To build cashless economy, gov’t must take the lead – digital experts

Dario Bianchi, Digital Services Consultant, MTN Ghana

For Ghana to achieve the dream of a cashless economy, government must take the lead in deploying digital options for others such as private businesses and individuals to follow, digital experts have said.

Dario Bianchi, Digital Services Consultant-MTN Ghana, said operating a cashless or contactless economy post COVID-19 is attainable; but government must make a conscious effort to provide the enabling environment that will support small and medium scale businesses to adopt digital systems and thrive in the digital space. And in doing so, the use of mobile apps must be given priority – which means everyone must be able to own a smartphone.

“A cashless/contactless economy thrives on digital payments, and the advent of mobile money (MoMo) in Ghana has helped in pushing this agenda over the past few years – but there are still challenges with the processes and systems which must be improved to make it seamless, now that COVID-19 has made it a necessity.

“Government must be the first institution to start using the digital economy, and must put in a lot of work to ensure that connectivity becomes a priority. Handling payment systems going forward must be contactless; therefore, shop attendants, all MoMo agents and digital payment handlers must be sensitised on the need to avoid making contact with client’s devices and vice versa,” he said.

Mr. Bianchi made the remarks while speaking in an Africa Digital Festival webinar on the theme ‘Building a contactless economy beyond COVID-19’.

He added that Internet connectivity and universal access to smartphones are key prerequisites to building a cashless or contactless economy post COVID-19, reiterating that the more people get smartphones the more the economy grows.

To buttress his point, Abeeku Entsua-Mensah – Researcher, Business Strategy and Innovation at Deloitte Ghana, emphasised that building a cashless economy requires government to ensure all stakeholders play their roles efficiently.

To him, Africa has no choice other than to digitise in order to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of technology and digital business.

“A contactless economy requires an action plan on economy and digitisation. A proper addressing system, proper community layout and good road networks are all important for delivering in a cashless economy. Making digital payment via momo is the end of the digital value chain, the points or processes one goes through to reach the end of the value chain need to be well-developed,” he said.

But Mr. Bianchi indicated that there are potential frauds associated with digital payment platforms, with momo fraud being the main one in Ghana – hence the need to embark on massive education and sensitisation by all stakeholders and not only the telcos, now that a contactless economy is the way to go.

Elaborating on security measures, Mr. Bianchi emphasised the need for government to speed up with implementing the national identification system; as that will give all citizens a biometric identity and also invest more in the use of a digital address system to ensure easy identification of criminals who would like to defraud businesses.

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