The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 organised a one-day stakeholder engagement with members of the Ghana Association of Bankers. The programme was held at the office of the EOCO.
The Executive Director of EOCO, COP Frank Adu-Poku (Rtd.)
The stakeholder engagement was organised to deliberate on the emerging threats to the financial system (especially the new digital dimension), share experiences and adopt practices to mitigate these threats.
The Executive Director of EOCO, COP Frank Adu-Poku (Rtd.) in his welcome address stated the commitment of the Office to assist the banks proactively to combat emerging financial threats. He also added that currently, the financial sector is threatened with the advent of the virtual environment such as collateral fraud, hacking into databases of banks, identity fraud and block chain technology (Cryptocurrency). He further indicated that the programme was convened to deliberate on the way forward and how both institutions can collaborate to fight these crimes with a common front.
The Secretary of the Ghana Banking College Mr. Dan Opare expressed his gratitude for such an event and indicated the preparedness of bankers to work with EOCO in fighting banking fraud and prohibited cyber activities. He advised participants to share information with other financial institutions to forestall criminal activities.
The Secretary of the Ghana Banking College Mr. Dan Opare
Mr. Michael Nii Odartey Mills an officer of EOCO assigned to the IT Unit gave a presentation on the block chain technology (cryptocurrency). He explained that block chain technology is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transaction but virtually everything of value. A block chain is a simple yet ingenious way of passing information from A to B in a fully automated and safe manner.
Linking the presentation to the financial sector, Mr. Odartey Mills indicated that in the financialsector, the applications are more obvious and the revolutionary changes imminent. Blockchains will change the way stock exchanges work, loans are bundled, and insurances contracted. Block chain would eliminate bank accounts and practically all services offered by banks, he added.
He suggested that almost every financial institution may go bankrupt or be forced to change fundamentally, once the advantages of a safe ledger without transaction fees is widely understood and implemented. Mr. Odartey Mills spelt out the possible dangers if block chain technology is accepted. He further mentioned that bankers would become mere advisers, not gatekeepers of money. Stockbrokers will no longer be able to earn commissions and the buy/sell spread will disappear among others.
After the presentation, there were diverse opinions and concerns raised by the representatives of the various banks on the blockchain technology. There were calls for the Government to regulate the cryptocurrency trade in order for the country to benefit.
The Office used the opportunity to assure the bankers the capabilities of the Office to investigate transactions on the blockchain technology.
The stakeholder engagement was a follow-up to a similar one hosted by the Office in 2017.
Some of the financial institutions present were OmniBSIC, Stanbic Bank, Ecobank, First National Bank, Barclays Bank, Fidelity Bank, GT Bank, UBA, Universal Merchant Bank and ARB Apex Bank. Others were from the Financial Intelligence Centre, FBN Bank, Prudential Bank, CalBank, Consolidated Bank Ghana, Republic Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.