Cashlite agenda to gain momentum, e-Cedi crucial – AZA Finance

The Head of Partnerships and API Sales at AZA Finance, Luis Cambronero Pérez, is predicting a big year for the local cashlite agenda – with tools such as the e-Cedi expected to play a key role as more people continue to see the benefits of direct payments over cash.

Digital payments have grown exponentially over the last decade, and despite concerns over the E-levy’s introduction of last year, segment leader mobile money surpassed the GH¢1trillion mark compared to GH¢902billion in 2021.

And with the Bank of Ghana (BoG) looking to replicate the spread of mobile money, Mr. Pérez believes the central bank digital currency (CBDC) will deepen the use of digital payments.

He also noted that digital payments can help to reduce the cost and inconvenience of handling cash, which can be a significant burden for small businesses and individuals. “We expect 2023 to be a big year for the cashlite agenda in Ghana. The e-Cedi and other digital payment tools are transforming the way people do business, and we believe this trend will only continue to grow as the benefits of direct payments over cash – such as increased security, transparency and efficiency – are already being witnessed,” said Mr. Pérez.

Last year, the BoG indicated that it had piloted its CBDC with offline capabilities in Sefwi Asafo and other communities, adding that it had been well-received. At the end of 2022, it was estimated that around 110 countries – representing approximately 95 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – had developed or were exploring the possibility of introducing a CBDC.

While anticipating regulation to be a key component in the digital transformation drive, AZA Finance’s Head of Partnerships and API Sales lauded the Bank of Ghana – which recently won the RegTech of the Year award at the Ghana FinTech Awards 2022 – for its proactivity.

“It is safe to say that irrespective of how much innovation is made over the next few years, regulation will determine the speed of adoption; and in the fast-paced world of technology it could be make or break. That is why we continue to commend the Bank of Ghana for its proactivity without compromising its oversight duties,” he emphasised.

Mr. Pérez also backed recent suggestions that funding to start-ups on the continent will continue to rise for the foreseeable future, saying Africa’s young population base should see it emerge as a winner in the tech space.

“Young people are the drivers and users of many of these innovative tools, and the tide continues to shift in Africa’s favour. The dynamism and potential of its young people will continue to shine,” he said, adding that Ghana, which is a top-five destination for fintech funding, is poised to benefit significantly.

Currently, over 60 percent of the population in Africa is aged below 25 years.  And it is projected that by 2030 young Africans will make up 42 percent of the worldwide youth population, while birthrates are declining in Asia, Europe and North America.