In the past few years, Ghana has become a fastly thriving market for mobile money. The registered accounts have reportedly increased six-fold from 3.8M in 2012 to 23.9 M in 2017 with the emergence of various mobile money service operators. MTN Ghana dominates the list. But why are Ghanaians so enamored by mobile money? Why is it a King in Ghana?
1. Greater Access to Mobile Phone
One of the most prominent factors responsible for the rise of mobile money and operators such as MTN Ghana is the growing number of mobile phone users. The number of mobile phone users is larger than the number of normal bank account users too. It makes mobile money accessible, even in rural areas. It also prevents the cost of traveling to the bank as well as reduces risks related to thievery. Furthermore, mobile money banking provides various other utilities- utilities such as paying loans, taxes, insurance, gift cards, and even e-coupons- besides just sending and receiving money.
2. New Laws and Acts
The growth of mobile money in Ghana is also partly due to the right regulatory environment and its various supportive rules and Acts. The laws and regulations back in 2008 were highly restrictive towards most of the initiatives. But later on, Bank of Ghana (BoG) agreed to take a second glimpse at the regulations and came up with e-Money Issuer Guidelines (2015), which gave more scope to mobile money.
Other key initiatives include the first interoperable system (first in the whole of Africa), which Ghana launched in May 2018. It allowed transactions between different mobile service providers across the continent as well as the globe. Adoption of mobile wallets by Ghanaians is also a credential factor in the rise of mobile money transactions.
One of the newest laws- Electronic Payment & Financial Services Law (July 2019) – allows banks to operate their own mobile money vending points directly. This law, supported by the Payments Systems & Services Act, will provide increased power to BoG to regulate the mobile money market.
3. Financial Inclusion
Mobile money, digital payment, and e-banking play pivotal roles in Ghana’s plan for the expansion of financial inclusion. Ghana doesn’t lack in the number of bank outlets. Yet, only 3/10 Ghanaians are bank account holders. Mobile money, along with numerous partnerships between banks and telecom companies, has made tremendous efforts to reach these unbanked populations. 1 out of 5 Ghanaians uses mobile money for daily transactions. This money movement affects credit availability as they end up in banks. Linking a user’s mobile number with his/her bank account encourages the unbanked populations to open their bank account, with the assurance that they can oversee their money via their phones.