Can Neobanks thrive in Ghana?

Would you choose a bank with no physical building but top-notch digital services at competitive rates? Must a bank have a brick-and-mortar premises to give you comfort?

Well, customers of Neobanks don’t seem to care much about Physical banking halls.

Neobanks are digital-only, fully functional banks. This means they operate online or mobile only financial services. They are banks, only without a traditional brick and mortar building or physical premises for banking. Some of the services Neobanks offer include checking and savings accounts, payments, money transfer services, loans, among other related services. They have some unique and mostly competitive banking services. For example, Lidya, a neobank headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria offers customers algorithm-based credit scores that eliminate the need for collaterals and help customers unlock better rates and capital when looking to get a loan. Such unique, technology-based products help to differentiate Neobanks’ offerings.

There are two main types of Neobanks; Full Stack Neobanks and Front End Focused Neobanks.

Full-stack neobanks are standalone banks with appropriate banking licenses to offer services end-to-end. An example of such is Durham-based Atom Bank.

Front-end focused neobanks are however, dependent on a legacy bank to funnel their services to the customers. They do not have banking licenses but rather manage the frontline customer experience and interface. Such Neobanks operate in conjunction with an existing Bank. London-based Revolut is an example.

A notable Neobank in neighbouring Nigeria is Kuda. Kuda promises its customers free debit cards, budgeting trackers to control spending, free transfers to other banks, remote blocking of missing cards, highly rewarding savings packages, among others. Neobanks can afford such benefits because they typically have lower overhead costs due to no physical branches, few to no ATM installations, and fewer staff. These aforementioned costs are usually huge expenses for traditional banks which in turn influence their pricing. With the relatively low overheads for Neobanks, they can afford to lower costs for customers, thereby attracting more users.

Another advantage of Neobanks is that they are heavily driven by technology and easily embrace technological advancements compared to traditional banks. Their products and customer experience are usually top-notch, helping business models to thrive. For instance, it is quite common to see plain and basic traditional banks’ online platforms whereas Neobanks invest in smarter User Interface and User experiences. These result in customer loyalty and customer stickiness. In addition, technology-based Budget tracking and financial management offerings from Neobanks also position them as more customer centric. This is because they come off as services that support customers to make prudent financial decisions.

Moreover, Neobanks have been known to have faster turnaround processes due to the increased use of technologies such as customer service chatbots equipped with Artificial Intelligence capabilities. Kuda Bank, for example, has excellent customer reviews on their speed to complaint resolution.

Currently, there is no Neobank in Ghana. The question however remains whether Neobanks can thrive with the increasing digital banking services being provided by traditional banks and the growing competition in the banking industry.Ghanaians are embracing technology and the benefits it offers in various fields. This is a good foundation for Neobanks to thrive.

As of January 2021, internet penetration in Ghana was 50%, meaning half of the population use the internet.  With relatively lower cost of banking with Neobanks, it is safe to assume that Ghanaians will be excited to use them. Afterall, everyone values a good deal such as great banking services at lower costs. Moreover, Neobank accounts are easy to set up. You can sign up without any physical paperwork. Who wouldn’t choose such convenience? Yet, the absence of a physical presence could be a great hindrance to adoption. Some customers will prefer an option to visit a bank branch in person, especially with complex transactions, which will be highly unlikely with Neobanks.

An almost non-existent human interaction, regardless of how robust the customer service tools are could be a great demerit for Neobanks’ in Ghana. Banking and financial matters thrive on trust and for some, knowing where to find you physically matters.

Secondly, being a customer of a Neobank requires a lot of comfort with technology and trends that come with it. For basic technology users, this can be a lot to ask. So with basic tech skills, customers may have a fairly good experience because of their limited ability to take full advantage of the top-notch technology offerings that characterize Neobank services. This means that even though Neobanks may have the best banking products, customers may not enjoy the value in its entirety.

Thirdly, the bigger banks who also have digital services and the financial resources can partner fintechs to roll out similar Neobank offerings to a tech savvy base. With their resources, they could give Neobanks very stiff competition. This can adversely affect the survival of Neobanks, especially when they are not dependent or backed by a bank. Neobanks differentiate themselves by offering distinctive packages of products and services, which aren’t widely available among traditional banks, but when traditional banks roll out similar services, it hinders existing customers from switching.

In a highly competitive Ghanaian banking sector, building a large customer base as a Neobank means convincing significant number of people to switch their accounts from other providers or tapping into the unbanked population. This is an arduous task even for existing, well-known traditional banks and can prove laborious for a niche service like Neobanks. To make significant inroads will require a lot of time and resources. Not impossible, neither a walk in the park.

