This was revealed by the first deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Maxwell Opoku-Afari at the 7th Rural Banking Week celebration of the Association of Rural Banks in Takoradi over the weekend.
According to the first deputy governor of the Central Bank, the Global Financial Index Report 2019 published by the World Bank, indicates that access to formal financial services in Ghana grew from 40.5 percent in 2014 to 57.7 percent in 2017.
He said Ghana lags behind many of its peers, such as South Africa with 85 percent access to formal financial services, Kenya having 75 percent access, Rwanda with 68 percent and Lesotho having 61 percent.
Dr. Opoku-Afari further indicated that the trend suggests that despite the strides that the country has attained especially in the mobile money account which has more than quadrupled in less than a decade, there is more scope for improvement.
He said the Rural and Community Banks(RCBs) have a crucial role to play by supporting the government to achieve the objectives of the National Financial Inclusion strategy with a target of an increase from current 57.7 percent access to formal financial services of 75 percent by 2023.
He intimated that as the national strategy focuses on increasing formal financial inclusion, implementing partners such as the rural and community banks (RCBs) must leverage technology to reach the underbanked and the un-banked in the local communities.
Technology and financial innovation provide opportunities for widening access to financial services by creating opportunities for branchless banking and real time access to bank accounts and financial services. Many rural dwellers have mobile phones which opens up a whole new possibility for the under-served and un-banked to access mobile money accounts and other digital financial services, he stated.
To deepen financial inclusion further, the first deputy governor of the Central Bank said the rural and community banks(RCBs) must use their unique positions in the rural communities to introduce digital financial services to reach the un-banked via mobile money technology. Adding that access to affordable finance services will enable the rural poor and vulnerable to undertake economic activities and take advantage of growth opportunities for economic empowerment.
To this end Dr. Opoku-Afari urged the Rural and Community Banks(RCBs) to invest in the appropriate IT infrastructure (or where possible partner with FINTECH) to enable them reach out to the un-banked within their catchment areas to deepen financial inclusion.
Ghana | Atinkaonline.com | Matthew Dadzie, Takoradi.