The Ministry of Finance is in the process of developing a financial inclusion strategy to ultimately increase access to financial services.
The Ministry will also work closely with the Bank of Ghana and the private sector to find a lasting solution to challenges of the retail payments system.
Hon. Mona Helen Quartey, Deputy Minister for Finance, made these known in a key note address delivered when Standard Chartered Bank presented National Payments Strategy Document to the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in Accra, yesterday.
The document provides the appropriate road map to accelerate the process of moving from a cash dominant economy to a cash-lite one.
Hon. Quartey noted that financial services provided under financial inclusion plans promoted stability in the financial sector, ensured integrity in transactions and provided adequate consumer protection.
There was, therefore, the need, she said, for an appropriate roadmap in the form of the strategy document to achieve government's objective of moving from cash dominance transactions, adding that the national financial inclusion strategy, when developed and implemented, would achieve the complementarity in addressing Ghana's low financial inclusion levels.
She said shifting payments from cash to electronic not only had the potential to improve the livelihoods of low-income people by advancing financial inclusion, but also enabled the poor grow assets and provide a more efficient, transparent and often safer means of disbursing payments.
Hon. Quartey said financial transactions were pivotal in doing business, managing a business, and taking care of one's family and that government and all stakeholders had the responsibility of making these transactions safer, cheaper, and more convenient through digital payments.
"As bulk and micro payers, we have a unique role to play in initiating a deliberate, strategic shift toward electronic payment systems. The digital platform for payment link all citizens and businesses in a country and needs to be given a development priority," she stressed.
She said government was, therefore, committed to creating the environment to allow an accelerated transition of cash transfer to the most vulnerable people in Ghana through social cash transfer and public works programme, adding that the transfer of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) assistance and the proposal to pay all government workers through an electronic payment system are steps in the right direction.
Hon. Quartey urged all stakeholders to work on technologies, processes and products to achieve the desired goal of providing access to formal financial services to the unbanked/under-banked population in a timely fashion to match the growing aspiration of the people.
She also underscored the importance of co-ordination in making progress in this process. "Payment systems are networks and for networks to work, institutions must co operate. Financial institutions have been very good at competing in developing payment products using the existing infrastructure, but they have not been so good at co operating to ensure that the infrastructure is improved over time. The industry needs to contribute to address these co-ordination issues," she added.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Standard Chartered, Bank, Ghana, Mr Jerry Kweku Bedu-Addo, said Standard Chartered Bank, Ghana, had acted as a partner to BoG to support and provide guidance in developing a National Payments Strategic blueprint.
Mr Bedu-Addo said the document was expected to contribute to transforming Ghana into a cash-lite society and to also promote financial inclusion.
He said in developing the strategy, Standard Chartered's internal payments experts teamed up with internationally-acclaimed consultant, Capgemini, BoG and the Ghana Interbank Payments Systems (GhIPSS),
He said consultations were also made with key stakeholders across key sectors of Ghana's economy including banking, telecoms and other private and public institutions.
Mr Bedu-Addo said a concerted effort was required from BoG to drive the implementation of the recommendations for a drastic reduction in the dependence on cash to the more sophisticated and easy reliance on electronic payments.
Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)