South Africa is at the centre of an iGaming storm

The Bank of Central African States (BEAC) has singled out Cameroon and Gabon for the growth opportunity in their respective electronic payment service markets. The Bank of Central African States (BEAC) is a central bank that serves six central African countries which form the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, including Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo.

The financial institution cited a report on the state of electronic payment services in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) in 2020. According to the report, the economic block was home to 16 authorized payment providers in 2020 compared to 11 in 2016. It is a testament to the mobile money growth in these countries and for these financial service providers to spot the potentials the region posses. The region’s opportunities over the last couple of years, just like the growth and penetration of mobile money success in East Africa, accounts for billions of transactions transacted through mobile money and have aided many sectors such as the iGaming industry and help those in rural and underserved population to have access to financial service.

This same success could be experienced in the Central African region within the last five years which the area sees the numbers of payment providers rise from 2016 to 2020. The mobile money services providers were spread across Cameroon (MTN Mobile Money, Orange Money, BGFI Money, and YUP), Congo (MTN Mobile Money, Airtel Money, BICIG Money, and Mobi Cash), Chad (Airtel Money, and Tigo Cash), CAR (Orange Money, and Pata Bian), and Equatorial Guinea (BGFI Money). Authority had to withdraw the mobile money license granted to the United Bank of Africa (UBA) Cameroon in partnership with Viettel Cameroon (Nextel). The companies failed to initiate the service six months after securing the license. The number of electronic money accounted for in the region CEMAC reached 30.1 million in 2020, a 21.81 per cent increase from 2019. The sector remains dominated by Cameroon, with 19.5 million accounts, totalling 64.89 per cent of the total number of reports in CEMAC, followed by Congo (7.1 million) and Gabon (2.7 million).

In terms of volume, these countries carried out over 1.1 billion transactions in 2020 against 797 million transactions in 2019. Electronic payment service providers in Cameroon carried out 73.13 per cent of transactions in the zone, followed by Gabon, 16.69 per cent, and Congo, 9.5 per cent. Despite the promising look, BEAC indicated that identification difficulties facing operators in the bloc were most profound in the Central African Republic. In Chad, people prefer to use airtime as currency instead of mobile money.

Speaking Finance specialist Ediage, Eric confirmed that mobile money is fast growing that in the sub-region, but there is a need for the central bank to take robust action on regulations on financial operators.

“Countries with fast-growing mobile money markets generally adopt enabling regulatory frameworks for those incentives providers to invest and roll out a wide range of services and incentives to consumers to use mobile money, particularly the underserved and unbanked populations. I think BEAC needs a keen look on this aspect,” – he said.

Ediage noted that regulators had concentrated the use of mobile money in person-to-person payments. In contrast, person-to-business, business-to-business, and government-to-business payments are rarely transferred through mobile money.

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