In conclusion, the much cliched quote attributed to Bill Gates that ‘banking is necessary, banks are not’ could be a helpful leverage for Neobanks who venture the Ghanaian Market. This coupled with increasing spotlight and efforts to improve internet penetration, digitization and financial inclusion in Ghana makes the idea of Neobanks a welcome one. Should Neobanks get their products right, pricing competitive and customer service par excellence, Ghana could see good patronage for Neobanks if they start operating here. Afterall, it is said that ‘too much of a good thing can be wonderful.’

Nsano Staff Diaries: Up-Close With Linda Otoo

Linda Otoo is a woman of few words. She is calm, approachable, and assertive. Linda leads Nsano Ghana’s operations as Country Manager. This position is no mean feat, yet Linda carries it with modesty. With over 10 years’ experience in risk, compliance, information security, data protection, and quality assurance, Linda ensures that Nsano’s solutions as a financial technology firm meet international security standards.  

In this month’s Staff In Focus, we get to know more about her; her motivation, her plans, and some fun facts.

Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: A doctor. I remember pestering my dad for a customized stamp and eventually got one with Dr. Linda Allotey on it. I would stamp every paper I saw and attempt to scribble and sign it as my way of living out my dream.

Q: If you could master one highly valued skill in a day, what would that skill be?

A: Coding

Q: What motivates you?

A: 1. Leading my team to succeed

    2. Being a role model for my daughters

Q: What’s your favourite TV show?

A: New Amsterdam. Beyond being a fan of medical practice, this TV series is delightful, mind-opening and has key lessons on teamwork.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A: Still with Nsano, breaking boundaries and achieving bigger successes across Africa.

Q: What is your proudest career achievement?

A: Being Country Manager for Nsano.

Q: What runs through your mind at the end of each working week?

A: Having an issue-free weekend.

Q: What book are you currently reading?

A: The Goal

Q: How do you handle pressure?

A: Being calm and staying positive. I have learnt that reacting under pressure ends up being based on the emotions but once I stay calm, positive thoughts and rational solutions flow naturally.

Q: What’s the most courageous thing you have ever done?

A: Tracking and finding my stolen phone

Q: What are your thoughts on the future of FinTech in Ghana?

A: Exciting, challenging, and competitive times ahead. The growth ahead is enormous. 

Q: What do you love most about working at Nsano

A: The people. We are like a family and this makes work exciting.

Join us monthly for spotlight on Nsano’s people. Follow us on all our social media handles for exciting updates. 

Why Blockchain is gaining popularity

Since its conception, people have been fascinated by blockchain, an emerging trend in fintech. The purpose of blockchain was to enable digital data to be recorded and appropriated but not altered.

Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta, two researchers who aimed to develop a system where document timestamps could not be tampered with, initially proposed blockchain technology in 1991. Blockchain did not have its first real-world application until two decades later, with the launch of Bitcoin in January 2009.

Although blockchain may appear complicated at first glance, its underlying concept is simple. Blockchain is a specific type of database, and the way its data is structured differs significantly from a typical database. A typical database stores data in a particular way, for example, by using a table structure. Most databases use a relational data model, showing that all the information is stored in relation to each other and accessible using keys.

In blockchain, each block stores data in a unique way, which makes the system very secure and reliable. There is no linkage between blocks and records in blockchain because there is no need for that. The main idea behind blockchain – unlike databases – is that no central authority controls the database. Instead, all members of the network have an equal say in managing it. This allows for flexibility and transparency, as any client can check the contents of a transaction or database item without relying on a central authority. To do this, only one entity must be replicated on each machine in the network – the blockchain itself.

To understand blockchain, it is necessary to first understand its storage structure. Blockchain differs from typical databases in the way it saves data. It stores data in blocks that are linked together. As new information is received, it is entered into a new block. Once the block has been filled with data, it is linked onto the earlier block, resulting in a chronological chain of data. When a block is filled, it becomes a permanent part of the timeline. When a block is added to the chain, it is given a precise timestamp. Any change to a single block in a chain would be immediately obvious. Hackers would have to modify every block in the chain across all distributed copies if they wanted to destroy a blockchain system.

With the recent emergence of cryptocurrencies which are built on blockchain like Bitcoin and Ethereum, new blocks are constantly being added to the chain, greatly increasing the ledger’s security. Bitcoin depends on blockchain technology as a mechanism of recording payments in a transparent manner. Bitcoin was developed in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, a designer who built the digital currency, as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system which does not require third party intermediaries. It runs as a decentralized, transparent, secure and distributed electronic cash system where the history of every transaction done is made public and can be viewed by anyone at any time. The Bitcoin ledger is collectively kept by a network of participants [nodes] spread across the globe. All nodes in the network keep track of all successful transactions and update their copies of the ledger accordingly.

