BoG promotes innovation in financial services sector

The Head of Fintech and Innovation at Bank of Ghana, Kwame Oppong, has said the central bank has implemented a regulatory reform to enable innovation in the financial services industry without compromising financial stability.

He said, for instance, that the BoG in 2020, established a Fintech Innovation Office, one of the few of such outfits among central banks globally, to regulate, supervise and nurture Fintech in line with its commitment to innovation.

“So far, a total of 47 payment service providers and mobile money operators have been given approval – both Ghanaian and foreign across various license categories to provide payment services,” he said.

Mr Oppong made the call when leading Fintechs, investors and digital finance stakeholders converged on Accra to connect and build network at the Africa Money and Decentralised Finance (DeFi) Summit.

The two-day summit organised by the Africa Tech Summit; a leading tech event series, shared insights on payments, crypto, DeFi, mobile money and investing and connected corporates, investors, start-ups, regulators, media and industry stakeholders.

The summit showcased industry leaders including Polygon, Celo, Paystack, Visa, Workpay, among others.

It featured over 400 delegates, more than 150 companies, and over 75 speakers covering topics through panel session, keynotes and fireside chats, plus multiple networking events, masterclass sessions and an exhibition showcasing top products and innovations.

Open door policy

Mr Oppong said the central bank had an open door policy where it engaged with industry stakeholders, prospective service providers and innovators towards the promotion of a safe, sustainable and inclusive innovation.

Mr Oppong added that the BoG had also invested resources to study and monitor the development in virtual assets and similar products, including Decentralised Finance Applications and non- tangible tokens.

“The study revealed some challenges in cryptocurrencies as regards to volatility, consumer protection, money laundering, terrorism financing risks, which has led various policy makers to react in short of effective regulation,” he said.

On that basis, he said the BoG did not recognise the crypto currency for regulatory purposes.

“We have, however, noted recent efforts by the crypto currency industry to remedy some of these volatility concerns of regulators in a form of stable coin but the significant risks still persist,” he added.

He said despite the challenges, the potential opportunities for block chain in driving innovation could not be discounted although it was yet to fully mature.

He said the BoG would continue to monitor development and implement measures fit for virtual assets to forestall any risks with the ecosystem in collaborating with other regulators and stakeholders when necessary.

Crypto growing

The Founder of Africa Tech Summit, Andrew Fassnidge, said the summit was organised in Ghana after calls from Fintech industry players to bring the summit to West Africa following a sold-out Money and DeFi Summit organised in Nairobi early this year.

He said it was an exciting time in the digital finance space as crypto was growing across Africa and the new wave of DeFi.

He noted that a live pitch organised as part of the summit provided a platform for 10 ventures to pitch their businesses to investors and partners who were looking to invest in them.

He said the traditional Fintech banking and financial services and the new world of DeFi and crypto were coming together, stating that there would be lots of innovations and investments.

“For instance, there are a lot of Fintechs built by African’s such as Zeepay and others, which have revolutionised payments for the man on the street,” he noted.