The 2016 Cameroon Remittance Market in Retrospect

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Remittance & Mobile Money


The 2016 Cameroon Remittance Market in Retrospect

The Cameroon remittance market in 2016 was marked by a considerable number of activities and innovations.

On the vertical scale, the market witnessed the opening of 35 new remittance agencies and above 2000 mobile money cash points, more than 5 new players, the sealing of 30 new partnerships, the registration of more than 1000 new mobile money subscribers and the launch of 5 new products.

Horizontally speaking, the market experienced the launch of 3 routine and 4 special promotions, the drop of transfer fees by 5% (by some operators), the provision of a flat transfer fee to remit up to 1 000 dollars from Canada to Cameroon, the integration of innovative digital solutions namely: mobile money debit cards, money transfer at ATM points and direct international remittances into mobile wallets.

The market in 2016 was marked by 5 major trends including:

Technological Innovations: Launch of direct international remittances into mobile wallets (WorldRemit & MTN Mobile Money), local and international A2A transfers at ATM points (Banque Atlantique ATMs) and fast & secure remittances using mobile money debit cards (Orange Money Debit Cards)

New Entrants: Two new international players (Wari & Squares Union) and the launch three new products (Dohone, Alliance Direct Cash and Money Cash)

Price Wars: Remittance at a flat rate (sending up to 1,000 dollars from Canada via Squares Union to Cameroon at a 5, 99 dollars) and transfer fee reduction (sending FCFA 0-5,000 within Cameroon for just FCFA 250 instead of FCFA 300 at Emi Money)

Big Deals: Sealing of more than 30 deals including: MTN Mobile Money & WorldRemit, Orange Money & VISA, Express Union & WorldRemit and MTN Mobile Money & Total, Tradex, Oilibya and MRS fuel stations, etc.

Tax Pressure and Market structure Disruption: The 2015 Finance Bill upping export tax on each external transfer by 33.33%, thus, causing the suspension of all outbound transfers of top international operators namely: Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria, Sigue and Money Express at most locations of their agents & sub-agents and also stimulating “black market” activities especially, on the Cameroon – Dubai and Cameroon – China and corridors.

Mindful of the mentioned market trends, Cameroon avails herself in 2017 as a potential niche for innovative digital solutions. She currently counts more than 6 million registered mobile money subscribers, close to 1.5 million active users and 4 digital solutions (ATM, mobile wallet, mobile debit card and website) supporting a wide array of remittance and diversified services. Consequently, the Telco operators are caving in on market shares and gradually absorbing the traditional operators by dominating their services with fast, secure, user-friendly and affordable digital ones.



WorldRemit Gradually Becomes the Choice Operator for the Cameroon Diaspora 

WorldRemit, one of the top international digital remittance giants, is becoming more and more popular for the Cameroon diaspora, particularly, for those based in North America and Europe. Today, WorldRemit counts thousands of transactions per month originating from special corridors such as the United States, the UK and France to Cameroon. Last December, WorldRemit registered 11 000 transactions from the diaspora to Cameroon

According to Catherine Wines, the Co-founder of WorldRemit, the most recent partnerships sealed between the digital giant and Express Union as well as MTN Mobile Money have given a tremendous boost its service consumption and also improved its customers’ experience. Thanks to Express Union’s solid market coverage (700 POS nationwide) and MTN Mobile Money’s growing popularity (2700 million subscribers and 400 active users), the Cameroon diaspora can easily and instantly send money to their loved ones back home with all assurance.

WorldRemit’s growing success in Cameroon further reiterates the dynamism of the Cameroon remittance market, particularly, the widespread adoption of the digital by customers and the increasing influence of innovative technology solutions on consumer habits.



Mobile Money on the Rise in Cameroon

Mobile money services in Cameroon have gone beyond the mere acts of sending money or purchasing airtime. In the last two years, the top operators in Cameroon (MTN Mobile Money and Orange Money) have improved on their mobile money packages by including more diversified services and upping consumer experience.

From 2015 to 2016, mobile money witnessed an increase in subscription and active usage rates (MTN Mobile Money recorded a 100% increase in its number of active users and 300 000 new subscribers), mobile money has gone closer to the consumers (Orange Money opened close to 1900 new cash points), mobile money offers 13 services (remittance, payment of salaries, taxes, aid disbursements, utility bills, TV bills, travel tickets, tuition fees, insurance, airtime, goods online, goods at supermarkets and A2A transactions), and mobile money is now international (provides direct cross-border remittance services).

