skip to content

Ghana Card: All You Need to Know

Prepare for the July 1st deadline for accepting the new ID, the latest change in Ghana’s identity verification space.

Ghana is moving toward a wholly integrated identity system with the introduction of the Ghana Card. The card will underpin the identity linked to SIM cards, mobile money and bank accounts in a bid to easily verify activity and transactions. The Bank of Ghana has directed that all licensed and regulated financial institutions implement this change by July 1st, 2022.

Before we break down the changes underway, it’s important to note a crucial distinction. The Ghana Card is:

  • The common term for the ECOWAS Card
  • Issued by the National Identity Authority
  • NOT the same as the Ghana National ID, which is far less ubiquitous

It bears repeating: “Ghana Card” is different from the Ghana National ID Card.

National ID Card vs. Ghana Card

Spot the difference between the two cards below:

National Identity Card (not the Ghana Card)

This is the National Identity Card. It isn’t prevalent in the market, and the personal ID number, while having a similar syntax, is NOT the same as the Ghana Card.

Ghana Card (formally known as the ECOWAS Card)

True to its name, the ECOWAS Card – aka “Ghana Card” – transcends Ghana’s borders: it’s an all-in-one travel, residency, and employment permit for the ECOWAS common area, in addition to becoming the identity system in Ghana. It has been in circulation for a while without a chip, and the new Ghana Card that the government is pushing for has a chip, as displayed in the image.

What’s Coming

Now that we’ve established the difference between ID cards, let’s take a look at the changes underway in Ghana.

By July 1, 2022, Ghanaians will have to:

  • Sign up for the ECOWAS Card, aka “Ghana Card”
    • If Ghanaians have an old Ghana (ECOWAS) Card without a chip, they must still register for the new Ghana Card, which has a chip
  • (Re)enrol their SIM cards with the Ghana Card number
  • Inform their bank of their Ghana Card number; this will become an identifier banks require when authenticating their customers
  • Link their SSNIT number to their Ghana Card number; once linked, the Ghana Card number will become the SSNIT number

By March 31, 2022, the Ghana Revenue Authority will no longer recognize legacy Tax Identification Numbers (TIN); these will be replaced by… drumroll… the new Ghana Card number.

Why the Adoption Drive?

Mobile money is extremely popular in Ghana: mobile money transactions registered at $99 billion in 2020, far more than $29 billion associated with check and cash transactions.

With mobile money growth has come an increase in fraud. Lots of it. While exact figures are hard to pinpoint, MTN Momo, which leads in market share, as of 2020 blocked 400,000 scam messages daily and received an average of 365 daily complaints of fraud. In addition, anti-money laundering had several loopholes in law enforcement, Ghana having only recently been removed from the EU’s money laundering blacklist.

The Ghana Card is a response to fraud and financial crime: the Bank of Ghana hopes that by attributing one single traceable identity to individuals, the financial system as a whole will be rendered safer for Ghanaians.

What is the impact on business?

The first step businesses should take is a simple one: accept the new Ghana Card, with a chip, for verifying the identity of your customers. Smile Identity can verify the new Ghana Card for you through our Document Verification product. Learn more here.

The government is pushing hard for Ghana Card to be adopted fast, and its rollout has had several glitches, from registration to SIM-linking. Make sure that you offer alternatives, particularly before the July 1st deadline. Through Smile Identity, you can accept drivers licences, passports and the Voter ID . We also offer SSNIT, which you may want to continue offering until the deadline, with a callout to help your customers understand they should merge with the Ghana Card before time runs out.

Have more questions? We are here to help and are always happy to chat all things ID and KYC. Feel free to reach out anytime.