, that in the wake of the issuance of guidelines for mobile financial services, and in light of the promise shown by the sector, the industry would consider making this feature available in the future.

“In the last few years, in the absence of clear guidelines from the central bank and considering that mobile financial services were just taking off, the mobile operators were essentially focusing on growing their customer base but now that there is a bit more clarity with the e-money issuer and agent guidelines, I think that we are going to see in the coming months and years, this bottleneck addressed”, the CEO said.

There are currently four players in Ghana’s mobile financial services sector, and due to the lack of interoperability and other challenges, the use of mobile money in Ghana is lagging behind countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.

Kwame Ansa Akufo, Senior Manager of Advisory Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Ghana said that allowing inter-network transactions without having to cash out first, and other enhancements such as allowing mobile money users to earn interest on their money, would contribute significantly to accelerating its adoption and use.

However Peter Zetterli, a Financial Sector Specialist at the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) who is the country lead for Ghana on financial inclusion, believes that forcing interoperability too early could stifle the sector because telecom companies will have no incentive to make the investments necessary to lay the foundation, and the mobile financial services sector would be better served allowing telecom companies the freedom to invest and reap the benefits as they do.

According to a research by CGAP, almost half of Ghanaian adults (48 per cent) have registered a bank account, non-bank financial account or a mobile money account but traditional banking appears to be more preferred. The research found, Ghana has the highest percentage of adults registered with bank accounts compared to Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.

Ghana however has the lowest percentage of registered mobile money users in comparison with the four countries where mobile money is used for a wider range of business transactions.

According to CGAP’s research, financial inclusion in rural Ghana has increased from 44 per cent in 2010, to 72 per cent in 2015, and while the number of mobile money transactions has grown tremendously, service providers report slow adoption of mobile money usage and a high number of inactive customers.

Peter Zetterli says the prerequisites for the growth of mobile money in Ghana such as the ownership of mobile phones, registered mobile money accounts and a good regulatory framework are already in place. Going forward, he said service providers must continue to improve their services and regulators must keep abreast with developments in the sector for effective regulation. The Government of Ghana, he added, must also formulate a vision for mobile financial services.

By Emmanuel Odonkor

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