SPECIAL REPORT BY YINKA OPANEYE
A People Consultant supporting technology startups in developing their teams and organisational growth. He also conducts research into Digital Finance. He is currently reviewing financial sectors of the EU-28 countries.
The emergence of fintech in Ghana has sparked o a tremendous increase in domestic and cross-border payments. The mobile money industry within Ghana has witnessed the stiff competition between Telcos with MTN Ghana as the leader in terms of active subscribers (5.6 m) and transaction volume (485 million). It is closely followed by Tigo (Tigo Cash) and Airtel (Airtel Money) whose platforms became one as a result of a merger announced in October 2017.
Despite mobile money being the headliner in the FinTech industry in Ghana, there are other well-known companies which include Hubtel and Dream Oval that are influencing the e-payment industry. Their platforms o er services that are similar to that of a mobile money wallet except they have APIs that can be integrated into websites that enable payments to include VISA and MasterCard. One of the most famous of these service providers is Zeepay which facilitates mobile money payments, domestic transfers and international remittances. The company has also put financial inclusion – o en one of the forgotten original goals of fintech – at its core.
Unlike mobile money, the use of cryptocurrency has not gained much traction in the country. The adoption rates are low due to the same fears of uncertainty witnessed in the West. Regardless, a few cryptocurrency exchanges which include Payplux and Remitano have emerged to pro t from the minority of enthusiasts.
Another area which has received some wide-spread attention within Ghana’s fintech sector is micro-insurance. Leapfrog Investments – a financial services fund which is a leader in emerging markets – has invested over $15 million in Ghana’s insurance sector since 2012. MTN Ghana in 2011, partnered with Hollard Insurance, MicroEnsure and MFS Africa to launch a micro nance product called mi-Life. A similar product was set up by Tigo Ghana in partnership with Bima and MicroEnsure. These advancements in fintech beyond the basic current account functions of mobile money are proof of greater financial inclusion and deepening. However, at present, the Central Bank of Ghana (BOG) is still taking a light-handed approach to regulation.
In the meantime, the BOG has issued guidelines to regulate mobile financial services in the country. These guidelines issued in 2015, are known as the Electronic- Money Issuers (EMI) and Agent guidelines. They have been employed as a means of reducing the risks associated with the mobile money platform, whilst still not trying to stifle the seedlings of innovation within the country.