An Executive Secretary of the Ghana Micro-finance Institutions Network (GHAMFIN), Dr. David O. Andah has said the expansion of mobile usage especially in the rural areas has increased access to basic banking services.
“Mobile networks do reach remote areas at low cost, consequently a large number of people in the rural areas own mobile handsets”, he said.
Speaking at the presentation of the “Txt n Pay” service to corporate institutions in Accra, Dr. Andah said mobile phone communication has grown faster in the Sub-Saharan Africa than most parts of the world.
Subscribers, he said, are estimated to be in excess of 200 million currently and in Ghana, the figure is over 8 million.
He said the lack of access to financial services has been a major limitation to economic development and called for psychological and micro-finance methodologies and interventions to help reduce or eliminate the barriers to financial services to the poor.
Dr. Andah said the three northern regions in Ghana constitute about half the land area of the country but they have less than 10% of the outlets of financial services.
He said out of the estimated 125 rural and community banks in the country, only 11 are operating in these regions. “Collectively, there are about 450 outlets for rural banking services in the country of which only about 20 are in these regions”, he said.
Currently, there is an aggressive expansion of commercial bank branch networks, but these outlets, he said, are all in towns that have the capacity to sustain commercial banking operations.
Dr. Andah said it is estimated that 80% of Ghanaian population have limited or no access to banking services.
The expansion of banking services has been more of physical expansion which necessitates that customers must get to the offices of the banks to transact their financial businesses. “This is a difficult situation in the remote areas”.
He said the introduction of ATMs has enhanced convenient banking and has enabled customers to access their cash and bank statements outside banking hours.
He commended Bank of Ghana for the approach made in the introduction of the e-Zwitch service to deepen the financial system.
He said apart from depositing or withdrawing cash, the e-Zwitch provides for payments to third parties on transferring money.
Dr. Andah said offering banking services through mobile phones is one option that offers great potential for reaching many poor people in deprived areas and described the “Txt n Pay” service as very laudable.
The Txt n Pay service is an initiative by the Afric Xpress, technology and security experts in the telecommunication industry.
The Txt n Pay service is a mobile phone-based secured payment system that enables its users to send money to anyone with a mobile phone, pay bills, buy pre-paid airtime, and check their account balance, purchase goods and services all from the comfort of their mobile phones.
It is designed for the ultimate convenience and security of consumers. All transactions are completed in real-time and the fund availability is immediate.