A South African-based marketplace known as Sun Exchange allows individuals to invest in solar energy projects in South Africa using Bitcoin. Anyone with Bitcoin can buy solar energy systems, and lease them to schools, communities, businesses, and government facilities. This allows investors to earn rental income, while supplying clean energy to local communities in areas which have a critical need for energy infrastructure. It primarily focuses on South African solar projects but is expanding to other African countries like Kenya.

African fintech startups have made noteworthy progress in changing the landscape of the blockchain industry. Tari, an innovative South African blockchain startup launched in 2018 has a goal to integrate payment solutions across Africa. They are also in the game of supporting local African blockchain startups through a free blockchain university to spread blockchain knowledge across Africa.

Blockchain has potential applications beyond Bitcoin. Blockchain is an immensely powerful technology that can revolutionize multiple industries. It enables users to store information and share that information with others without the need for a trusted third party to ensure security. This means that all data is maintained privately, which provides users with complete privacy in their transactions.

Blockchain also has applications in finance, healthcare, energy, and other fields where trust and security are important. One good example is the use of blockchain to vote in democratic elections. The nature of blockchain’s immutability means that fraudulent voting would become far more difficult to occur. Here, a citizen is issued a single cryptocurrency or token under a voting system. Each candidate is then assigned a unique wallet address; hence voters would send their tokens or crypto to the address of the candidate they wish to support. Because blockchain is transparent and traceable, it eliminates the need for human vote counting and the ability of bad actors to interfere with physical votes.

Health care providers can leverage blockchain to keep their patients’ medical records securely. When a medical record is created and signed, it can be stored on the blockchain, giving patients confirmation and assurance that the record cannot be altered. For example, BurstIQ, a US based tech company creates big data blockchain contracts to help their patients and doctors transfer sensitive medical information securely. The smart contracts set up the parameters of what data can be shared and even displays details of personalized health plans for each patient. 

Propy is a global real estate marketplace which leverages blockchain to create a decentralized title registry system and even sells properties that can be bought using cryptocurrency.

Launched in 2015 by Cellulant, Agrikore is a blockchain-based system for intelligent subcontracting, payment, and marketspace that allows all stakeholders in agriculture (farmers, consumers, product aggregators, insurance companies, financial institutions, and governments) to collaborate in a secure environment.

With many practical uses for the blockchain technology being implemented and explored, blockchain has the potential to make businesses and even government operations more precise, efficient, secure, and cost-effective by eliminating the need for intermediaries and giving comfort to its users.

Nsano Staff In Focus: Up-Close With Dorothy Teye

The ever-resourceful Dorothy Teye is our Head, Human Capital and Administration. Dorothy’s energy and constant need to get staff motivated easily earns her the title of Nsano’s Chief Happiness Officer.

Over the years, Dorothy has championed some great employee relations and engagement causes that have helped shape Nsano’s people strategy.

Let’s spotlight Dorothy and get to know more about her.

Q: Which 3 adjectives best describe you?

A: Personable, Ethical and Energetic

Q: What is the most interesting thing we will find on your resumé?

A: I have a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Accounting. On my way to becoming an Economist

Q: Which 2 Human Resource trends do you find exciting and why?

A: Introduction of AI in HR technology- right from recruitment to employee engagement and development. This will accelerate employee training and skill development as well as identify potential causes for turnovers.

People Analytics- provides data-driven insights to aid in better hiring decisions, effective performance management, etc. This will drive value for organizations and optimize processes based on data.

Q: Knowing Nsano is big on knowledge acquisition and sharing, what book are you currently reading?

A: “The Goal: A process of Ongoing Improvement” by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

A: Ɔbra nye woara abɔ (Life is what you make it)

Q: What is your proudest career achievement?

A: In my quest to becoming a global professional in HR, I recently got certified by Society of Human Resource Management as a Certified Professional in Human Resource Management. 

Q: How do you stay motivated?

A: Prayer. Whenever I am overwhelmed, or losing my drive, I take time out to pray. Prayer always brings back the positivity and energy I need to forge ahead.

Q: Which one App on your phone can you not live without?

A:  WhatsApp

Q: If you were to relocate from Ghana, which country would you live in?

A: Switzerland

Q: Aside home, work, church, where are we likely to find you?

A: These are the only places to find me. ?

Q: What do you love most about working at Nsano?

A: The leadership. I am challenged to give off my best and the growth through the challenges has been phenomenal.

