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Business News Mon, 3 Aug 2015

Telcos asked to invest more tech systems

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Mr Kweku Sakyi-Addo, has stressed the need for mobile operators in the country to continue to invest in the systems, technology and partnerships that would enable more businesses to use mobile money.

Referring to the new guidelines on mobile money, as announced by the Bank of Ghana (BoG), he said the new regulations would bring the “industry to scale.”

In an online interview, he said the central bank was playing a critical role as a regulator in facilitating and supporting industry collaboration, both among members (Telcos), as well as the banks, and other external parties to enable the creation of what he described as a “truly ubiquitous financial ecosystem.”

“The ability to transfer funds across mobile networks (Interoperability) and increase transfers within mobile networks (Domestic peer-2-peer) remains the largest contributor and integral foundation of any mobile money scheme”, he said.

Mr Sakyi-Addo was highly optimistic that “with a focused ecosystem and supportive stakeholder collaboration, lessons from the Mpesa model in Kenya will be told from Ghana in a few years.”

New BoG guidelines

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A couple of weeks ago, the central bank set up mobile financial services for a boom following its approval and announcement of two new regulatory guidelines.

It released the “E-money Issuers Guidelines” and “Agent Guidelines” to create an enabling regulatory environment for convenient, efficient and safe non-cash retail payments and transfer of funds.

The BoG published the guidelines on its website on July 6, 2015.

They will replace the earlier guidelines for Branchless Banking. The new guidelines were developed with key stakeholders including the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (mobile operators), the banks, payment service providers and other prospective electronic money issuers.

The number of mobile money transactions has grown from 30 million from 2012 to 106 million by December 2014.

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The value of these transactions were GH¢171 million in 2012, GH¢2.4 billion in 2013 and GH¢11.6 billion in 2014, according to the BoG.

With the new guidelines, both the number and value of transactions are definitely set to multiply, analysts believe.

The new guidelines will facilitate the expansion of financial services to include millions of Ghanaians who, hitherto, didn’t have a bank account. It will also help to capture financial transactions within the informal sector.

Currently, only MTN, tiGO and Airtel offer mobile money services and industry insiders expect other mobile operators to join the fray.

NCR optimistic

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In a related development, the Network of Communications Reporters, a grouping of journalists with interest in reporting issues on telecoms, has described the move by the BoG as a welcome development.

“This demonstrates that the central bank is forward looking and understands the impact mobile money will have on the economy in general,” a release issued in Accra at the weekend said.

According to the network, the new guidelines will promote financial inclusion without posing any risk to the financial system while extending financial services beyond traditional channels in the country.

The release said the new guidelines also had the potency to enhance the government’s agenda to reduce the informal sector as Mobile Money expands the BoG’s and MoF’s visibility of financial transactions within the economy.

The release welcomed the call by the telecoms chamber on its members to continue investing in its systems and technology to be able to take mobile money to the next level and also be abreast of the emerging trends in the dynamic telecoms sector.

Meanwhile, the NCR has warned the telcos and the BoG to ensure that the hackers and ICT fraudsters would not take advantage of the system to wreak havoc on unsuspecting people, adding that “this will, therefore, require the most sophisticated systems that will be difficult to break into.”

Source: Graphic.com.gh