There is no denying that many of the world’s developing economies are rarely highlighted as innovation hubs. But with technology advancing the way consumers and companies handle money, experts are beginning to envision ways many of these emerging markets can uniquely benefit and foster payments innovation.
In this week’s B2B Global Spotlight, PYMNTS takes a look at Ghana — admittedly, not the first nation that comes to mind when one imagines the latest trends in payments tech.
But a slew of new research has been released in recent months that highlights Ghana as one of the world’s first economies to successfully implement mobile payments at the very beginning of the supply chain. How? Read on to find out.
Mobile Payments: An Unlikely Hero
As the developed world began inventing sophisticated ways for consumers and businesses to pay for the goods and services they need, industry experts realized how many of these inventions can benefit the developing world. One of the biggest examples of this phenomenon is mobile payments. The plummeting cost of a mobile smartphone, coupled with the scarcity of traditional banking institutions in many emerging economies, means mobile payments can provide banking services to the otherwise unbanked.
Ghana is one such nation where mobile payments have gained noteworthy levels of traction in recent years. In the year’s second quarter alone, the nation saw the likes of Airtel, Verifone and even fast food giant KFC embracing mobile payments in the country. To many, these financial services are crucial — according to the nation’s Minister for Communications Haruna Iddrisu, about 80 percent of the nation’s population is either underbanked or unbanked.
The government has been key to promoting the use of mobile financial services in Ghana. But more recently, the nation’s food suppliers have shown how mobile payments in the B2B world can pull Ghana up into a more level playing field on the global supply chain.
Financial Security For Ghana’s Suppliers
A slew of new ventures initiated by both corporations and the government have placed mobile payments capabilities at the hands of small, local farmers, allowing these independent suppliers to get paid more easily and securely from their corporate buyers.
Last month, for example, the nation launched the Cocoa Sika Payment Platform, an electronic payment system just for the nation’s cocoa farmers. Telecommunications conglomerates Vodafone and MTN are reportedly at the helm of the platform, with cooperation from the Bank of Ghana. According to the bank’s Chief Manager Gladys Awuku, the new platform will ensure the security of payments to Ghana’s cocoa farmers, which have otherwise depended on large, all-cash transactions.
Samuel Anane, who serves as president of the Progressive Licensed Cocoa Buyers Association, commended the effort. “Cocoa Sika Payment Platform will reduce reported cases of robbery of farmers as well as purchasing clerks,” he said, according to reports in Modern Ghana. He added that the venture will propel farmers into the modern payments system and encourage corporate buyers to more quickly pay their cocoa suppliers.
Separately, a new strategic alliance has launched the Rice Mobile Finance initiative, known as RiMFin, which lands mobile payments capabilities in the hands of local rice farmers with services from Tigo Cash, one of the nation’s top mobile carriers.
According to Agribusiness Systems International, which colaunched the initiative, the venture boosted investment in local rice farming operations “by providing a cheaper, more efficient, traceable and transparent payment method.” The program reached an estimated 10,000 farmers, more than half of whom are women, ASI said.
A Global Model
The success of Ghana’s efforts to provide mobile FinServ capabilities to local agricultural suppliers has the potential to act as a model for other jurisdictions. According to Lee H. Babcock, who serves as managing director of consulting firm LHB Associates, 1.5 billion small, independent farmers are still paid in cash by their corporate buyers across the globe.
“The number of farmers and the numerous transactions throughout the value chain mean the agriculture sector makes the strongest value proposition for private sector investment in rural areas,” Babcock wrote last week in Devex Impact. “Transitioning these farmers to receive mobile payments increases revenue for telecommunications companies and reduces cash handling costs and promotes other value chain efficiencies for commodities buyers while providing farmers with numerous benefits, including a ‘financial identity,’ safety, storage and convenience.”