Join us monthly for more interesting spotlights on Nsano’s people. Follow us on all our social media handles for exciting updates. 

An Industry on the Rise

Financial Technology services have become essential for today’s highly connected consumers.

Over the years, Ghanaian Fintech companies have become a gateway to access digital financial services by providing inexpensive and more accessible financial solutions for Ghanaians.

The fintech industry has fostered financial inclusion and progressed in the direction of a cash-lite economy, driven by digital products and services. There has been a significant level of growth over the past years in response to emerging trends and technologies like Insurtech, Blockchain Technology, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. Leveraging these technologies, Fintech companies are also partnering with financial institutions to make digital financial services convenient and accessible. This has seen the rise in Banking Application and USSD codes for banking purposes. GCB Bank through its e-money service called G-money has made financial services convenient, accessible and available via USSD, App, and a QR Code.

To further redefine the delivery of financial services, Nsano created a technologically-driven, user-centric solution called Move Secure, a Mobile Money escrow service, to curb the growing mistrust and online scams within the e-commerce space.

On the regulatory front, the Central Bank has demonstrated its support for the Fintech industry with the launch of a new FinTech and Innovation Office in May 2020, to drive the Bank’s cash-lite, e-payments, and digitization agenda.   

In February 2021, The Bank of Ghana also launched a regulatory and innovation sandbox pilot; a regulatory environment that enables firms like banks, specialized deposit-taking institutions and payment service providers to test innovative products, services and business models to assess their usefulness and viability in the market.

The Central Bank further cemented their support by for Financial Technology with its recent announcement to introduce the e-cedi, a state-backed digital currency, making it one of the first Central Banks to enhance digital financial services in Africa.

For a majority of Ghana’s population, digital technology has become the driving force for financial services. With these technologies and trends, the Fintech industry has more room to grow and innovate to provide the digitization that the world has acknowledged as the way forward.

Nsano announces Insurance Benefits for Remittance Recipients

To mark International Day of Family Remittances, Nsano Limited through its Instant Credit Service, has announced an exciting package for all beneficiaries of remittances through Nsano’s partner MTOs.

The package, which was launched on 16th June 2021, rewards beneficiaries with a free Life & Hospital Insurance cover, valid for 30 days.

This gesture is part of the company’s commitment to increase financial inclusion and optimize value for all its existing and incoming remittance partners.

Nsano is by this announcement encouraging MTOs and migrants to increase remittances to Ghana.

Speaking on the launch, Mrs Linda Otoo, Country Manager for Nsano said, “Nsano is constantly developing propositions to improve financial inclusion. It is for this reason that this insurance package for our remittance beneficiaries has been launched.”

For further information, kindly email or call +233-302- 909018 or +233-559-689972.

Nsano Staff In Focus: Up-Close With Christian Glouin

Christian Glouin is Nsano’s Chief Technology Officer and proudly one of our longest-serving people. His knack to execute ‘crazy’ ideas make his doors one of the most knocked on at Nsano.

Over the years; Christian has been an integral cog in Nsano’s growth and success. He has experienced both the turbulent and smooth days and has sailed all oceans of our journey with us. In the first episode of Nsano’s Staff In Focus, we get up-close to know more about Christian.

Q: Are you a brush before shower person or a shower before brush person?  

Christian: Brush before shower of course.

Q: Do you have any special routines you do every morning?  

Christian: I listen to the news and anything that would make me learn something new.  

Q:Briefly describe your first day at Nsano?  

Christian:I had a conversation in my mind. Told myself, I would make the business 1 million USD in one year.  

Q: Comparing your first day to now. How is the feeling like?

Christian: More conversations in my head asking myself: what am I doing?  

Q: What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?  

Christian: Building Fusion  

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?  

Christian:I would learn Accounting, Finance, and specialize in taxation  

Q: Let us talk Tech. Describe the most groundbreaking project you have worked on and why?  

Christian:Certainly, the creation of Fusion Bank client v2. We laid down the foundation for a fully decentralized system.  

Q: How does the typical weekend for you look like?  

Christian: Mostlyresearch/reading on Saturday morning. Relaxation in the afternoon. Church on Sunday morning. Then I read and plan for the week in the afternoon.  

Q: Let the cat out of the bag. Share your winning secret?  

Christian: Never stopped learning.  

Q: Closing words. Delete one of the following: Food, music, sports, movies.  


Join us monthly for more interesting spotlights on Nsano’s people. Follow us on all our social media handles for exciting updates.  

Tech For Good: How Move Secure is Curbing Mobile Money Fraud

In response to the growing menace of mistrust and scams within the online commerce space, a new Mobile Money escrow service called Move Secure has been launched to facilitate safe and secure transactions on Mobile Money.

