Mobile money interoperability is now effective across Central Africa region

In the CEMAC region, mobile money interoperability is now effective, according to the Bank of Central African States (Beac). Thanks to this interoperability, a mobile money wallet holder can directly transfer money to the wallet of another user even if they are not clients of the same mobile operator.  

This interoperability is the result of works being done, since 2019, by the banking and e-payment sectors.  

In his release published on April 15, 2020, Abbas Mahamat Tolli, Governor of the BEAC, asked CEMAC residents to opt for this payment method available throughout the sub-region. According to the governor, this will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by reducing physical cash transactions.

Apart from being a barrier to the spread of the infection, this interoperability is a real revolution in the CEMAC region’s payment system. According to a source close to the sector, this official launch means that from now on, transactions can be carried out directly between bank accounts, mobile money wallets, and bank cards.

These direct transactions were possible in the past but there was no common interoperability platform. Therefore, the process was arduous. For instance, when an MTN Cameroon user sends a mobile money payment to an Orange Cameroon subscriber, the latter had to go to an MTN collection point within three days or the transaction would be canceled. However, with the new platform, there is no need for that. The payment is directly transferred into the Orange Cameroon user’s mobile money wallet.

Also, it was possible to transfer or withdraw money from bank accounts via the mobile money accounts offered by some mobile operators.

The governor’s release does not provide all the details concerning the use of this technology. For instance, there could be a pricing problem since one of the challenges will be to harmonize transaction fees. Also, the release does not state whether local transfers will incur the same fees as regional transactions.

Let’s note that some of the parties involved do not have the required technology yet. This will restrict the rapid adoption of this opportunity.