The Central Bank of Ghana said inclusiveness would be a major factor for its upcoming digital currency, the eCedi, and will attempt to bring the currency to citizens without a bank account, or even internet access. In a design paper released on Tuesday, the bank proposed the use of hardware wallets and other devices for use with the eCedi.

Ghana’s central bank outlined the key aspects of its plans for a retail, token-based central bank digital currency (CBDC). Mainstreaming digital payments is expected to help formalize the African economy, the bank said.  To this extent, it will make adoption of the eCedi as seamless as possible.

Ghana central bank eyes hardware wallets, smart cards

The central bank proposed the issuance of offline wallet devices, or even smart cards to bring unbanked individuals under the eCedi system. According to data from Statista, about 43% of Ghana’s population still does not have access to a bank account.

The plans for an offline wallet also factor into the eCedi’s offline functionality, which is intended for rural areas with limited internet access. According to a 2019 study by the World Bank, 53% of Ghanaians were using the internet. The central bank proposed offline wallet devices, smart cards, and even smart wristbands to facilitate offline peer-to-peer transactions.

But the bank did not outline how this would be achieved.

The bank said a smartphone with a banking app would be the ideal way to use the eCedi. Mobile and card-based payments are the most common methods of transacting in the country, and the eCedi will complement existing digital payment networks. According to the central bank, the total value of mobile money transactions had surged by 82% between 2019 to 2020.

Move comes amid growing interest in CBDCs

Ghana had unveiled plans for the eCedi in 2021, as it looked to the digitization of its economy to promote growth and reduce corruption. The system is being developed with German payments firm Giesecke+Devrient. The move also comes on the back of improving economic growth in Africa’s largest gold producer.

Several developed and developing economies have announced forays in CBDCs, given their potential use in local and international transactions.  According to the Atlantic Council, more than 10 other African nations are also looking at developing CBDCs.

The United States recently said it was looking into developing a digital dollar, after China launched its digital yuan earlier this year.


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