Ernest Addison, Governor of the Bank of Ghana, announced the news at an annual banking conference on Tuesday, saying that the central bank is in discussion with “key stakeholders” to explore a digital currency pilot project “with the possibility of issuing an e-cedi in the near future.”
The effort is aimed at complementing the growth in electronic payment systems in Ghana, such as mobile money. Mobile money transaction volumes, for instance, increased to 1.4 billion last year as compared to 982 million in 2017, said Addison, adding:
“The digital age provides enormous potential for the financial sector to re-orient itself to satisfy the new consumer and business demands for financial services.”
The central bank governor also stated that their national digital currency will be different from the typical cryptocurrency by definition. He explained that the CBDC will be just a digital representation of the cedi stored in reserves and will not be a new form of currency based on DLT.
Africa has been seeing increased cryptocurrency interest as well. Just last month, peer-to-peer bitcoin trading platform Paxful said it added 800,000 wallets in the past 12 months, driven by growth in African countries – Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.
In fact, Ghana comes in at number five with Austria and Switzerland rounding out the top five in searching for Bitcoin. While surprising that these African nations are showing such interest, it cannot be deemed unexpected as the potential that blockchain and cryptocurrency has for African nations is immense.
Following the listing of Nigerian Naira on Binance Exchange, a Binance spokesperson said that Nigeria is “absolutely a promising market with great potential” with a population of nearly 200 million people.
Part of the potential that Bitcoin offers is its ability to be an option for those who find themselves unbanked. Due to the vast rural population in these countries, and the limited access to banks, many citizens miss out on the opportunity to use banking services. This is where Bitcoin can be a viable alternative.
The potential and possibility for cryptocurrency and blockchain advancement in Africa appears to be maturing and evolving. The likes of the UN has even published pieces on how the continent is ripe to be the next frontier for digital currencies, but with individual interest now also piquing, things could be ready for a big boost.
If the interest and education around Bitcoin and Blockchain can continue to grow at a similar rate to the advancements of the space in Africa, there is significant potential that several vital issues dogging these lower GDP countries can be addressed.
Last month, Nigeria’s Ministry of Communications got a name adjustment, to the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. The change of name was requested by the newly inaugurated minister, Dr Isa Pantami, who was at the Abuja Blockchain and Digital Assets Conference that held earlier this month at the Abuja Sheraton Hotel and Suites.
The move to get their own digital currency will help the proper regulation of blockchain/cryptocurrency in the country and put it on the list of nations open to technology advancement.