Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor MJ Aloysius Tarlue, Jr., said financial digitization, which includes mobile money services, is a key priority in the Bank’s three-year strategic plan (2021 -2023) and the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, noting that printing money is not the only solution to facilitate payments in the economy, but that digitization is the way forward.
In his opening statement at a forum held at the CBL Auditorium to discuss how to improve digital payments, Executive Governor Tarlue said that while the Liberian dollar is strengthening, this is not reflected in reduced prices. “All of this could be solved with an increase in digital financial services,” said the executive governor of the CBL.
Comptroller General Janga Kowo, Home Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf and Liberian Revenue Authority Commissioner General Thomas Nah Doe also made remarks during the forum. They welcomed the initiative and pledged the support of their respective institutions for its success.
Also speaking at the Forum, World Bank Country Director Mr. Khwima Nthara said the national electronic payment system is the key platform to reduce transaction costs, but that while it is important As financial digitization is accelerated, it must be done in such a way that it does not create a digital divide between the poor and the better-off, but at the same time promotes financial inclusion.
UNDP Resident Representative Stephen A. Rodriquez, for his part, argued that the acceleration of digital financial services could be a ‘game changer’ for Liberia, saying that the future is digital and that The fastest growing companies are those involved in technology, insurance, and health care. He said the world is currently heading towards a fourth industrial revolution. “It’s not just about implementing the national electronic payment system, but also bringing Liberia into the digital space, while fostering innovation, reducing costs and reducing time for citizens of doing business, âthe UNDP official noted, noting that electronic payment systems such as mobile money have the potential to create transparency, reduce corruption and promote financial inclusion. Both UNDP and the World Bank have said they are happy to support CBL’s financial digitization efforts.
Mr. John BS Davis, President of the Liberia Bankers Association, expressed his gratitude to the CBL for this initiative, aimed at expanding the use of digital financial services, thereby creating real-time access to finance. He further assured the forum that commercial banks are ready and will fully support the process.
The National Payment Systems Stakeholder Forum was organized on October 27, 2021 by the CBL, under the theme: âOn the Road to a Simplified Cash Across the Country Programâ.
Other participants included Director General LIBTELCO, Acting Director General of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA); representatives of financial and non-bank institutions providing digital financial services.
As stated in its strategic plan and financial inclusion strategy, financial digitization is one of the key objectives of the CBL. Therefore, the Bank, with the support of key partners, is working to upgrade the National Electronic Payment Switch (NEPS), which will provide the interoperability platform and drive instant retail payments, thereby enabling quickly track the impact of financial digitization on the lives of ordinary Liberians, promoting financial inclusion and economic efficiency. Here are some of the main benefits of an improved and well-functioning national payments system:
– Introduce more cash into the banking system, as people would not need cash to pay for goods and services, but could instead use electronic means of payment in a safer and more convenient form;
– It will help retain more liquidity in the banking system to finance the private sector and boost economic growth;
– It will reduce our dependence on physical cash transactions and the pressure for money, especially during the holiday season, as we have constantly experienced in the recent past;
– It will improve the management of currencies by the CBL by reducing the frequency of printing of additional banknotes, which have significant costs. These resources can be redeployed in the productive sector of the economy;
– It will help improve the efficiency of public finance management by ensuring that public resources are properly accounted for, among other benefits; and
– More fundamentally, it will help improve the CBL’s monetary policy operations by supporting liquidity management and promoting financial stability.