The Bank of Ghana has urged financial technology innovators (Fintechs) to embed sustainability concerns in their innovations if they are to stay relevant in the foreseeable future and contribute to the country’s development.
Speaking at the bank’s regulatory sandbox engagement forum in Accra, which brought together various Fintechs, partnering banks and other financial institutions, First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Maxwell Opoku-Afari – in a speech delivered on his behalf by the Head of Fintech & Innovation Office, Kwame Oppong – encouraged the innovators not to ignore the advantage they stand to gain when they inculcate sustainability into their products and services, as that can be a bait to attract funding and investment to their businesses.
“Let me underscore the importance of responsible innovation in this endeavour. Globally, sustainability has taken centre-stage in all spheres of human activity. The need to assess possible negative impacts from our innovations on present and future societies has become more critical than ever.
“The plethora of phrases such as ‘green finance’, responsible investment, sustainable finance; environment, social and governance; and climate finance in current discourse indicate the seriousness modern society attaches to sustainable innovations. Adoption of responsible innovation presents in FinTech design ethos a unique national advantage, with the potential to attract investments into our FinTech ecosystem for the creation of employment and wealth,” he said.
The Bank of Ghana’s Regulatory Sandbox has been designed for innovators to test innovative financial products, services and business models in a controlled but live environment under supervision of the central bank.
To this end, Dr. Opoku-Afari emphasised that the Bank of Ghana will continue exercising strict oversight over the industry in order to protect integrity of the financial sector and investments of customers.
“To meet the changing needs of customers, as well as address challenges of the industry, calls for pragmatic and innovative solutions which confront the status quo. This we consider a shared responsibility of the regulator and the innovators to create a conducive environment for experimentation. This approach, though useful, has its own risks; and if not properly directed could be disastrous to society. A laissez-faire attitude to innovation and financial service delivery is therefore an unsuitable approach to accommodate.
“With regard to developments in virtual assets, the Bank continues to monitor developments on a regular basis; and the many cautionary notices issued indicate the presence of significant inherent risks. While we do stand by these cautions, we are open to dialogue geared toward the potential exploration of regulatory outcomes keenly focused on consumer interest and protection. The Sandbox could potentially present us with these opportunities,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Telecom Chamber, Ken Ashigbey, commended the central bank for the Regulatory Sandbox project and urged regulators of other industries to also introduce similar programmes which will promote innovation in their respective sectors.
He urged the industry to come out with practical solutions and suggestions that support government to generate revenues from the digital space, and which will not bring about any disruption to their businesses.