A top official of Ghana's Central Bank on Friday recommended a cashless economy for the West African country.
Speaking at a day's stakeholder forum organized by Mobile Telecom Network (MTN), Head of Payment Systems Oversight at the Bank of Ghana, Kwame Ansah, said that, looking at global trends, Ghana's economy had no option than to go cashless.
The forum, which was under the theme of "Building a Cashless Economy in Ghana: Prospects, Challenges and the Way Forward", was put together by MTN and leading local banks to brainstorm on a suitable electronic payment system for the country.
Ansah said if all the electronic payment methods in the country were harmonized and made available for people to transact business, it would reduce the cost burden the nation bore in printing, importing, distributing and maintaining currency notes and coins in the system.
For this reason, he said the central bank was putting in place measures and strategies to ensure that the e-Zwich smart cards introduced in April 2008 by the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) became available to all banks and financial institutions and made highly inter-operational.
"Studies have shown that shifting from paper-based to a more electronic-based payment system can generate an annual savings of up to one percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)," Ansah indicated.
This, he noted, would also reduce costs "through the reduction of redeployment of resources used in handling cash and cheques as well as reducing the cost of banking infrastructure in general".
He believed that electronic payment systems could also help fight corruption and money laundering as the system was transparent with an audit trail of all transactions.
On why the e-Zwich system had not been successful in spite of all the promotions carried out so far, Ansah said the basic infrastructure needed by the banks and other merchants were not available to cater for customers.