Considering the numerous incidents of money theft by men of the underworld which have resulted in subsequent deaths of their victims, a cashless society seems to be a good chance of getting rid of this menace.
Mobile money, a form of electronic or digital money has been adopted in Cameroon and other African countries as the new means of money exchanges due to its portability and ease of use. Many mobile telecoms operators across Africa have tapped into this new and cheap form of money as a means of advancing towards a cashless society.
Mobile money services have been on the rise in the last two years in Cameroon that at the end of 2016, Cameroon had about 5.4 million mobile money subscribers with 2.6 million belonging to MTN Cameroon.
Cameroon’s top telcos, MTN Cameroon and Orange Cameroon as well as one of its international money transfer agencies Express Union, have exploited this avenue in a bid to ensure the safety of their clients.
A few months back, Express Union announced its plan to introduce EU Mobile, its mobile money platform to boost its market presence, reach more customers and increase the active usage of its digital services.
However, in a letter dated June 19, 2017, the Governor of the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), Abbas Mahamat Tolli, issued a ban on the “transfer of funds abroad in the framework of electronic money activities through their technical partners.”
In as much as the society has adopted this new approach in transferring and storing money securely, “mobile telephony operators may be, in reality, the true issuers of electronic money in charge of managing it and carry out international transfers. Such actions would be in serious violation of the spirit and letter of the rules regulating not only the electronic money issuing activity, but also the regulation on currency exchanges” according to BEAC Governor, Abbas Mahamat.
The ban particularly affects the South African subsidiary telecoms operator, MTN Cameroon. Inspired by the fierce competition in the mobile money market in Cameroon, MTN Cameroon in January 2017, launched a service enabling its mobile money subscribers to transfer money to 25 African countries.
Before the arrival of this unprecedented ban, mobile money users had the opportunity of sending money to 25 countries across Africa directly from their MTN Mobile Money accounts. The new service was valid for countries in the CEMAC zone made up of Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Chad but also grew to apply to some other 19 West African countries.
The ban of mobile money operations out of the CEMAC sub-region has given the telco giant, MTN Cameroon a serious blow to its expansion ambitions across Africa. Limiting MTN Cameroon’s mobile money base to the CEMAC zone means just one thing; revenue from their highly popularized platform will eventually drop.
BEAC regards the company’s international money transfer activities as illegal given that BEAC possesses the monopoly over the transfer and exchange of both physical and electronic money across the CEMAC zone of which Cameroon is a member.