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In Ghana, institutions involved in microfinance include: formal institutions (banks and non-bank financial institutions, including savings and loans companies); semi-formal institutions (credit unions and financial NGOs); and informal actors (Susu “savings” collectors and traditional moneylenders). The Bank of Ghana is the regulatory authority for formal institutions. Savings and loans companies and other non-bank financial institutions, previously subject to the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Act No. 774 of 1993, have migrated to the banking regime and are regulated under the Banking Act No. 673 of 2004, amended through 2007. In July 2011, the Bank of Ghana issued new Operating Rules and Guidelines for MFIs that cover the entire microfinance sector, including semi-formal and informal institutions that were previously unregulated. A new set of regulations are expected to follow that will also bring credit unions under the Bank of Ghana’s supervision rather than that of the Department of Cooperatives and the Credit Union Association.

In 2008, the Bank of Ghana issued the Guidelines for Branchless Banking authorizing deposit-taking institutions to offer financial services through non-bank agents. For mobile phone banking, only the many-to-many model is permissible; telecom operators and authorized financial institutions are expected to offer mobile banking services to the general public.

Additionally, Ghana is focusing attention on financial literacy and consumer protection efforts, although no consumer protection law currently exists. A National Strategy for Financial Literacy and Consumer Education in the Microfinance Sector was launched in January 2009 and hosted by Microfinance Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.



Microfinance & Banking

Consumer Protection

The Investigation and Consumer Reporting Office (ICRO) within the Banking Supervision Department (BSD) of the Bank of Ghana has the responsibility of protecting financial consumers in Ghana and educating them on their rights and responsibilities. The ICRO regulates both banks and non-bank financial institutions and receives customers'™ complaints, petitions and grievances for redress. It is mandated to investigate all forms of complaints and alleged irregularities between and among parties in the banking industry, including the microfinance sector.

In 2006, the Ghana Microfinance Policy recommended that MFI apex organizations be encouraged to develop and implement industry standards. In January 2009, Ghana approved a National Strategy for Financial Literacy and Consumer Education in the Microfinance Sector. The main objective of this strategy is to improve financial capability as well as to educate customers on their rights and responsibilities. In addition, a complaint center that specifically addresses the needs of consumers in the microfinance sector is planned to be created as part of this strategy. This proposed center would play the role of ombudsman for financial services.

Branchless Banking