Ghana: 'Integrate Ghana Banking Code of Ethics and Business Conduct Into Digital Processes'

18 October 2021

Banking institutions must integrate the Ghana Banking Code of Ethics and Business conduct into their digital processes and procedures, the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Julian Kingsley Opuni, has said.

"Digitalisation is the order of this new age and COVID-19 has taught us some important lessons. As we ride on digitalisation to make things smoother and faster, it comes with its peculiar challenges and uncertainties. Thus, as we migrate most of our systems, processes and services to digital platforms, it is critical to integrate our code of ethics into these digitalised processes and procedures in the form of controls," he said in an interview with the Ghanaian Times.

The interview was to discuss the Ghana Banking Code of Ethics and Business Conduct, its impact, and enforcement.

Mr Opuni said the ethical controls must be monitored and adopted at all levels of the organisation to ensure compliance.

He suggested that digital systems and processes of banks must be configured such that relevant information was easily accessible to the appropriate stakeholders, and deviations or breaches from standard practice or protocols were easily detected or flagged for further investigation.

"Since this is still a very fluid area, it will require innovative thinking to build robust monitoring mechanisms, but I believe with the right systems, design-thinking approach centred on ethical standards, we can develop robust protocols to forestall/block ethical breaches," Mr Opuni, said.

He said one key control that must be encouraged and given more focus was whistle blowing, arguing "This must be implemented at the national level and not only within banking institutions."

Additionally, the Fidelity Bank Managing Director emphasised that whistleblowers must be incentivised with corresponding rewards and accorded maximum protection.

"As we look to apply sanctions for non-compliance, we must also reward the whistleblowers to encourage more people to stand up and report ethical misconduct in the industry and society in general," he said.

Mr Opuni entreated banks to explore the digital currency space since it offered potential advantages and served as alternative to traditional currency options.

He said if successful the e-Cedi would further drive flexibility in payments and boost the financial inclusion agenda by making it easy for people to pay for products and services even without a bank account, contract, or smartphone.

"The imminent explosion of digital currency initiatives in Ghana further underscores the need for Bank of Ghana (BoG) and other key stakeholders to be proactive in ensuring that the digital currency space is carefully regulated. As people gradually begin to adopt digital currencies, one of the critical issues that need to be addressed is access to data," Mr Opuni, said.

He said the regulator should determine how much disclosure was appropriate vis-à-vis data protection considerations such as the General Data Protection Regulation.

"As we work at digitalising our business operations, processes and products, we must lock in all these regulations to secure the integrity of customer data and avoid breaches. Setting control measures that guarantee that hackers and fraudsters are unable to circumnavigate our systems and exploit data for their nefarious activities must be a major consideration," the Fidelity Managing Director suggested.

He indicated that it was encouraging that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the BoG were working in tandem to streamline and regulate digital currencies in Ghana, saying "I believe it would be apt for our financial intelligence unit and law enforcement agencies to also lend their expertise to this cause and aid the SEC and BoG to implement a tight regime for the roll out of locally relevant digital currencies."

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