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 over-indebtedness, implementing consumer protection training with providers, and partnering with regulators on grievance redress.
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 advisers 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 prioritise 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 learning 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 organisations 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.