GHANA: Digital registry of mobile money agents good move

Regulation in any economy is one of the important first steps necessary to strengthen competition, especially where complex products are concerned.

It also protects consumers, even when this means less super-normal profits for businesses with market power.

In the last couple of years, Ghana has experienced some serious setbacks within its financial services space because of the lack of enforcement of regulatory measures to ensure sanity and whip players in that sector in line to meet expected regulatory standards.

In the end, customers and the government have been made to suffer the full consequences of the actions and inaction of the regulator.

Currently, one sector which has become extremely vibrant and is growing stronger by the is mobile money operation.

This has come about because many Ghanaians are embracing the cashless system of payment.

However, with it have come some teething challenges, including fraud perpetrated, in many instances, by mobile money agents.

Many have fallen victim to all kinds of machinations to defraud unsuspecting customers.

Much as there has been talk around it for pragmatic measures to be put in place to halt the canker, not much has been done.

In the midst of the calls, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) is creating a digital registry of all mobile money agents in the country in a bid to monitor their operations to ensure that they comply with regulatory requirements.

The measure, hopefully, will further enhance identification and provide oversight supervision of agents’ businesses.

The First Deputy Governor of the BoG, Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari, has given an assurance that the registry focusses on mapping and capturing data on all agent access points for convenient and efficient service delivery.

We find the move very apt, in view of the fact that Ghana is transitioning into a new kind of retail banking system where large segments of the population, previously unbanked, are being absorbed into the financial services sector through mobile money.

We are not completely oblivious of the fact that the use of mobile money has grown exponentially over the past 10 years, making the country one of the fastest in mobile money innovation.

The paper is also aware that mobile financial services are mostly used by the poorly served traditional financial sector.

The world over, particularly in economies where mobile money has been made a daily norm, industry regulatory authorities have taken steps to firmly tighten the loose ends to make their countries’ digital financial transactions the safest.

In Ghana, one measure being rigorously undertaken is the implementation of a natio

nal identification system that meets the ‘know your customer’ and customer due diligence requirements of the banking sector and which will help in our quest to ensure that the criminals activities that surround the use of mobile money are curtailed.

For these and many other such initiatives, we wish to commend the BoG for its efforts and hope that not only will the regulations be laid out but also measures will be taken to enforce them to serve as a deterrent to those who would want to take undue advantage of their customers.

We have reached a stage in our development where we do not have to discourage people from using the banking system and, therefore, we hope to support any such initiative in the broader interest of all and sundry.