Cyber-crimes have the potential to erode confidence in the country’s financial payment systems if not fought relentlessly, President Nana Akufo-Addo has warned.
He said it is important that stakeholders in the financial payments sector – including banks, fintechs, regulators, among others – put in place measures which reduce external vulnerabilities to the barest minimum, while imbuing confidence in the general public.
“Cyber-attacks in the digital payments space have become sophisticated and it is important that we close gaps to deal with these emerging threats, lest we risk erosion of confidence in our financial payment systems,” Mr. Akufo-Addo said.
The president said this at the opening of the 26th Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) African Regional Conference (ARC), a three-day event in Accra.
He said just as technology offers opportunities to grow economies and bring progress to people, there are criminal syndicates who will always be bent on exploiting it for their selfish interests.
“I am aware that SWIFT is working with Ghana, just as it is doing in other countries, to reduce vulnerability to these external risks.
“I continue to urge the bank of Ghana to make sure that our financial sector remains fit for global integration by ensuring compliance with international standards,” he added.
In order to position the country as the financial and innovation hub in the sub-region, he said, government – through the Bank of Ghana and other stakeholders – will continue to introduce reforms aimed at giving the country a competitive edge.
In furtherance of this, he said, the BoG has revised, amended and consolidated all existing payment systems, regulatory frameworks into the new Payment Systems and Services Act, 2019.
He said: “We expect the new legislation to ensure that our banks, non-bank financial institutions, especially rural and community banks, provide services that will bring banking and financial transactions even closer to the public”.
SWIFT ARC 2019
Under the theme ‘Enabling the digital economy’, the three-day conference runs from June 18-20, 2019, and is expected to bring together 6,000 experts from across the world to shape the future of financial payment systems and technology in Africa.
At the event, it was revealed that SWIFT FIN messaging traffic in Africa has grown by 4.4% in the year-to-date.
In the West African Monetary Zone, figures show that SWIFT traffic increased by 29.0% – far exceeding SWIFT global traffic growth of 6.7% for the same period, with Ghana and Nigeria recording a growth of 32.1% and 24.5% respectively.
According to the latest SWIFT figures, total traffic growth in Africa has slowed since this time last year, when it reached 16.7%. This, SWIFT added, is likely driven by slower economic growth in several African countries, including South Africa.
SWIFT traffic growth in SADC dropped to 1.6% from 17.4% in the same period in 2018. Traffic growth in South Africa specifically has slowed to 2.9%, down from 14.4% last year.
The overall figure does not, however, reflect the strong results in many African markets. In addition to countries in West Africa seeing robust growth such as Gambia at 18.9%, Liberia at 13.8% and Sierra Leone at 22.6%, several markets in East Africa also experienced strong traffic growth.
Kenya and Rwanda saw an increase of 9.4% and 37.1% respectively, versus the same period in 2018, a press release by SWIFT said.
Denis Kruger, Head of sub-Sahara Africa-SWIFT said: “Africa is an important market for SWIFT and a critical component of our business. Even in the face of global economic challenges, many African countries continue to outperform SWIFT’s global traffic growth. Africa’s financial industry is a key enabler of economic development.
“The SWIFT African Regional Conference is therefore an important platform for financial services stakeholders from across Africa to share ideas, and ultimately define the future of financial services in Africa.”