The forward-thinking, proactive posture and actions of the primary financial sector regulator – the Bank of Ghana (BoG) – guarantees the nation will be at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial and digital financial revolutions on the continent, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AZA Finance, Elizabeth Rossiello, has suggested.
Over the course of the last two decades, the regulator has fostered an enabling regulatory environment with the introduction of tools such as the Ghana Interbank Settlement (GIS) system, Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Limited (GhIPSS), Payment Systems and Services Act in 2019, the establishment of a dedicated FinTech and Innovation Office the year after, as well as the introduction of a regulatory sandbox.
These, in addition to the relative ease of doing business, clarity of the regulatory regime, in addition to the rapidly-expanding pool of local talent, she argues, will ensure the country attracts critical investment and serve as a blueprint for its peers.
“In all my recent interactions, I have had to mention how great it is to see how active the regulator is. Here in Ghana, we are seeing licenses being processed in a reasonable time without sacrificing due diligence,” she said at the conclusion of a recent working visit to the country.
She added that inasmuch as some FinTechs are apprehensive over interactions with regulators, the future of digital finance demands regulated entities; ones that adhere to standard Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), and Know-Your-Customer (KYC) protocols.
“Although some FinTechs struggle with the concept and application of regulation in some way, I believe it is the path forward because, without regulatory oversight, many institutions would not want to work with you. As innovative as we come, we need to have that to offer a standard of certainty and security,” she added.
Mrs. Rossiello – who co-chairs the World Economic Forum’s Council on Blockchain and sits on the Global Advisory Board of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution – agrees with other international bodies such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) that, with adequate funding, the local talent compete with their peers from other regions.
“One of the most exciting things for me is the abundance of local tech talent and I believe if the digital drive is sustained and there is adequate investment in developing this talent, it would be tremendous.”
The IFC estimated that between 2020 and 2030, Ghana could have business-to-business and business-to-government opportunities that reach about 18 million people who require digital skills with revenue potential in excess of US$4 billion.
Offering thoughts on the growing partnership between banks and FinTechs, the AZA Finance CEO said she expects continued collaborations which would lead to more efficient and streamlined offerings. “I foresee a streamlining of banking operations, with banks getting smaller headcount wise, and banks will, perhaps, focus more on corporate lending whilst the FinTechs participate more in consumer offerings.”