Why are Ghanaians so cash obsessed?
The world has evolved as far as technology goes and now money has evolved as well. Banks offer customers VISA and ATM cards, online banking, and there are a good number of options when it comes to payment platforms (M-Power, Slydepay, ExpressPay). But still, Ghanaians seem content with dealing with physical cash in hand.
In another part of the world, Sweden is on its way to being the first country to go completely cashless. What does that mean? 80% of transactions in Sweden are done with cashless options. Swedes pay for a majority of their stuff with debit cards and other cashless options. Even kids pay with with debit cards!
Other countries are steadily moving towards being cashless and it’s only a matter of time before physical cash starts to go the way of the dinosaurs.
Although I think we have a long way to go before we reach the levels of Sweden, what could be holding up the Ghanaian populace from doing their transactions with debit cards and other cashless options and ditching cash? I have a few theories:
No Swiping: Lack Of (Reliable) Point Of Sale Devices
I once walked into a store and tried to pay with my debit card. The response I got? Their machines was not working.
How true was this? I have no idea. So I had to go to the ATM to get cash out and pay.
But I have paid for items using my debit card before.
The thing is, most stores outside of places like mall centers don’t have the option to pay with a debit card. Cash seems to be the quickest way to get money from the customer.
I have a conspiracy theory about why vendors don’t use POS devices: High costs and transaction fees
I believe that vendors have to pay some transaction fees when they use POS devices especially since they get some of these devices from banks. But when it comes to cash, that’s no such thing. No fees, no hassle, so why use a POS device?
But that’s just my conspiracy theory.
No Advertising On Cashless Options?
Mobile money transactions in Ghana are exploding. Most people use Mobile Money to send money to friends and relatives. But what about purchasing items? With the exception of paying for bills and sending money, I don’t really see a lot of ads for purchasing stuff using mobile money.
There are some billboard ads for Slydepay but maybe TV ads would help push things a bit further.
Although I have seen a TV ad for GCB’s Litepay option*. It’s fantastic and shows the practical use of bank and VISA cards to pay for items in stores.
*(FYI GCB, you guys really need to put information online about your LitePay solution)
Maybe stores and vendors who have cashless payment options should tell their customers about alternative ways for paying for items.
The options are there but if the populace is unaware, how do they take advantage of them?
Banks, Do Something!
I already spoke about the issue of banks not doing a good job of spreading the gospel of cashless options and being stuck in the mud.
Some banks offer e-banking and VISA cards. Some banks have mobile apps which you can download from the appstores. But if you’re a new customer signing up at those banks, do they push their e-banking and mobile apps on customers or do they let them go off and let them figure it out for themselves? I know I wasn’t given a tutorial about my banking online account or mobile banking app.
Probably if more people got used to the use of going mobile and cashless when it came to their banks, they might let go of cash.
Welcome To Reality
Everytime I go to a bank and watch someone cashout and carry large amounts of cash in a bag, I can’t help but think why anyone want that large amounts of cash on their person. Honestly, I never feel comfortable carrying cash on me. I do realize that cash is what people are used to when buying for stuff.
Pure and simple, cashless payments just take the stress out of everything. As a young university student in the US, I hardly carried physical cash on me and my pockets thanked me for that. For every ten transactions I saw people engage in, eight(8) of those transactions involved credit and debit cards.
But that is reversed when it comes to Ghana with those eight transactions involving cash.
Maybe it’s just a waiting game. Maybe the technology isn’t as reliable as people want it to be. Maybe the banks and payment platforms need to push more advertising money into getting the world out.
Until we’re all buying tomatoes and fruits from the supermarkets with mobile money and debit cards, cash is still king.