BoG to sanitize system with mobile money agent registry

…as country witnesses shift to new kind of retail banking system

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) is developing a mobile money agent registry to help sanitize the banking system, the Chief Manager at the Payment System Department of BoG, Stephen Sasu Yeboah has revealed.

This will establish a database of all mobile money agents in the banking systems.

As part of the broader strategy to create an enabling regulatory environment for convenient, efficient and safe retail payment and funds transfer mechanisms, BoG issued the Branchless Banking Guidelines in 2008 and the Guidelines for E-Money Issuers (EMIs) and the Agent Guidelines in June 2015.

These guidelines were to promote financial inclusion initiatives by extending financial services beyond the traditional branch-based channels and to limit e-money issuance to licensed Dedicated Electronic Money Issuer institutions.

Speaking at the launch of the 2017 Global Findex, Yeboah mentioned that, the process for the registry is far advanced, to ensure that BoG locates where these agents are.

In mapping up the agents, he said, the central bank will use the digital addressing system.

“If the agent is not performing, we can blacklist that agent, so that another telco would not engage that agent,” Yeboah explained

This would ensure that each agent is given a unique identification number.

As at the fourth quarter of 2017; 200,000 mobile money agents were registered, out of which about 150,000 remained active.

This indicates a 25 times increase in five years, since 2012; where both registered and active mobile money agents was less than 50,000.

With the coming into being of the registry, all stakeholders would be enabled to know how to use the registry in developing or carving out policies.

Yeboah noted that, the payment systems and service bill is currently before cabinet.

“In this bill are opportunities for the Fintechs to apply to BoG for a licence and operate switching, routing, and providing payment, electronic platform, among others; once they meet the entire requirement, they can get the licence,”Yeboah said.

However, in the present situation, Fintechs would need to partner with the banks to deliver their financial services.

The Agent Guidelines formed a core part of the Bank’s strategy to create a supportive regulatory environment for adoption and use of a convenient, efficient and safe electronic retail payments and funds transfer.

These guidelines were also issued to promote the use of agents as channels for delivery of financial services with specific necessary safeguards and controls to mitigate the associated risks and safeguard consumer protection.

Following publication of the agent guidelines, there has been increased activity in electronic payments, especially mobile money, with tremendous positive impact on financial inclusion.

The country is witnessing a shift to a new kind of retail banking system; where a large segment of the population, previously unbanked, are being absorbed into the financial services sector via mobile money.

The number of mobile money transactions alone has grown by about 177 percent between 2013 and March 2018, reaching total transactions of 312.93 million and valued at GHS 52.35 billion in March 2018.

This compares with 48.24 million transactions valued at GHS 5.91 billion in March 2015. Currently, there are 25.3 million mobile money accounts compared with 8.20 million in the same comparative periods.

By Joshua W. Amlanu