Ghana’s Economy Still Dependent on Cash, but Electronic Transactions are on the Rise

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Though there has been massive improvements recorded in digital payments among individuals, businesses and the government in Ghana, cash still remains the predominant mode of payment in terms of value and volume in the country, a report by Better Than Cash Alliance, a United Nations-based agency, has shown.

The report, launched last Wednesday in Accra, noted that 37percent of the GH¢571billion of payments made in 2016 were done digitally, however, the 98.72percent of the 6.8billion payments by volume are still being made in cash.

“The strong preference for cash in Ghana is a result of the high costs of digital payments that are often passed on to users, i.e., charging customers a fee to use credit cards, and a lack of trust in, or familiarity with, digital payments,” it said.

This report, under the theme: ‘Building an Inclusive Digital Payments Ecosystem: The Way Forward’, assesses Ghana’s progress to date, and sets out specific policy recommendations that can accelerate Ghana’s journey toward a more digital economy.

It draws on a fast-growing body of knowledge about success factors in similar markets. It also examines three areas of specific focus – government fees and fines, public utility payments, and the fast-moving consumer goods sector – where digitization can have particularly powerful impacts.

Government leadership

The report noted that the government is leading efforts to digitize payments. “In setting policy direction through ministerial statements and in digitizing its own payments, including conditional cash transfer programs such as Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the 86percent of the value of government payments which is now digital shows the government’s leadership,” it added.

The report alluded the progress made in digitising payment to good internet connectivity, levels of financial inclusion in Ghana above the regional average, expansive mobile money agent networks, solid payments infrastructure, and continuously improving regulation spearheaded by the Bank of Ghana.

Benefits

This move, it noted, is already translating into direct benefits to people, particularly women, support for small businesses and cost savings for the government. The data predicts that if the government continues to make progress, savings could reach over GH¢250 million each year, which may result in more than GH¢1 billion by 2020.

 

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