[Column] Imane Charioui: Factors that will continue to shape the Cameroonian remittance market in 2023
In the last decade, the cross-border remittance market has undergone tremendous changes evolving from traditional offerings to much faster, easier and safer payment methods, thanks to digital disruptors.
With the rise of globalization and migration, followed by the demand for cross-border payments solutions, fintech organizations’ have changed the landscape by developing digitally enabled solutions for their consumers. The shift is positively impacting the financial industry and improving the lives of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the first-half 2022, remittance inflows iCameroon, via WorldRemit, totaled £75 million GBP, boosted by the rapid need for digital remittances worldwide following the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2023, it is projected the remittance industry will continue to evolve with innovation in the fintech sector at a quick pace. This will take place amidst an increasingly challenging economic environment with a continued increase in the cost of living and inflation across the globe. With these factors in mind, remittance expert Imane Charioui, Director of Francophone Africa and Middle East, WorldRemit, shares some insights on what to expect in the Cameroonian remittance market in 2023.
Cashless transactions and mobile money
Mobile technology is a global game changer for remittances because it removes the need for costly brick-and-mortar branches. In Cameroon, digital infrastructure has evolved considerably with mobile acting as a key enabler and the primary channel for connectivity. For instance, the mobile population coverage rate for 2G is 96%, 85% for 3G and 53% for 4G.
In 2020 the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) revealed that Cameroon alone held 64.8% of all active accounts of The Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC). This accounted 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).
Additionally, Cameroon also confirmed its leadership over CEMAC's electronic payment market by recording the highest number of transactions at 73.13%. The increased public engagement with technology, and uptake of digital tools, are positive steps for Cameroon's growing digital economy and the future of its fintech ecosystem in 2023.
Increased use of Money Transfer Operators (MTOs)
As online money transfer tools become more and more a part of people's lifestyles, online money transfers will continue to grow steadily in 2023. However, the likelihood of further adverse international developments persisting into 2023 is high and the pace of remittance flows to Sub-Saharan Africa may ease to 3.9% from the 16.4% advance of 2021.
This is due to the economic outlook dimming and real wages expected to contract in the United States, and Europe where higher inflation is expected to impact areas that Cameroonian migrants reside. However, food affordability and the deterioration of real incomes across African states still indicate the need for financial support from diaspora.
As such, MTOs such as WorldRemit will continue to provide essential services to many Cameroonian families in need. At WorldRemit, 90 percent of money transferred to Cameroon is sent within minutes. This eliminates long wait times and complexities of traditional remittance processes. The recipients secure their money through WorldRemit's suite of options designed for different services such as via trusted banks, mobile money, and cash pick-up locations.
MTOs will continue to help communities in different countries connect with their loved ones through financial support. Remittances are the backbone of many developing nations' economies, and MTOs will keep playing their part in increasing the remittance flow.
Imane Charioui is the Director of Francophone Africa & Middle East at WorldRemit