Will Ghana's new fintech office help boost financial inclusion?

Ghana is looking to leverage financial technology ( fintech) to boost participation in the banking sector, utilising digital services that are accessible and affordable to improve customers’ experiences. High levels of mobile phone penetration have facilitated this movement; Ghana boasts West Africa’s highest unique subscriber penetration rate, at 55% in 2020, above the sub-Saharan African average of 44.8%. The authorities are building on the momentum gained from the successful rollout of mobile money services in the country, a trend that was accelerated during the pandemic.

Innovation Office

The Bank of Ghana (BoG), the central bank, is committed to creating a vibrant and inclusive digital financial services ecosystem. In May 2020 it established the Fintech and Innovation Office (FIO) to support the national cash-lite, e-payments and digitalisation agenda. The FIO is responsible for licensing and supervising emerging forms of payment providers delivered by non-bank entities such as dedicated electronic money issuers. It also develops policies to promote innovation in the banking sector and fintech interoperability. The establishment of a dedicated office for fintech innovation is expected to streamline government processes and support widespread adoption of digital solutions across the economy.


In a bid to support the development of fintech solutions, in February 2021 the BoG announced the launch of a regulatory and innovation sandbox to provide a supportive and controlled environment for financial players to test products and services under the supervision of the regulator. Direct cooperation between the regulator and service providers is expected to encourage fintech firms to formalise their businesses, reduce costs and the time needed to launch a new technology, and give the BoG insight into how to implement effective regulations that will allow the segment to thrive. In addition to fintech firms, banks, specialised deposit-taking institutions and payment service providers will be able to utilise the sandbox.

The sandbox is specifically targeting the development of new business models not currently covered by existing regulations, new and emerging digital financial service technologies, and innovative services and products that have the potential to address a persistent financial inclusion challenge. The BoG will prioritise companies offering blockchain technologies, remittance and crowdfunding services, electronic know-your-customer platforms, and services targeting women and micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises, among others.

Digital Currency

Another key development in the fintech space is the planned launch of the e-cedi, the country’s digital currency. In August 2021 the BoG announced it was partnering with German firm Giesecke+Devrient to pilot the central bank digital currency (CBDC) as part of the government’s Digital Ghana Agenda, which aims to digitalise government services. Central banks around the world have begun to look to CBDCs to leverage the increasing popularity of digital payments and cryptocurrencies. Digital currency “presents a great opportunity to build a robust, inclusive, competitive and sustainable financial sector”, Ernest Addison, governor of the BoG, said in a statement released that month. “The concept has a significant role to play in the future of financial service delivery globally. This project is a significant step towards positioning Ghana to take full advantage of this emerging concept.” The central bank is working to ensure that the e-cedi is available for offline transactions and reach Ghanaians who do not own a smartphone – a segment of society that the BoG is looking to target in order to boost financial penetration rates.

“Financial inclusion is limited by the availability of connectivity and power,” Kwame Oppong, head of fintech and innovation at the BoG, said at the Ghana Economic Forum held in October 2021. “What we hope to be able to do – and we are one of the countries pioneering this – is that the e-cedi would also be capable of being used in an offline environment, through some smart cards.”

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The Report: Ghana 2022

Banking chapter from The Report: Ghana 2022

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