CEMAC: With 64.8% of accounts and 73.1% of transactions, Cameroon confirms leadership in the mobile money market in 2020

In 2020, 30.1 million mobile money accounts were active in the CEMAC zone, according to the Bank of Central African States (BEAC). In its recent report titled “Les services de Paiement en Monnaie électronique dans la Cemac en 2020” (electronic money payment services in 2020), the BEAC reveals that the figure represents a 21% year to year increase in the number of active mobile money accounts. 

Considered as the economic powerhouse of the CEMAC, Cameroon accounted for 64.8% (19.5 million) of the overall accounts active during the period, thus the leader in that market. Cameroon accounts for almost three times the number of mobile money accounts held by the Congolese (7.1 million) and almost ten times the number of accounts held by the Gabonese (2.7 million). 

The BEAC explains that during the period under review, Cameroon confirmed its leadership over the CEMAC electronic payment market by recording the highest number of transactions.  “As far as the number of transactions is concerned, payment service providers operating in Cameroon accounted for 73.13% of the numbers recorded in the community [CEMAC],” the report explains.  

Even though it accounted for fewer active mobile money accounts than Congo, Gabon came second behind Cameroon in terms of the number of transactions, with 16.7% of overall mobile money transactions recorded in the region in 2020 while Congo accounted for 9.25%. Overall, Cameroon, Gabon, and Congo accounted for 99% of the number of mobile money accounts active in the CEMAC region in 2020 and 98.8% of the transaction value.  

Financial Inclusion 

According to data compiled by the BEAC, since 2016 when mobile money services penetrated the CEMAC region, the number of operators has not changed much. From 11 in 2016 and 2017, it rose to 13 in 2018 then to 16 in 2019. However, the number of accounts opened shot up fast. From 12.6 million in 2016, it rose by 21.8% within 5 years to reach 30.1 million by December 30, 2020. 

At the same time, the value of transactions rose from XAF1,631.7 billion in 2016 to over XAF14,822 billion as of end-December 2020. Meaning that on average, XAF40.6 billion of mobile money was transacted daily in 2020 against XAF31 billion in 2019, representing a 30.96% year-to-year growth. 

“Up to late 2018, electronic money issuance and management could only be performed thanks to a partnership between commercial banks and mobile operators. However, from January 1, 2019, the regulation now allows the emergence of new actors that are no more required to partner with commercial banks. Such actors are now classified as payment institutions,” the BEAC indicates. The central bank thus forecasts a good prospect for the moile money, presented as “a real catalyst for financial inclusion and the development of the digital or digitalization of payments and ultimately contributing to the development of African economies.”  

Brice R. Mbodiam