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Fact-Check: Bawumia’s 15 million bank accounts claim false – Patrick Stephenson

M Bawumia Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

Wed, 19 Aug 2020 Source:

Head of Research at IMANI Ghana, Patrick Stephenson, has described as inaccurate an assertion by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia that 15 million Ghanaians have bank accounts.

He said on the 3FM’s Sunrise show Monday, August 17 that there is very little evidence to support the claim made by the second gentleman of the land.

The vice president, while addressing the youth wing of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Accra on Wednesday, August 12, explained what he meant by saying every Ghanaian has a bank account.

“With the triangular feature which mobile money payments interoperability allows; that is the transfer of funds from mobile money accounts to bank accounts and vice versa, as well as from mobile or bank accounts to bio-metric payment card accounts (ezwich), it means that anyone with a mobile account has a bank account. They can make payments out of it and receive interest on their balances.”

He further noted: “Many people did not and do not understand that we have moved away from the world of branch banking into branchless banking. You can have your bank account on your phone. You can do banking without visiting a bank branch or signing a cheque.

“Many people did not and still do not quite understand what I meant when I said every eligible Ghanaian will be able to get a bank account.

“They were thinking about traditional bank accounts. Well, I can say without any fear of contradiction that as a result of mobile money interoperability over 15 million Ghanaians today (many of whom are unbanked in the traditional sense) have a bank account.

“This is a remarkable achievement and shows the power of digitization.”

But reacting to these comments on the ‘Fact-Check’ segment on 3FM’s Sunrise, Patrick Stephenson said the claim is inaccurate.

He explained that “the subscribers to the service, what kind of service are available for them to use mobile money services for? I use mine just for top-ups because there are all these nice goodies that they give you if you buy airtime from the mobile money wallet…

“That is all that I use mine for and that is counted as a transaction, and, so the idea that somehow we lump all the transactions together and assume that somehow financial intermediations for people who ordinarily do not have access to bank accounts have gone up dramatically is very worrying because somebody is going to use a bank purely for the business of banking – deposit, withdrawals.

“But here he [Bawumia] has just limited it to ownership of bank accounts. The velocity of the transactions in the bank is a little over 68 or 98,000 he talked about.

“So there is very little evidence to support the conclusion the vice president made. Very little evidence to suggest that 15 million people mean that 15 million bank accounts, it can’t be accurate.

“It can only point to a certain direction if we understand the transactions that are undertaken.”

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