The Smart Campaign, a global initiative to promote strong financial consumer protection for low-income clients, launches the #YouDeservetoKnow campaign in Ghana, a 13-week radio program aimed at educating and empowering Ghanaians to access financial services with confidence.
The launch was marked by a small kickoff event at the Accra City Hotel with financial inclusion leaders and representatives from the media.
Financial inclusion in Ghana continues to steadily advance as access to formal financial services has increased by 41% since 2010. With the goal of advancing financial inclusion and addressing consumer protection concerns in Ghana, the Smart Campaign has launched a radio series that will engage directly with clients, and help customers better understand their rights and responsibilities when accessing financial services. The series will feature drama episodes and expert interviews airing on Adom FM starting Thursday, February 28th and will be also be aired on Citi FM in April.
The Smart Campaign, housed at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, works globally to unite financial leaders in creating an environment in which financial services are delivered safely and responsibly to low-income customers. The Campaign maintains a rigorous certification program, conducts research to elevate the client’s voice, and convenes partners to effect change at the national level.
“Building a robust client protection ecosystem requires strong industry standards, an engaged regulator but perhaps most importantly, clients who understand their rights and responsibilities. When clients don’t know how to avoid fraud or don’t feel empowered to ask their provider questions or to complain when something goes wrong, they are more vulnerable to mistreatment,” said Alexandra Rizzi, a Senior Director at the Smart Campaign. “The series aims to equip clients with the knowledge they deserve to know to make the best financial decisions for themselves and their families.”
The Smart Campaign has been working with partners in Ghana since 2009, in activities such as conducting research on overindebtedness, implementing consumer protection training with providers, and partnering with regulators on grievance redressal.
This engagement has highlighted a number of consumer protection issues in Ghana, ranging from issues with fraud, over-indebtedness, and transparency present in both the microfinance industry and among digital financial (DFS) service providers. The Smart Campaign is working closely with the Financial Inclusion Forum of Africa in the implementation of #YouDeservetoKnow.
The project also has a distinguished panel of advisors including representatives from the Bank of Ghana, the Ministry of Finance, MTN and the Ghanaian Microfinance Network, among others.
“The Smart Campaign’s global expertise has helped identify and prioritize financial consumer protection issues for Ghanaian consumers,” said Dr William Derban Co-Founder/Chair of Financial Inclusion Forum Africa.
“Smart’s consultative approach has facilitated dialogue among leading institutions in Ghana, and the #YouDeservetoKnow campaign is an opportunity to pass on those learnings to consumers.”
Research conducted for the ITU found that 56 percent of mobile money users in Ghana have received a fraudulent or scam SMS and 12 percent of mobile money users have lost money to fraud or a scam. Overindebtedness also remains a client protection issue in Ghana with an over-saturated market, which is fueled by multiple borrowing at high interest rates and the low rate of credit bureaus utilization. Research shows that even literate clients report that they do not always understand pricing information, and high-interest rates are a serious concern for clients.
Measures in favour of consumer protection have already led to a number of constructive initiatives in the Ghanaian financial sector, however, there is more to do. The Bank of Ghana recently released guidelines for Transparency, “Disclosure & Product Transparency Rules for Credit Products and Services,” which specifies in details what financial service providers must do and what clients can expect from providers.
Clients have many rights, and the #YouDeservetoKnow campaign will help clients understand the requirements they agree to when accessing financial services and outline the practices that they should expect from providers.
Customers should be empowered to better uncover which organizations are potentially fraudulent, who to report fraud too, and what recourse they have if they lose their money in a fraudulent scheme. They should also be aware that they have the right to full information about pricing and interest rates.
Through the #YouDeservetoKnow radio campaign, the Smart Campaign aims to give Ghanaians an opportunity to ask questions, connect them to existing market resources, and create a space on social media to enable clients to discuss their experiences with financial services.
About the Smart Campaign
The Smart Campaign works globally to create an environment in which financial services are delivered safely and responsibly to low-income clients. As the world’s first financial consumer protection standard, the Campaign maintains a rigorous certification program, elevates the client’s voice, and convenes partners to effect change at the national level. Over 100 financial institutions, collectively serving more than 42 million people, have been certified for adhering to the Campaign’s industry-accepted consumer protection standards. It is housed at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion.
About the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion
The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) is an action-oriented think tank that engages and challenges the industry to better serve, protect and empower clients. We develop insights, advocate on behalf of clients and collaborate with stakeholders to achieve a comprehensive vision for financial inclusion. We are dedicated to enabling 3 billion people who are left out of – or poorly served by – the financial sector to improve their lives.
About the Financial Inclusion Forum of Africa
The Financial Inclusion Forum of Africa brings together people and organizations who are passionate to promote innovative solutions to financial inclusion across the continent. Financial Inclusion Forum Africa was formed to create a common voice for the Financial Inclusion sector in Africa. The forum constitutes a group of people who are passionate about FI and not necessarily working in the space. Members are driven by the passion for FI and do not represent their organizations but themselves.
The Forum lead the discussions of key issues around FI and present a communique for the development in the space. The key objective of the forum is to build knowledge and capacity in Financial Inclusion through networking, seminars and workshops.