Universal Merchant Bank formulates banking products to support Bank of Ghana Sandbox Project

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Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) has announced its intention to develop specific banking products for start-up fintechs in the Bank of Ghana Sandbox Project.

UMB’s CEO, Nana Dwemoh Benneh, was speaking during the 2021 edition of the Ghana Economic Forum held in Accra.  He was speaking in a panel discussion themed ‘Contemporary approaches to financing start-ups’.

The Bank of Ghana in February 2021 announced that it was establishing a sandbox to facilitate innovation with a view to promoting Fintechs.  According to the Bank of Ghana, a Sandbox is a supportive and controlled policy environment that enables firms to test innovative products, services and business models under the supervision of a regulator.

Effectively, the regulatory and innovation sandbox will provide a forum for financial sector innovators to interact with the sector regulator to test digital financial service innovations while evolving an enabling regulatory environment. In this regard, the Bank and an innovator can assess the usefulness, viability and safety of innovations through a shared understanding of their respective interests.

Nana Benneh said “UMB’s analyses support the view that one of the most viable start-up ecosystems for the Ghanaian economy is in the technology/fintech arena,”

“The evidence from markets like Nigeria where start-ups like OPAY and Flutterwave have raised over US$200million in less than four years buttresses the point. In this regard, we think the Bank of Ghana’s Sandbox strategy is a game-changer and will incubate the ‘unicorns’ like Tik-Tok which will drive growth in this market.”

Answering follow -up questions on this point from the panel’s moderator, Shika Acolatse, Nana Benneh further noted that “Our intention is to be able to provide 360-degree support for these ventures.

“So, this includes both liabilities and assets support as well as a certain level of advisory support to access venture capital and international startup funds. We are happy to do this as a larger multi-bank policy initiative, but our medium-term strategy is clear and we are focused on being the bank for digital Ghana.”

Other members of the panel included Ashwin Ravichandran, Managing Director-MEST Africa; Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, CEO -Ghana Enterprises Agency; and Dr. Jerry Monfant, CEO-MBIC Group.

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