The Bank of Ghana has issued a strong warning to banks and specialized deposit-taking institutions to ensure fairness and transparency in the delivery of information via digital platforms.
This new directive is contained in the Disclosure and Transparency Guidelines for digital financial services and products provided by these parties.
The proliferation of mobile devices and access to technology has created a viable environment for the development and creation of services based on these devices and technological platforms.
These new directives from the Bank of Ghana aim at providing the minimum disclosure and transparency framework to guide providers of Digital Financial Services and Products.
This is being done to protect Consumers who use these digital financial services by ensuring that institutions that provide these services, do so in a transparent and fair manner by disclosing to the customers and prospective customers, all the information that is necessary to enable the consumer to make informed decisions about the product.
According to the Disclosure and Transparency Directives for Digital Financial Services and Products provided by Banks, Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions and Non-Bank Financial Institutions 2022, digital service providers must ensure that all Materials provided to consumers, are clear, complete, accurate, understandable and not misleading regardless of the delivery channels.
Also, providers must not misrepresent the nature of digital financial services or products and must disclose the associated risks relating to Digital Financial Services as prominently as the benefits.
In terms of receipt of automated advertisements, consumers must be presented with the option to accept or decline the receipt of automated advertisements and promotional information.
Subject to the express consent of the consumer, a Provider may send automated advertisement and promotional information, through short messaging services (SMS), electronic mails, automated calls or any other means to a consumer.
Promotional materials shall not generally use terminologies such as “free”, “zero cost”, or similar words or phrases, if there exist associated costs to the product or service. Furthermore, banks and specialized deposit taking institutions must ensure that delivery channels for Digital Financial Services do not expose consumers to undue risk of scams and fraud.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank says it may impose on banks or Specialized Deposit-Taking Institutions, an administrative sanction of not more than 10,000 penalty units for the breach of the new guidelines.
The Central Bank insists that in the case of continuous breach, an additional penalty of not more 50 penalty units shall be imposed for each day the breach continues.
(By Ellen Dapaah)