The Bank of Ghana and the Monetary Authority of Singapore are working to create a Financial Trust Corridor (FTC), a dedicated ecosystem for mutual recognition and closer relationships between businesses, including SMEs, and financial institutions on the platform.
Dr Ernest Addison, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, who announced this on Wednesday, said the Trust Corridor would comprise a governance framework and digital infrastructure for banks and FinTech companies in both countries.
He said participants could refer to and utilise key information available on the platform for credit assessment, whilst adhering to domestic and international regulations, including data protection and Anti-Money Laundering requirements.
"Participating SMEs will have the trust of financial institutions, leading to the much needed financial sector support for SMEs growth," he said in an address at the opening session of Business Sans Borders (BSB) stakeholder engagement.
The BSB project is an initiative between the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Bank of Ghana (BOG) and the Ministry of Finance, which seeks to develop a network of digital platforms to serve as a global public infrastructure to facilitate cross-border trade.
The BSB project was initiated in 2019 under the direction of Dr Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia and H.E. Tharman Shanmugaratnam of Singapore to collaborate and leverage the capabilities of digital technology to expand the frontiers of businesses, especially Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana and Singapore.
In this direction, the Bank of Ghana signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Monetary Authority of Singapore to collaborate on projects of mutual interest in the furtherance of the BSB project objectives.
He said while the barriers to doing business across national boundaries may be high for SMEs, digital technology had proven a leveller.
It is for this reason that the partner countries have committed to harnessing the potential of digital technology to overcome hurdles to international trade and improve global competitiveness of businesses.
"With massive investment in financial sector infrastructure, a reliable and widespread telecommunication infrastructure, a biometric national ID of high coverage, a robust and resilient banking sector, and a vibrant Fintech ecosystem, the stage is set to facilitate Ghanaian SMEs effective participation in the global economy, via these initiatives.
Dr Addison said facilitating SMEs participation in the digital economy would enhance efficiency, extending market reach, and build their capacity to generate employment opportunities and boost economic growth.
In addition, the broad-based acceptance of digital payments by SMEs will scale up products and services deployment, and provide digital footprints for improved credit services by financial service providers.
These align with the BSB initiative which seeks to establish a digital-hub and connector of platforms of businesses in Asia and beyond to Ghanaian SMEs and financial institutions.
With the full implementation of the BSB initiative, Ghanaian SMEs will be able to access diversified trade opportunities as well as critical, quality ecosystem facilities such as finance, accounting, and business referrals with Singapore.
The BSB project also includes a global innovation hub to help FinTech companies develop additional innovative services and products.
In 2020, the Bank of Ghana took another bold step to address SMEs' access to digital merchant wallets with the creation of three-tier merchant account categories.
This enabling piece of policy has flexible and proportionate onboarding requirements that recognize the peculiarities of businesses within the SME category.
With this supportive policy regime, Banks, SDIs and Fintechs have been given a unique opportunity to on-board various types of SMEs for financial services.
The BSB project provides another important platform for this regional aspiration as the lessons to be learnt can be valuable to AfCFTA's project on the internationalization of SMEs.
Dr Addison said the BSB project had the potential to contribute to the formalisation of the Ghanaian economy.