Do you remember high school, when given feeding money, parents will always say spend wisely and save? Do you remember? That’s finance.
Do you remember that chop money: The various food/ food ingredients you could buy from that money? That’s finance glaring hard at you.
All around us, we have all practiced finance one way or the other, either by paying for service following a tight budget or managing resource/s judiciously. Today, we want the whole world to appreciate and accept its importance especially in times like this, where Covid is still having a grip on many major industries and economies. As a result of Covid protocols, people have restricted their movements thereby increasing access to a lot of digital financial transactions.
Finance to the individual means managing money, budgeting, savings and investing, etc. To the government, it means to review, approve, and management of all public sector debt, domestic or foreign and rationalization, privatization, and public accountability of corporations and assets owned, controlled, or acquired. To a business, it’s a way to determine what money to spend, where to spend it and when it should be spent.
According to a report by The World Bank, Financial Inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial information i.e. products and services that meet their needs- transactions, payments, savings, credit, and insurance delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.
In 2011, The World Bank with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Launched the Global Findex database, the world’s most comprehensive data set on how adults save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk. The Global Findex database covers more than 140 economies around the world.
The 2017 Global Findex database shows that 1.2 billion adults worldwide have gotten access to an account since 2011. Today about 69% of adults have various financial accounts to facilitate this movement. For me, this is progress. Between 2014 and 2017, adults who have accounts with financial institutions or through a mobile money service rose globally from 62% to 69%. In developing economies, from 54% to 63%. However, close to one-third of adults- about 1.7 billion are still unbanked: this includes women, poor households in rural areas or out of the workforce. The question is, how do we get all these people from this level called “unbanked”?
The Government of Ghana also seeks to reduce economic vulnerability and income inequality through the development of financial inclusion policy. The Ministry of Finance, in collaboration with financial sector regulators and other key stakeholders, developed a National Financial Inclusion and Development Strategy to address the fundamental barriers preventing the underserved population from accessing financial products and services.
The pillars of the strategy are Financial Stability, Access, Quality and Usage of Financial Services, Financial Infrastructure, Financial Consumer Protection, Financial Literacy, and Capacity. Ultimately, the strategy seeks to increase financial inclusion from 58% (acquired in 2015) to 85% by 2023. Are we achieving the target? It will be based on our current numbers. People must be enlightened. People must be deliberately sensitized.
Governments must deliberately collaborate with other entities promoting Financial Inclusion. Sensitize all, using mediums favorable and can be understood by all. Thanks to technology, some in the comfort of their homes can access this information online. Can you imagine a country where its citizens are able to differentiate between a good investment and a bad one? Its adults are financially knowledgeable and can make informed decisions.
Financial consultants must be handy and easily accessible by all.
History tells us Government of Ghana has spent a lot of money, ensuring sanity in its financial system. The recent one is the Menzgold scandal. Do we want to be spending every time? Let’s educate people on the effects of not being financially literate and they will understand why they must know.
I believe if people are well informed, they can make good decisions. They will understand and it will save the government lots of resources.
MTN mobile money was launched in Ghana 2009 but did not gain much attention due to Bank of Ghana (BOG) restrictive 2008 Branchless Banking guidelines. A few years later, BOG revised the banking regulations and look at the effect. Today, MTN mobile money has 75% plus active accounts. Change is a gradually process. Don’t forget Branchless Banking can increase the financial services outreach to the unbanked individual/communities.
- PAUL KOFI MANTE is among the notable Finance experts in Ghana promoting “Financial Independence”
YOUNG INVESTORS NETWORK (YIN) is among the many Non-governmental Organizations promoting financial literacy in Ghana.
The World Bank Group’s Universal Financial Access 2020 initiative states that people can only store, send and receive payments only by having a transactional account. A transactional account helps one to send, receive and do banking transactions with ease. People must understand that owning an account is the first step. Extra steps must be taken to gradually understand all that there is to be known.
Financial Inclusion aims to include everyone in society by giving them basic financial services regardless of their income or savings. The focus is to provide financial solutions to economically underprivileged persons. Usually, the services provided are inexpensive and easy to use or apply.
Financial Inclusion has been identified as an enabler for 7 of the 17 sustainable Development Goals and a key enabler to reducing extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity according to a report by The World Bank Group on financial inclusion. Between 2010 and now, more than 60 countries have launched or are developing a national strategy to achieve financial inclusion among all. Countries that have achieved progress toward financial inclusion have one way or the other acted on one or all these approaches:
- Leveraged government payments. Payments are made from the government to its citizens for a service/s done. This causes citizens to open an account with designated bank. This increases access to financial products or services.
- Allow mobile financial services to thrive. Easing policies to promote more mobile financial activities on mobile platforms.
- Involved stakeholders to develop a national financial inclusion strategy.
- Expanding financial access points.
- Focus on reaching disadvantaged populations.
- Engage with standard-setting bodies to set recommendations and guidelines that will advance access to transaction accounts.
We thank God for countries that have taken the initiative to ensure their citizens understand these concepts. None of these countries achieved this milestone without deliberately and extensively working hard on their approaches. People had to sacrifice to make sure these agendas are achieved. How do you explain this phenomenon? A country with so many advantages in terms of natural and human resources but still crawling with support from foreign countries.
The issue is not money but is lack of proper and accurate information (knowledge): technical know-how.
Government must be deliberate about its approach in ensuring its citizens become financially inclusive especially with basic finance knowledge. Their understanding and application of financial knowledge must be a priority to the government and the agencies involved. Financial Institutions, regulators, and key stakeholders within the finance space across the country are doing their best and we need the government to support these entities or individuals.
We want 2022 to be a year to create Proper and functional financial habits for individual and economic growth.
Thank you for reading, I would love to hear from you.
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