Ghana to start CBDC pilot in September as it seeks to reduce cash reliance

The Ghanaian central bank is in advanced stages in its development of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), with a pilot set to start in September. According to the bank’s deputy governor, Ghana will be seeking to use the CBDC to reduce its reliance on cash.

Maxwell Opoku-Afari, the first deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana, revealed the advancements in the West African country’s CBDC development during a recent industry event.

Speaking to the media at the sidelines of a workshop organized by a journalists body, the deputy governor stated, “We have to take out time to design it with all the security features and so have started it in a pilot phase through what we call a sand-box to learn lessons before we open it up to the general public.”

He added, “The piloting phase is expected to start by September and the success rate will determine the step. We will continue to keep the sand-box to promote innovation.”

Ghana has been on a path towards digitizing payments, and a CBDC has been on top of the central bank’s agenda. As far back as 2019, Governor Ernest Addison revealed that the bank was working with stakeholders on a CBDC. He described it at the time as a great opportunity for the financial sector to “re-orient itself to satisfy the new consumer and business demands for financial services.”

Last month, Governor Addison once again affirmed that the bank was working on a CBDC and was “in advanced stages” in its development.

And now, as per a report by Modern Ghana, the deputy governor has revealed new details about the project.

He stated, “Digital Currency is part of the central bank acknowledging the need for digital payment and digital delivery of financial services, this is formally to get into that space and be able to provide a platform on which we can add more value to digital transactions.”

A CBDC in Ghana would be largely intertwined with mobile payments which have been on a steady rise in the past couple of years. The deputy governor believes that the two will complement each other and offer Ghanaians more variety in their payments.

Opoku-Afari had high praise for the upcoming CBDC, stating, “The central bank’s digital currency is fiat money, it is cash on its own so that financial institutions like the banks and fintechs will be able to create value addition on the digital cash.”

The executive acknowledged that there’s still a long way to go for digital currency use in Ghana. For one, “cryptocurrency is not yet legal in Ghana and not regulated by the central bank,” he stated. However, the apex bank is working on it and has set up a team to study the industry, he revealed.

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