The First Deputy Governor of Bank of Ghana (BoG), Maxwell Opoku-Afari has said the central bank is in the advanced stages of piloting a digital currency to move the economy towards a cash-lite environment.
Barring any unforeseen circumstance, he noted that the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will be piloted from September this year.
Mr Opoku-Afari added that the project would further advance financial inclusion, promote the efficiency and stability of the payment system, and foster competition in the financial sector.
Speaking to the media at the sidelines of a workshop organised by the Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA) under the theme, "Understanding the Monetary Policies in a Post Pandemic Era", the First 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.''
Without giving the timelines for the launch of the digital currency, Mr Opoku-Afari indicated that the central bank's digital currency is fiat money. "It is cash on its own."
He continued, "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.
"The mobile monies transaction are not backed by cash and hence limiting the value addition. 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.
"Cryptocurrency is not yet legal in Ghana and not regulated by the central bank. That technology is very laudable and we have setup a team that is studying it.''
The First Deputy Governor added that the widespread use of mobile money was given an added boost when the Ghana Interbank Payments and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) introduced the national Quick Response (QR) Code payment solution last year to simplify merchant payments and reduce the use of cash.
He emphasised that the QR Code has since been made available to banks and payment service providers, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises to enhance business transactions.