The First Deputy Governor of Bank of Ghana (BoG), Dr. Maxwell Opoku-Afari has said the central bank is in the advanced stages of piloting a digital currency as part of the digital Ghana and cash-lite society agenda.
According to him, barring any unforeseen circumstance, the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), also known as the e-cedi, will be piloted from September this year.
Dr. Opoku-Afari believes the introduction of the regulated digital currency would further deepen financial inclusion, promote the efficiency and stability of the payment system, and foster competition in the financial sector.
He was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a two-day workshop organized by the Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA) under the theme, “Understanding the Monetary Policies in a Post Pandemic Era”.
The First Deputy Governor stated, “We have to take our time to design it with all the security features to ensure that when we make the e-cedi public no one will be able to create fake ones. So we to first pilot it in a sandbox to learn lessons, fix what needs to be fixed before we open it up to the entire population.”
According to him, the central bank already has a sandbox in which loads of FinTechs and banks are connected so they are looking at selecting about 500 of those FinTechs for the piloting from September and the success rate will determine when the e-cedi will be introduced to the general public.
Dr. Opoku-Afari noted that unlike mobile money, which is just electronic money backed by cash, e-cedi is cash in itself, so when it goes public, people can actually go to a bank and ask for either part or all of their money to be saved in e-cedi form.
“The central bank’s digital currency is fiat money – it is cash on its own,” he said.
He noted that with GHQR Code already launched and in use by the banks, accessing the e-cedi for transactions even becomes easier and convenient for Ghanaians when it is finally introduced to the public.
GHQR allows Ghanaians to have access to all of their money in the bank and make huge financial transactions with them without any limitations, and that promises to make access to e-cedi even more convenient.
Dr. Opoku-Afari also noted that part of the preparations for the launch of the digital currency would be to ensure coordination between BoG and other central banks across the world, to enable Ghanaians use e-cedi for international transactions as well.
Touching on BoG’s stance on cryptocurrency, he noted that because crypto is currently not regulated nor backed by any government, it is a volatile and risky space, but the technology behind it, which is blockchain and distributed ledger system are powerful tools that can be used for trade financing, remittances and other – so the central bank is studying how it can use those technologies for the benefit of Ghanaians.
He however, believes with the introduction of the e-cedi, Ghanaians who want to trade in the digital space would be able to do so safely and conveniently.