The service operates by holding money in trust till both vendor and buyer confirm their satisfaction with a transaction. This is a much-needed solution to restore the declining levels of trust between online buyers and vendors resulting from increased cases of scam.

For buyers, Move Secure ensures that even though you have initiated payment for a service, you can get your money back seamlessly in the event of an attempted scam or if the wrong/inferior order is delivered. It also shows a commitment to your vendor to prioritize your order.

For vendors, the service shows a payment has been made before you make a delivery, eliminating the potential of wasting time or money to transport orders to customers who don’t show up.

Both parties can raise disputes within the Move App or via the USSD code (*718*8#) in an event where one party is dissatisfied with the exchange.

“We believe in using technology to solve everyday problems. With the increasing rate of mistrust in online payments and trade, we came up with this escrow service on Mobile Money to give both buyers and sellers comfort in the exchange process. To this end, we believe will also eliminate fraud and scams in online commerce for our Move Secure users.” Mrs. Linda Otoo, Country Manager for Nsano commented about the service.

To use Move Secure, simply dial *718# and choose option 2. Subsequently, you may also download the Move GH app on Appstore or Play Store.

Nsano Receives Payment Service Provider (Enhanced) License.

The Bank of Ghana has awarded the first ever Payment Service Provider (Enhanced) License to one of the nation’s foremost financial technology companies, Nsano Limited.

As part of efforts to foster soundness in the financial services sector, the Ghanaian Central Bank has tightened its controls of the country’s financial ecosystem; consolidating and formalizing its oversight of financial technology companies in order to promote innovation and growth, without jeopardizing the safety, security, and stability, of the financial services sector. The Payment Systems & Services Act 2019 (Act 987), provides the legal and regulatory framework for the orderly development of Ghana’s payment system and grants the Bank of Ghana the mandate to duly license and supervise financial technology companies operating within the country.

Nsano Limited, a diversified financial technology solutions provider which currently maintains its focus on building custom mobile financial service applications for banks and insurance companies, providing merchant payment solutions, offering remittance services, and playing the role of an aggregator in connecting various entities to the nation’s mobile money operators, is the first to have been granted the Bank of Ghana Payment Service Provider (Enhanced) License.

The license, among other things, supports the provision of services including electronic funds transfer, facilitation of interoperability of payment systems and services, payment system aggregation, provision of electronic platforms for payment or receipt of funds, and the provision of technological services to facilitate switching, routing, clearing and data management. Obtaining the license buttresses Nsano’s position as a progressive industry leader, and a formidable technology partner of financial institutions, merchants, digital solution providers, remittance companies and other fintechs aiming to be guided to obtain a PSP (Standard) License.

Following its establishment in Ghana some years ago, Nsano launched operations in other markets across Africa including Zambia, Uganda and Cote d’Ivoire, in a steady attempt of realizing its vision of processing 50% of Africa’s GDP by 2025.

The PSP license which follows closely after the company’s ISO 27001:2013 certification, the unveiling of its state-of-the-art Fraud Centre, and the award of the Remittance Grant Facility, is indicative of the company’s commitment and adherence to international best practices and world class standards in ensuring customer protection and satisfaction, inhibiting fraud, as well as contributing its quota to promoting digitization, financial inclusion, and inclusive sustainable economic development.

Whilst expressing excitement at the award of the license, Mr. Kofi Owusu-Nhyira, a director of the company, indicated that it was a privilege to serve the country, particularly in such times when the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the true essence of digital financial services. He also took the chance to pledge the company’s commitment to playing its part in innovating and adapting in response to the country’s financial technology service needs during these unusual times, and to support the Bank of Ghana in leveraging digital channels to minimize risks and operational disruptions to both customers and providers of financial services.

Payment Ecosystem: How Account to Wallet Transactions Really Work

Today, most African’s have bank apps (either USSD/Android/Mobile Apps) that are used for financial transactions. These apps save time and reduce bank queues. Whether you are using a USSD or Mobile App, a number of invisible technological processes take place before your transactions are finally processed and your payments go through.

Most banks in Africa work with FinTech platforms to enable you perform transactions from your Bank Account to your mobile wallet. FinTechs like Nsano are the hidden players that sit in the middle of these transactions ensuring that payments are smoothly done.

If you have ever wondered how your funds move from your bank account to your mobile wallet, this infographic reveals the science behind it all!

An Infographic detailing how Account to Wallet transactions work

Interested in building a mobile banking solution via USSD or Mobile app? We are present in 8 African countries. Email us: