Mobile Money usage surges in Cameroon, outpacing traditional banking

Business in Cameroon | The use of mobile money services has “particularly increased” in Cameroon, rising from 29.9% in 2017 to 42.7% in 2022 for the population aged 15 years or older, according to the results of the 5th Cameroon Household Survey (Ecam 5) released on April 24 by the National Institute of Statistics (INS). These figures show a 12.8% increase in five years.

Although the INS has not explained the reasons for this increase, the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled many people to access mobile money services. As a reminder, one of the measures encouraged by the Cameroonian government to curb the spread of the virus was to limit contact with cash in financial transactions in favor of mobile money, as well as e-payment and mobile banking.

During the peak of the health crisis, Orange Cameroon and MTN Cameroon, the dominant players in the market (pending the launch of “Blue Money,” the mobile money service of Camtel, the state-owned telecom operator), increased discounts and waived fees for peer-to-peer money transfers and bill payments (especially for water and electricity) to promote electronic services. It is also worth noting that mobile money is increasingly accepted as a means of payment. For instance, taxes can now be paid, and social benefits received via mobile money.

According to the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), more than 96% of financial transactions (2.3 billion operations) in the Cemac region were carried out via mobile money, compared to only 2% of transactions (48.3 million operations) through traditional bank transfers and cards. Despite this breakthrough of mobile money, which contributes to improving financial inclusion by offering unbanked people the possibility of finally accessing formal financial services, the most significant transactions in value remain the preserve of traditional banks, according to BEAC.

“In terms of value, traditional transfers take the lead with 44% of transactions, totaling CFA48,573 billion, followed by instant transfers of electronic currency used in 21% of transactions (CFA23,332 billion). Transfers (across all categories) represent 65% of the value of all transactions in the zone,” the financial institution stated in its 2022 Report on Payment Services in CEMAC. Cameroon is the country where the majority of transactions are executed both in terms of number (71%, totaling 1.7 billion transactions) and value (55%, totaling CFA59,003 billion). The country is followed by Congo, which ranks second in terms of number (15%, totaling 364 million transactions), while Gabon ranks second in terms of value (15%, totaling CFA16,164 billion).

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