Ghana Banks Turn to Mobile Money in Bid to Boost Deposit Base


A record number of Ghanaians are saving money using mobile phones as lenders push products to lure deposits using technology that is cheaper than building branches.

Deposits with mobile-money providers jumped 25 percent to 1.57 billion cedis ($360 million) this year through April, the Accra-based central bank said in a response to questions this month. That compares with 19.6 million cedis in 2012, when the Bank of Ghana began compiling the data.

Lenders including Fidelity Bank Ltd. and AFB Ghana Plc this year began offering savings products to mobile-phone users, while Ecobank Ghana Ltd. in 2016 allowed customers to buy government Treasury bills over their devices. The value of transactions over mobile phones reached 11.5 billion cedis during April, after measuring 9.6 billion cedis during January and only 594 million cedis for all of 2012, according to the regulator’s data.

The percentage of Ghanaians using financial services outside of banks increased to 22 percent in 2015 compared with 7 percent in 2010, PwC said in its 2016 Ghana Banking Survey, citing World Bank data. Only 36 percent of the population had a bank account in 2015, compared with 34 percent five years earlier, the report showed. By April last year Ghana had about 36.4 million mobile-voice subscribers, exceeding the population of 27.8 million, according to PwC.

“Mobile-money deposits are cheaper to collect than setting up bank branches, it will help to boost profit,” said William Derban, director of strategic partnerships at Fidelity Bank. “It will grow.”