How digital payments boosted financial inclusion in Ghana
Have digital payments improved financial inclusion, especially in the emerging markets? Evidence seems to prove so.
In emerging markets, the combination of low financial literacy and poorness of access points to financial services is a problem for many vulnerable groups, especially those living in rural areas. They are still excluded.
Ghana and digital financial inclusion
Ghana is an interesting experience in financial inclusion, as told by Elsie Addo Awadzi, the Second Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, at the BIS Innovation Summit 2022.
Mobile money has helped to formalize a very informal economy. Many people that were previously excluded from any kind of financial service could thus access digital payments and transfers.
And this is opening new opportunities to men, women and young people who can use a mobile phone and access banking services, using their money in a more convenient way both within Ghana and to/from other countries.
But there are also open issues.
The risk of fraud
One is the phenomenon of fraud in mobile money transactions. Many users are neither financial literator nor digital aware and can fall prey to scammers and criminals. Frauds may spread distrust in digital financial services.
The further development of the country’s digital market requires a constant monitoring of cybersecurity threats. Fast and small value mobile money transactions are an attractive target for cybercriminals.
Another problem is the lack of transparency in pricing, especially when it comes to credit and microcredit.
Finally, the growth of mobile financial services may create a new digital divide, as citizens who have access to the internet can benefit from these services, while the lack of infrastructure or accessibility in some areas still excludes some citizens.
Who is being left behind
Policymakers and Regulators are looking at granular data to understand the issues, both on the demand and the offer side. And have found many potential divides.
One is about gender: women lag behind by 8-9% in access to finance, for example. Income is another factor to take into account: many people cannot afford a mobile phone or a mobile internet connections.
Other Ghana citizen don’t have access to electricity: they simply can’t easily recharge their phones.
These people are in a limbo. Financial inclusion is not just about literacy and training. In this case, policymakers also need to grant access to phones, electricity and internet connectivity.
These actions are key for a further future growth of fintech in Ghana, whose innovative and creative models can address real problems.