The observed rise in cases of armed robbery in Ghana has lead to search for antidote.
Studies revealed that the surge is not unconnected to massive cash transactions within the economy.
Accordingly, the Chief Executive of Stanbic Bank Ghana, Mr. Alhassan Andani, has advocated going cashless in key business transactions.
Andani, who doubles as the President of the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB), hinted that “only some 20-25 per cent of total payments in Ghana are currently done by other means apart from cash”.
“Cash is still king and this covers all the physical notes and cheques that are given to individuals and many smaller companies on a daily basis to complete most transactions in the economy.
The banker recalled that in all climes, “Cash is always a source of attraction to robbers,” stressing that “Without a pool of cash, there is no incentive for most criminals. To the extent that the reward is large, people will take risks. Once this is removed and not available for easy pickings, no one plans or schemes on how to attack you to collect what you have thereby reducing the incidence of violence around us.”
Explaining more, he advised business operators in Ghana to avail themselves with the plethora of digital transaction products from operating banks to save themselves the security implications associated with carrying cash from one point to another.
Andani averred that there are a large number of products and services that the financial sector has rolled out to enable Ghana to go cashlite or the related concept of cashless.
“There are currently on the market products such as cards and Point of Sales devices. The cards are either debit or credit cards which can be accessed by customers of banks. There is also a full range of mobile money solutions that allow customers of the telecoms companies to collect or pay money using this channel. This sector of the economy is a huge mover of money with at least 17 million active mobile money users, a figure that is more than the total banking population in Ghana.
“Merchants can collect payments on so-called soft POSs which allow the merchants to receive money on any Internet enabled device. There is also the traditional POS which helps to eliminate cash transactions by using cards.
The Stanbic Bank boss noted that “In the same segment of the market, there are USSDs that have been deployed for very specific services for some merchants where each merchant is given a unique USSD string code that their customers can dial and use to pay for goods and services using mobile money”.
“Another entrant to the market is what allows customers to fund their mobile money or bank account with their mobile money system, and this helps to take cash out of the equation.
While stating that “Adopting a cashlite economy would lead to efficiency in the completion rates of transaction because cashlite is almost an instant payout,” Andani assured that “We will have a higher volume of completion of transactions which will drive efficiency. We will also have less litigation over transactions as the chances for losses are minimal. Cashlite and therefore more digital payment platforms provide a lot more certainty in transfer of value and receipts. There is also ease of reconciliation because the system is almost self reconciling”.
He made it clear that “To the financial sectors and its customers, a cashlite society would largely eliminate the whole industry of managing cash, the cost of which is of no real value addition to the sector nor to the customer, not to talk about the security around protecting this cash against people who have the incentive to attack people for physical notes”.