Mobile money tech. can drive cashless economy

Mobile money tech. can drive cashless economy

Ghana can achieve a cashless economy, if it embraces the use of mobile money tech-nology, says Kwame Owusu-Boateng, Chief Executive Officer of Opportunity international Savings and Loans.

He said a heavily cash dependent society like Ghana put cash holders at high risk of being robbed, whilst mobile money technology relieves one from handling the money physically, and guarantees safety and security.

Mr. Owusu-Boateng was speaking at a ceremony in Accra to celebrate five years of MTN Mobile Money. It was under the theme, “Five years of MTN Mobile Money: Expanding cashless payments in Ghana through mobile wallet transactions.”

In attendance were representatives from the Central Bank, MTN, Ecobank, Ericsson, Opportunity International Savings and Loans and the media.

He noted that despite the huge number of financial institutions and microfinance institutions (MFIs), over 60 per cent of the bankable population in Ghana are still unbanked.

“This huge untapped market create opportunities for telcos who have over 99.7 per cent mobile phone penetration and over 24.4 million subscribers to drive the country to a cashless economy through the use of mobile money technology,” he said.

Mr. Owusu-Boateng said networked financial institutions and mobile money operators promise convenience, safety, security and affordability in the movement of cash across the country.

“Especially with the emergence of sophisticated crime on our highways all targeted at cash held by travelers, the use of mobile technology becomes more critical,” he said.

However, Mr. Owusu-Boateng said a lot of people with mobile phones lacked access to basic banking services, adding that “many low-income earners save and transfer money either through friends and families or through informal channels which comes with its associated high risk”.

He said in spite of the high penetration of mobile subscriptions and all that mobile money promises, only about 16.5 per cent (over 4.1 million) of mobile phone users in Ghana had mobile money accounts.

Mr. Owusu-Boateng stressed that mobile banking remained the most reasonable means to create a successful cashless economy, saying “financial institutions have a very strategic role to play in promoting mobile money wallet transactions”.

He called for the intensification of massive education for the target market, which is largely illiterate and semi-literate, stating that “financial education is a major key to expanding cashless payments in Ghana through mobile wallet transactions”.

Mr. Owusu-Boateng said mobile money has worked well in Kenya with M-Pesa where illiteracy rate among the populace was also high, “therefore, Ghana can make mobile money work if all stakeholders do our fair bit by educating clients on the importance of a cashless system”.

Additionally, investment in agent networks by telcos and financial intermediaries will greatly compliment this drive, he said, adding that “compatibility of the platforms of the players in this space has also been a critical success factor in Kenya and other East African countries and Ghana should be able to overcome this challenge as well.”

Mr. Owusu-Boateng said the emerging social and economic impact of mobile money cannot be over emphasised, noting that “businesses can operate more effectively: shop-owners do not need to carry a lot of cash, or to stand in long queues at banks to transfer money to suppliers.”

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