Banks accused of violating mobile money guidelines

The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications is worried that banks in the country have chosen to violate the new E-money Issuers Guidelines while the banking industry regulator, Bank of Ghana looks on.

The violation is in respect of what the guidelines said about interests to be paid to mobile money customers.

Section 10 (5 and 6) of the guidelines clearly states that “E-money issuers (telcos) shall pass-through not less than 80% of the interest accrued on the pooled e-money float net of any fees or charges related to the administration of the pooled float accounts to e-money holders (customers)…Any amount in excess of the minimum of 80% interest (i.e. 20% or lower) may be retained by the EMI (telcos). Furthermore, interest generated on over-the-counter transactions which are not associated with a given customer account may be retained in by the EMI.”

In spite of this obvious provision which allows telcos to keep 20% of interests on mobile money floats sitting with the banks and pay out 80% to their customers, the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB) says they would rather pay 100% of interests directly to customers and not allow the telcos to keep the 20% stated in the guidelines.

The guidelines also stated they the banks should set separate accounts and pay all interests from the mobile money floats into it so that telcos can go into that account as and when they want to pay interests to their customers, but this, the banks have not done either.

Majority of banks in the country who understand the mobile money business are said to be willing to follow the provisions of the guidelines, but on the basis of the informed complaints of a few banks, the GAB has instructed all banks not to do what the guidelines said.

Chief Executive of the Chamber, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo told Adom News there is no justification for banks insisting on paying out 100% of interests to customers directly when the guideline is saying something else.

“The banks, telcos, Bank of Ghana and other stakeholders drafted the guidelines together before it was passed as law so it is a betrayal of trust for the banks to now turn around and insist on doing something different from what the guideline says,” he said.

He said the telcos expect the Central Bank to insist on all parties upholding the provisions of the guidelines in the interest of the customers, who have, till date, been waiting for their interest but telcos have not been able to pay because the banks are in violation of the guidelines.

Adom a News gathered that many banks in the country are willing and ready to live by the provisions of the guidelines but for the directive of GAB based on complaints by two banks in particular.

Reliable information from those two banks also indicate that their mobile money platform managers are willing to live by the guidelines because they understand the industry but the CEOs of those banks are the ones fighting the whole process.

Kwaku Sakyi-Addo thinks the posture of the banks threatens the financial inclusion drive that informed the drafting of the new guidelines in the first place.

He noted that for years banks have held the cash floats from the mobile platforms but have not paid interest to customers, and not that the guidelines require them to do so and also provides how it should be done, some banks are resisting it.

Kwaku Sakyi-Addo is therefore calling on the Bank of Ghana to intervene and ensure the banks do the right thing.

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