The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, has assured the general public that monies kept in dormant mobile money accounts as well as that of deceased person are accessible to their next of kin without any difficulties.
He insists that monies saved in mobile money wallets were kept at universal banks to provide some form of guarantee for deposited funds.
In a statement released in Accra on Tuesday, February 25, 2020, Mr Ashigbey said the banks also help ensure that monies kept in electronic wallets were safe.
“This makes it impossible for anybody’s money to be abused at all’, he said.
Mr Ashigbey’s statement was in response to rumors going round on social media that mobile money service providers were withholding monies in dormant accounts and monies belonging to deceased customers.
Article 33 (4) of the Payment Systems and Services Act states that electronic money issuers are required to treat MoMo accounts which have not registered a transaction for 12 consecutive months as dormant accounts
Again, the operators are required to remind customers on the 11th month through an SMS of their accounts with them.
In line with this, if there is no transaction on the 12th month, the account will automatically be suspended and blocked.
This however, does not in any way mean that the balance of the account declared dormant is lost.
Therefore, the account is transferred along with identifying information to a separate account with any bank designated by the Bank of Ghana for a period not exceeding three years.
Consequently, Mr Ashigbey further explained that after a period of three years, the service provider shall transfer all the funds to the Bank of Ghana or an institution designated by the Bank of Ghana and retain all identifying information.
This action is taken when the holder of the account or the executors of the deceased person did not make a claim.
Next of kin
On the issue of next of kin, Mr Ashigbey explained that provisions were made for customers to identify their next of kin for future purposes, during the registration stage.
“At the registration of mobile money, one of the ‘know your customer’ (KYC) questions that our providers ask for is your next of kin”.
This is required by all of our members and even so, allow those who have not provided their next of kin to update their detail”, he explained.
He added that during the on-board system, customers were required to provide the name and contact number of their next of kin.
“Additionally, next of kin is not static and clients can update them as often as they desire to change who their next of kin is,” he said.
Procedure for claims
He further explained that when a customer dies, the family is required to provide a dead certificate to make a claim for access to their accounts.
“So, you would have to provide a copy of the will of the deceased. However, if the person died without a will, that is, died intestate, you have to provide letters of administration from the court and provide an ID of the executors of the estate of the deceased”, he said.
He added that “It is based on this that the MoMo operators after they have established the death of the clients, and the fact that you are the rightful executor of the estate, will make available the balance on the account for distribution to the rightful beneficiaries of the estate”.
This process, he further said, was not different from what pertains in traditional financial institutions.