The Bank of Ghana (BoG) is collaborating with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to develop a programme to promote the growth of Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the country, Second Deputy Governor, Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari, has said.
The project dubbed ‘Business Sans Borders’ is meant to assist SMEs in Ghana leverage digital technology to improve on their businesses as well as give them access to global market opportunities.
Speaking at the 5th Chief Executive Officers Summit, Dr Opoku-Afari said the increasing adoption of digital payment and technology present opportunity for businesses to reach and gain more customers.
“Obviously the more than 17 million active mobile money accounts provide ample evidence of the increasing adoption of digital payments and provide a fertile ground for businesses to explore digital channels to interact with customers. I must emphasise that the financial sector digitisation programme is part of the bigger project of the Government in a bid to formalise the economy through digital technology,” he said.
It was on the theme “Digital Transformation: Powering Business and Government Reset for a Post-Pandemic Economic Resilience. A Public-Private Sector Dialogue.”
He said in spite of the tremendous achievements towards building a financial inclusive society through digitisation, the COVID-19 containment measures put in place at the height of the pandemic by the Government highlighted the digitisation gap and brought to fore the extent to which this gap could be exploited by businesses for economic efficiency and growth.
The inability of businesses to incorporate and embrace digitalisation in their business models, the Second Deputy Governor said would undoubtedly create a void with dire consequences for the survivability of businesses during a post-pandemic pandemic.
“Let me be clear that this transition will not be an easy one as there will be costs associated with changing business models. But this is where businesses will have to be resolute and remain steadfast in the pursuit of their ideals and take a long-term view of where they want to see their operations a decade from now,” Dr Opoku-Afari.
The Second Deputy Governor said “some school of thought posited that if properly harnessed over the medium, resetting the economy to fully harness the ongoing process of digitisation was what would trigger structural reforms and economic transformation in developing economies, with Ghana at the forefront.”
He said the BoG was aware that some businesses were beginning to internalise the new normal and were taking adequate steps to adopt digital technology in their operations to ensure their relevance as well as grow their business traffic,” said the Second Deputy Governor.
The Second Deputy Governor explained that the surge in customer online transactions progressed, in large part due to the COVID-19 restrictions imposed on the economy with limited movements, we are beginning to witness strong and enduring habits that were gravitating more towards online customer-business interactions.
“A customer-centric business would of necessity have to restructure its operations to accommodate the increasing customer preference for online buying,” Dr Opoku-Afari stressed.
To make it easier for businesses to receive and make online payments, the Second Deputy Governor said some payment service providers licensed by the Bank had been permitted to provide merchant acquiring and payment aggregation service for businesses.
The solutions, the Second Deputy Governor stressed were designed and made available to businesses in a manner that did not impose high infrastructure cost and complex connectivity requirements and in furtherance of that, the Bank of Ghana had issued a three-tier merchant digital account with proportionate onboarding requirements to guide financial service providers in meeting the peculiar needs of small and medium scale enterprises.
“This policy change is expected to facilitate acceptance of digital payments by small and medium size enterprises so as to provide convenience to their customers and also expand the geographical reach of their business,” Dr Opoku-Afari said.
BY KINGSLEY ASARE