Ghana’s Cryptocurrency Legislative Landscape Prior to 2024

As the world of digital assets grows, Ghana’s approach towards the regulation of cryptocurrencies has been cautious yet forward-looking. Prior to 2024, Ghana’s financial authorities maintained a firm stance on the use of cryptocurrencies within its financial system, deeming it illegal. This directive, reinforced by the Minister of State at the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Ghana (BoG), prohibited all financial institutions, including banks, from engaging in cryptocurrency transactions. The underlying aim of this policy was to safeguard the financial system, protect investor interests, and mitigate risks associated with cryptocurrencies​​.

Despite the ban on cryptocurrency transactions, Ghana exhibited openness towards the underlying technologies such as blockchain. In 2021, the Bank of Ghana initiated a regulatory and innovation sandbox pilot. This sandbox was designed to test and supervise innovative financial products, services, and business models. It particularly emphasized blockchain technology, remittances, crowdfunding, e-KYC platforms, regulatory technology (RegTech), supervisory technology (SupTech), digital banking, women’s financial inclusion, and innovative payment solutions for MSMEs. This initiative marked Ghana’s commitment to explore the potential benefits of blockchain and related technologies, balancing innovation with regulatory oversight​​.

In 2022, the Bank of Ghana, in collaboration with EMTECH Solutions, further advanced its innovation agenda by launching another regulatory sandbox. This platform aimed to facilitate small-scale, live testing of financial innovations, inviting innovators to participate in its first cohort. This move reflected the country’s progressive attitude towards nurturing a conducive environment for financial technology experimentation​​.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Ghana also played a significant role in the regulation of the financial markets, including digital assets. In 2019, the SEC issued a warning about the use of crypto assets offered by unregistered and unlicensed entities on digital online trading platforms. It highlighted that popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum were not recognized as legal tender in Ghana, and the platforms for their trade were not under the SEC’s regulatory purview. This emphasized the risks involved and the lack of protection for individuals investing in these assets under Ghana’s securities law regime​​.

In conclusion, Ghana’s regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies prior to 2024 was characterized by a cautious yet explorative approach. While the use of cryptocurrencies in financial transactions was prohibited, the government and regulatory bodies actively pursued opportunities for innovation through regulatory sandboxes. This dual approach indicated Ghana’s commitment to balancing innovation with financial stability and investor protection. The country’s regulatory framework for crypto assets was still developing, and stakeholders were encouraged to stay informed about the evolving regulations in this rapidly changing sector​​.

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