In the past few years, the unprecedented growth of mobile financial services in sub-Saharan Africa has defied all expectations. While Kenya is often cited as a leading example of digital transformation, Ghana has recently become the fastest-growing mobile money market in Africa, with registered accounts increasing six-fold between 2012 and 2017. The country’s experience provides a fresh perspective on its digital transformation and demonstrates that technology can help modernize the financial system as well as also support greater financial inclusion.
In Ghana, mobile financial services are mostly used by those poorly served by the traditional financial sector. The 2017 Global Findex database indicates that access to formal financial services rose from 41% of adults in 2014 to 58% in 2017]. This is largely attributable to mobile accounts, with 20% of digital-wallet users being previously unbanked. These now represent about 40% of all account holders, compared to 13% in 2014.
Furthermore, by reducing the lengths of transactions as well as the associated risks and costs, mobile-money solutions better meet the needs of vulnerable customers such as smallholder farmers. While rural access to formal financial accounts is still low, figures have almost doubled since 2011, [from 26% to 51%]. Today, approximately 40% of payments for the sale of agricultural products are made via a formal account, and in most cases into a mobile-money account.