Banking began in Ghana about a century ago, when the Bank of British West Africa (BBWA) was established in the Gold Coast in 1896. Banks then were meant to serve the colonial government, wealthy merchants and high net worth individuals. The banking sector even till today has continued in the colonial legacy.
Only about 35 per cent of Ghanaians have bank accounts. This means majority of the population is unbanked, and use cash for transactions, excluding them from the formal financial system.
In 2009, mobile money was officially launched in the country targeted at the unbanked population and it has seen an exponential growth, drawing thousands of the unbanked households into the financial inclusion net. As at 2012, the total value of mobile money transactions totalled GHS594.12 million.
However in the first six months of this year alone, total transactional value was an astronomical GHS30.6 billion.
Other payment systems have been developed like the ‘e-zwich’, through which many social intervention programme payments are channelled.
ISSUES AT STAKE
Traditional banking has been the preserve of universal banks in the country for over a century. There are currently over 32 universal banks operating in Ghana. The total number of bank branches, in over a century of banking, is less than 2,000 for a population of about 27.8 million. Some banks are actually
cutting down on their bank branches and rather focusing on corporate banking (banking targeted at big companies), high net worth individuals, and investment in government securities like treasury bills.
However seven years after the advent of mobile money, many of the excluded poor have been able to join the formal financial system.
Many banks see the telcos and the mobile money service as encroaching on their traditional territory. This has raised the following relevant questions:
Is mobile money, a sector which was previously overlooked, now a threat to universal banks?
Is mobile money complementary or competitive?
Which specific products can banks develop to serve these mobile money customers, to bring them out of poverty?
Should traditional banking re-balance its focus?
Is mobile money helping telcos to clawback dwindling average revenues per user?
Can insurance companies use mobile money to increase insurance penetration?
How can innovative payment platforms contribute to the financial system?
What role should the BoG, the regulator play to ensure financial inclusion leads to economic growth?
The topics of mobile money and payment systems and its strong linkage to economic growth has informed African Business Media (ABM) to decide on the theme of EOBS 2017 as “Unlocking Ghana’s Economic Potential with Mobile Money & Payment Systems”.
EOBS 2017 will be a full day event. Leading government officials, banking executives, heads of mobile telecommunication companies, policy- and decision- makers, industrial experts, civil society organisations, foreign businesses and investors, and the diplomatic community, among others, will attend the conference to address issues emanating from the main theme. The event involves keynote addresses, individual presentations, panel discussions and networking opportunities.
EOBS 2017 will seek to:
Create a conducive platform where key government officials, bankers, telcos and policy makers will address Ghana’s mobile money, financial inclusion and economic growth topics
Discuss in a frank manner the role of stakeholders in solving the challenges faced between the regulator and aggregators
Identify and agree on ways and means of deepening Ghana’s financial inclusion agenda
Create a forum where the experiences of Kenya and Nigeria will be shared
Produce a communique on how the issues raised by financial inclusion and other agreed points can be followed up and implemented.
Government, Bank of Ghana, Universal Banks, Mobile telecommunication companies, Local Information Communication Technology (ICT) companies, the General Business Community, Development Partners, Commercial Departments of Embassies and High Commissions, Non-banking Financial Institutions, CSOs, the Media, etc.
ABM’s partners include the Office of the President of the Republic of Ghana, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Communications, Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement System (GhIPSS), Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Ghana Association of Bankers, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), The Ghana Police Service, Association of Ghanaian Industries, Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Embassy of China, the European Union Delegation to Ghana, Dubai Chamber of Commerce, German-Ghana Chamber of Commerce, American Chamber of Commerce, and the UK Ghana Chamber of Commerce.