Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari, the First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, has revealed that participants involved in the pilot of the eCedi, Ghana's retail central bank digital currency, have given positive feedback about the system.
According to Dr Opoku-Afari, Ghana began piloting both online and offline versions of the eCedi in 2022, and the bank decided to carry out pilots in three locations – Accra, Tarkwa, and Sefwi Asafo – to test its functionality.
At the Payments Canada Summit held in Toronto from May 3 to May 5, 2023, Dr Opoku-Afari reported the findings of the eCedi pilot project and said that the offline experiment was carried out in Sefwi Asafo, while Accra and Tarkwa saw the online experiment.
“Ghana has been aggressively pursuing a financial sector digitisation programme for several years as it seeks to boost financial inclusion and wider economic growth,” he added.
Despite the increase in formal bank accounts in Ghana over the last decade, nearly one-third of the population is still unbanked, and any currency needs to work for all Ghanaians, no matter where they are located, said Dr Opoku-Afari.
The Bank of Ghana chose to mint the eCedi as a token-based system, and then distribute it via commercial players, one mobile money provider, two banks, and two payment service providers, rather than using a central bank app, to enable the ecosystem, according to Dr Opoku-Afari.
In contrast, the offline experiment saw the eCedi distributed via smart card and concentrated on merchant payments, run purely by the Bank without commercial players, as 99% of these transactions were still carried out in cash as of 2017.
The Deputy Governor said the Bank wanted to test whether the currency could work for consecutive offline payments if the target users could use it, and if they would want to use it.