Ghana CBDC is Proof Positive that Fintech Innovation Initiatives Produce Results

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People walk past the Bank of Ghana in Accra, Ghana. Photo by: REUTERS / Zohra Bensemra

Earlier this month, after Governor Ernest Addison announced that Ghana’s central bank is in the advanced stages of introducing a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), few news outlets focused on the preparation that brought the small African nation to the forefront of the race for a digital currency. It is notable that, earlier this year, the country’s central bank contracted with a digital transformation consortium to launch a fintech sandbox.

“For world leaders trying to figure out how Ghana got out ahead of them in the race for a CBDC, it’s important to look at the timeline. Today, the country claims to be looking towards beta testing. But, four months ago, they made a bold move to invest in a fintech sandbox,” said Richard Gardner, CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and digital asset exchanges. “There are lots of different names for it — a sandbox, a consortium, an incubator — how they’re built and what they focus on may shift, depending on local priorities. But, the fact is that investment into building a culture of technological innovation — that’s something that can’t be overlooked when we’re discussing what went right in Ghana.”

According to a press release, the joint initiative aimed to promote “innovative solutions, including blockchain, while accelerating their time to market. This approach promotes new products and services, bridging the gap for unbanked and underbanked, and creates new pathways for the efficient and secure movement of money for individuals and organizations.” The Bank of Ghana made the sandbox available to banks, payment service providers, and other entrepreneurs and institutions with interest.

“I’ve always been bullish on Ghana as a hub for financial technologies within the African continent. I’ve been writing about it for years. They have so many of the pieces required to build something special. The infrastructure is advanced in comparison to many of their regional peers. The excitement is there. It is a place where innovation should be able to flourish,” opined Gardner.

Modulus is known throughout the financial technology segment as a leader in the development of ultra-high frequency trading systems and blockchain technologies. Over the past twenty years, the company has built technology for the world’s most notable exchanges, with a client list which includes NASA, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago.

“Ghana really reminds me of an emerging Estonia. They’re making similar moves, albeit several decades later than the Eastern European nation, but just look how Estonia has flourished after making the commitment to lean into technology and innovation. And, right now, we’re on the cusp of a new financial future. CBDCs are the future of finance. There is no question about it. And Ghana is in an excellent position to take advantage of that and truly build a very strong fintech sector. This isn’t a flash in the pan. We already have banks and MNCs working with us to prepare their technology infrastructure for a future which includes central bank digital currencies. They wouldn’t be doing that if it were simply a financial fad,” Gardner opined.

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