The impending launch of a universal QR Code will accelerate the pace of making Ghana a cash-lite society in the near future, the Vice President of the Republic, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has predicted.
The launch of the Code will come a few years after Ghana achieved an African-first by launching Mobile Money Interoperability, which makes it possible to transfer money between mobile wallets, bank accounts and Ezwich cards. This means, practically, that everyone now has access to basic banking services.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the Mobile Technology for Development (MT4D) Conference, organised by the Ghana Chamber of Telecoms and the Financial Inclusion Forum Africa, in Accra on Tuesday, 10 March 2020, Vice President Bawumia said the launch of the code, in the next two weeks, will further enhance ongoing efforts by government to ensure greater financial inclusion and make transactions easier.
Government, he said, has gone a long way in solving the problem of financial inclusion, and Ghana is the better for it.
“One of the key things that has happened in Ghana in the past three years, which has not yet happened in any other African country in this whole area of financial inclusion using mobile technology is the area of Mobile Money Interoperability. That is something we should be proud of as Ghanaians, because it hasn’t happened anywhere else in Africa.
“What we have for example in Kenya is interoperability between mobile companies. In Ghana we have not just the interoperability between the mobile companies, but we have interoperability between the mobile companies and the banks. You can move money between bank accounts and mobile wallets. It’s a real game changer, and as far as I know, this is the only country that has done it in the continent of Africa.”
The introduction of Mobile Money Interoperability, Vice President Bawumia emphasised, means that “essentially everyone with a mobile wallet, practically, has a bank account. You could receive interest on your money, get loans, you can use it as a current account, pay your taxes; those are basic things you expect to have from a bank account.
“We have about 15 million people who are holding mobile wallets. That’s huge. You are looking at over 90% of the adult population having mobile wallets, and so practically having bank accounts. A couple of years when I talked about mobile money interoperability I made the point that every Ghanaian would practically have a bank account when this process is completed. At that time many people didn’t quite understand what I meant. People are still thinking in the frame of the old ‘go to a bank and open an account format’. No, just your mobile wallet alone gives you access to banking services. That is what we have achieved today.
“And so when we talk about financial inclusion, lets acknowledge that Ghana has gone a very long way to solving this problem of financial inclusion. If we think in the way of the traditional bank accounts we won’t recognise the efforts we have made but we have done quite a lot.”
Vice President Bawumia indicated that the launch of the QR Code ties into Government’s vision of a cash-lite Ghanaian society and the determination to make life easier for the ordinary Ghanaian.
“We want to move into a cash-lite society, which means we want the merchants to be receiving payments in non-cash instruments. We want to move away from this heavy dependence on cash, but so far what we have seen with the mobile money transactions is ‘okay you send somebody mobile money, they go to the agent and cash it out, and then take it and go and spend it.’ So you’ve only just given a longer space for the cash transaction to take place.
“But what we want actually is for the mobile money on that phone to be used to pay for goods and services. Your waakye, your koko, or trotro whatever; all of these goods and services, you should use your mobile money to pay for them. That is when we will begin moving away from that dependence on cash.
“And this is why I’m excited about what we are about to launch in two weeks’ time, the Universal QR Code, this is what will get us there. The Universal QR Code will allow us to use our mobile phones, whether it’s a yam phone or a smart phone to make payments, and the seller will receive instantly what you paid.”