Ghana: Introduction of Universal Qr Code , Pushing Towards Cashless State

By Abigail Annoh

The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has posited that the introduction of a Universal QR code payment system would be the game changer in making Ghana a truly cashless nation.

A QR is a short code for quick response.

Affirming that the system would be launched in "two weeks time," the Vice President sought the co-operation of all stakeholders and citizens at large in leveraging on the technology to ensure financial inclusion.

"Government wants to ensure that every Ghanaian no matter where they are benefits from the technology sector and at the same time guarantees our economic security and this is the vehicle that will take us there."

Dr Bawumia was speaking at the opening of a two-day "Mobile Technology for Development" conference which provided a common platform for industry players and regulators to take stock of innovations in various payment systems in the country for enhanced efforts towards financial inclusion.

Held on the theme; "Leveraging mobile technology to drive financial inclusion", the event had in attendance Ministers of State, international financial experts, Chief Executive Officers of mobile communication networks and heads of some leading banks in the country.

The Vice President who recounted the evolution towards a cashlite society with the many reforms undertaken over the years to promote financial inclusion, was confident the QR code system would consolidate all efforts made in that direction.

He explained that a unique feature to the system would be its interoperability nature such that no matter which telecommunication network was on, it would be easy to make payment with the QR code.

"What we have realised is that with the mobile money platforms, the merchant will have to give out cash to you but what we want to ensure is a total move away from heavy dependence on cash so once you have a mobile phone whether yam or a smartphone, you should be able to pay for services like buying your "waakye" or "koko", "trotro" fare etc by just scanning the code."

Ghana, Dr Bawumia added would be the first in the African region to have the QR payment system when it is launched and would join the League of Nations like the UK, Singapore and China who operate the system to enhance e-commerce.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Dr Kenneth Ashigbey in an opening remark hoped government would continue to support the industry and continue to "free mobile money from direct taxes apart from the corporate taxes on the profits that electronic money issuers (EMIs) pay, to empower a lot more production so that we would rather tax the output of other vertical businesses that would ride on mobile technology for development."

Dr Ashigbey in expressing the commitment of the Chamber to leverage on mobile technology to improve the quality of life of Ghanaians urged that government crafts a clear cut 'vision to fashion the interoperability that we have been operating for over a year now so it can be a full merchant services strategy for the country."

He called for strengthened partnerships and collaborations in advancing the country's financial inclusion agenda to rope in the about seven million unbanked population.

On her part, Madam Eli Ohene Adu, chairperson for the Advisory Committee for Financial Inclusion Africa, a non-profit organisation commended Ghana for putting measures in place to include everyone in the fiscal space and urged all to embrace government's digitisation agenda to make it work.