The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has begun piloting the e-cedi in Sefwi Asafo in the Western North Region, the Governor Dr Ernest Addison said on Monday.
The e-cedi is designed as a digital replica of the Ghana cedi notes and coins. It is crafted as a retail token-based digital currency stored in a digital wallet, convertible to Ghana cedis in the form of cash or deposit money on a 1:1 ratio.
This is to say that the owner of e-cedis can redeem them for physical cedis and use it for a variety of payments.
Speaking at the Ghana CEO Summit in Accra on Monday (30 May), Addison said the outcome of the piloting will be critical in rolling out the e-cedi on a full scale.
“So far, the usage and uptake of the offline version of the e-cedi is being piloted in a small town called Sefwi Asafo, in the Western North Region. Selected users in that community have been using the e-cedi for daily purchases such as food, groceries and drinks.
“The BoG will continue to work with these users to obtain the critical usage data that will inform the decision about the e-cedi’s future after the pilot,” Addison said.
“These are clearly landmark events in providing digital leadership with the payment systems to lead to a digitalised economy in the near future,” the BoG boss said.
Banking sector players believe e-cedi can help reduce money laundering
A survey by the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) indicates that 85% of respondents believe the e-cedi can help reduce money laundering and other illegal financial activities given the traceability and transparency usually associated with blockchain enabled solutions.
According to the PwC 2021 Ghana Banking survey, 60% of the respondents expect an improvement in the country’s foreign exchange reserves on the back of the safer, quicker and traceable medium of cross border payments and remittances the e-cedi provides.
“It must however be emphasised that the reserve positions of a country are much more a function of the competitiveness of that economy supported by the goods and services it produces and offers and the demand for those,” the survey added.
Banks expect a boost in trade finance activities with the introduction of the e-cedi. “Clearly there are benefits to the regulator and the nation at large if the e-cedi is well implemented.”
According to the survey, 95% of the respondents believe the e-cedi will positively impact the banking sector and wider economy by deepening financial inclusion, supporting the country’s digitisation agenda and helping improve monetary policy given the enhanced control of the regulator over money supply in digital currency form.
Infrastructure for e-cedi introduction
Also, 80% of the respondents are not ready with the required infrastructure and or are not sure if their current infrastructure will support the use of the e-cedi when introduced.
However, 78% of the respondents believe whatever form the e-cedi takes and technology requirements, their infrastructure should be ready within two years.
The 2021 Ghana Banking Survey seeks to explore the readiness of the Ghanaian banking sector for the e-Cedi, its design and potential impact use, regulatory implications, what the expected benefits and challenges are and the future prospects of this “new” form of the Ghana Cedi.
PwC surveyed bank executives – chief executive officers, chief finance officers, chief risk officers, chief operation officers, heads of information technology and heads of strategy – in Ghana through interviews and questionnaires.
These tools were carefully designed to elicit views on the readiness of the banks for the introduction of the e-cedi, its design and potential impact use, regulatory implications, the expected benefits and challenges and the prospects. 20 banks (out of the total of 23) participated in the survey.