In view of this progress rate, the digital operators are likely to lead the Cameroon remittance market in next couple of years… given that their services are, not only innovative, secure, fast, affordable and user-friendly, they also serve the same purpose as those of the traditional operators namely C2C and C2A.




CEMAC SUB-REGION: Top 5 Market Trends in 2016

The remittance market in the CEMAC Sub-Region saw a widespread of activities carried out in 2016. These activities ranged from opening new POS, launching new services and solutions to the entrance of new players. However, technological innovation and the sealing of big deals stood out as the top trends of the past year.

The top 5 trends which marked the CEMAC remittance sector in 2016 include:

Technological Innovations: Remittances and payment of bills at ATM points (BGFI Gabon ATMs) and via mobile money debit cards (Orange Money Cameroon’s Debit Cards)

Vertical Integration / Big Deals: Signing of numerous top deals including: Orange Cameroon & VISA, Société Générale Chad & American Express, WorldRemit & MTN Mobile Money Cameroon, Wari & Orabank Gabon, Wari & Mooz Gabon, etc.

Payment Innovations: Cashless international remittance via BGFI Notes and cashless E-Commerce payments using AmEx Cards at Société Générale ATMs

Cross-border Mobile Money: The launch of Airtel Money International for cross-border mobile money transactions between Airtel Congo Brazza – Airtel Chad & Airtel Congo Brazza – Airtel Rwanda

Improved Consumer Experience: Direct international remittances into mobile wallets (WorldRemit & MTN Mobile Money Cameroon), E-commerce transactions and bill-payments at ATM points (AmEx & Société Générale ATMs) and confirmation of remittance withdrawal via SMS (Western Union Gabon).


West Africa: Wari Partners with MTN for Direct Remittances in Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau

Wari has expanded its digital services to two West African corridors namely Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau. Partnering with MTN Cote d’Ivoire and MTN Bissau, Wari allows its consumers in the said corridors to directly receive local and international remittances into their mobile wallets.  

This partnership correlates with WorldRemit’s strategy to expand its network in Africa by partnering with top Telco operators holding significant subscriber bases so as to directly reach the vast population of mobile money users with its swift, secure and affordable cashless solution.

Considering the growing influence of mobile money operators to boost financial inclusion as well as to reduce the existing huge number (+80%) of “unbanked” African adults, the said deals shall go a long way to increase the mobile money subscription and active usage rates and also improve consumer experience.

As of today, Wari is operational in more than 40 countries worldwide, has above 45 000 locations and records more than 700 000 transactions a day.



Nigeria: Ria Money Transfer Enters Nigeria via Union Bank      

Ria has launched its remittance services in Nigeria thanks to a partnership signed with Union Bank, the leading innovative financial institution in Nigeria. The new deal allows the Nigerian diaspora to send money back home from Ria’s approximately 314,000 locations at Union Bank’s payout locations which includes its branches nationwide.

Mindful of the World Bank’s reports which state that Nigeria received $20.5 billion in remittances in 2015 making it the fifth largest receive country for migrant remittances, the partnership opens Ria to a lucrative niche to stimulate its business growth and profits. Top countries sending to Nigeria include the United Kingdom and United States where many Nigerians reside.



Nigeria: UBA Drives Financial Inclusion with MasterPass QR Payments

The United Bank for Africa (UBA) has introduced the Masterpass QR Merchant App, its first merchant-focused app in Africa with the aim of creating a SMART (secure, mobile, accessible, reliable, transparent) network of 100,000 micro merchants and driving financial inclusion.

Following UBA’s commitment to drive financial and empower businesses across Africa, the UBA MasterCard QR Merchant App is solution developed to deploy safe digital solutions for customers and the banking public. Given thatMicro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) contribute significantly to the economy but remain heavily dependent on cash to run their business, the features of the App will help merchants to plan their businesses better thereby enabling easier access to financial support.

UBA MasterCard QR also provides micro merchants the ability to offer value added services such as bill payments or airtime top-ups to their customers, thus enabling the merchants to expand their current business model and develop a SMART network of micro merchants that are moving beyond cash.

According to the Vice President and Area Business Head for West Africa, MasterCard, Omokehinde Adebanjo the introduction of Masterpass QR speaks directly to our global goal of connecting 40 million MSMEs to MasterCard’s payment network by 2020, in support of their global Financial Access 2020 commitment.


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