Ghana preps CBDC pilot
Ghana has announced it has begun work on a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and claims to the be the first country in Africa to do so.
In a statement released to the media, Bank of Ghana First Deputy Governor Maxwell Opoku-Afari said the plan is to launch the pilot program for the new currency by September.
“Digital Currency is part of the central bank acknowledging the need for digital payment and digital delivery of financial services… This is formally to get into that space and be able to provide a platform on which we can add more value to digital transactions,” Opoku-Afari said.
Management at Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and digital asset exchanges, believes CBDCs will have a significant impact on finance going forward.
Modulus CEO Richard Gardner said: “Being first carries weight. It’s the government and, if successfully executed, the citizenry saying that they want to live on the cutting edge of innovation and prosperity. “The technology is important, and CBDCs will change the face of finance moving forward. There’s no question about it. But, this decision speaks to more than just how the populace will interact with money and, more broadly, their assets moving forward. Blockchain technologies represent a revolution which will disrupt industries. That revolution is as much cultural as financial.”
As to Ghana’s progress with CBDCs, Gardner said: “A lot will depend on how the pilot program goes. Not just how glitchy it is, but how well the central bank is able to rebound from any glitches which arise. A beta test is designed so that you can work out all the kinks. It would be natural for them to run across a few hiccups. Once the pilot is completed, all eyes will be looking at what adjustments they made, technologically speaking, and how well the populace took to the program. Is it something folks are excited about getting access to in a full roll out, or is it receiving a lukewarm reception? How are they providing education to the populace? Those are going to be things to which other regional banks will want to pay attention.”
He added: “Ultimately, if Ghana is able to roll out a functional digital currency which is well-received, this first mover status will begin to be seen as a cultural advantage to operating in Ghana. When a Fintech firm is deciding where to develop their footprint within the African continent, a successful launch could speak to the adoption of a technological culture which companies begin to embrace. Technology is the great equalizer. If Ghana can draw innovators to their shores, they could become a burgeoning destination for budding tech companies.”