13 Jul 2015

Interview with AfricaCom Keynote speaker Moussa Thiemoko Dao, Director Orange Money, Orange Cameroun

We interview AfricaCom speaker Moussa Thiemoko Dao, Director Orange Money, Orange Cameroun ahead of the event to get his insights on the future of mobile money in Africa and the challenges being faced by the market.

Moussa will be speaking on Tuesday 17th November at 15:00 on the Central African experience with   special focus on Cameroon - how do banks benefit from Mobile Money integration? and on Wednesday 18th November at 14:20 in a panel discussion on the future of International remittance. 

To find out more and to download the draft agenda, visit our website.

What is the future looking like for mobile money in Central Africa and Cameroon?

The future for mobile money is bright in all aspects in Central Africa and in Cameroon in particular: The market is increasingly getting exposed to the service (including in the very remote areas), government is enforcing the use of mobile money in a growing number of operations, partnerships between the major stakeholders are increasing, overarching financial institutions (World Bank; IMF;…) are giving more attention to the current challenges,…In short, the development of mobile money in the region is key for the all the major stakeholders, including the users who constantly make suggestions on how to expand the knowledge and usage of the services within their communities.

In a recent publication, reference was made to Sub Saharan Africa as the laboratory for mobile money development. The term laboratory says it all and Central Africa is not an exception to it . Indeed, it took some vision and a definite boldness (from the Central Bank of Kenya; from the operators; from the partners;…) to establish mobile money in the usages in Kenya and make it a success story. Tanzania is developing the service in the same fashion. In Cameroon and in the Central Africa region, we are coming to terms with certain factors which have been slowing down the development of the service. This will get boosted under the impulsion of the operators, the Central bank, the partners and of course the users.

What would you say are the main challenges that mobile financial services in Africa need to overcome in the short to mid-term?

In my view, the 1st challenge is to secure a wide and optimal accessibility to the service through various supports and levers. The more accessible the service is, the more exposed populations are to its features. The combination of these two fosters confidence.

The 2nd challenge in the continent is a regulatory one. At times, we may have the impression that the rules are not levelled by the Central Banks for the participants in the same geography. In some instances, banks are favoured, in some others, launching new services get very constraining,…

The 3rd one is on the involvement of the government. We have seen across the continent some very interesting initiatives (Tax payment in Cameroon; School fees in Cote d’Ivoire; prepaid electricity in Botswana)...In all financial services, the involvement of government is a key success factor.

Overall, it is also key to note that informal financial transactions have always existed as an answer to unreliable or insufficient financial systems. Mobile money is actually an opportunity for all stakeholders to safely channel money; protect the users; develop the SME’s,… simply put, mobile money is key to unlock the benefits of financial inclusion.

How effective have Orange been towards solving real issues around rural unbanked populations in Africa?

We have been launching interesting initiatives to secure the accessibility of this service across our footprints. A certain number of them have been very effective into boosting the adoption of the service. Such trend have given us the confidence of public authorities (Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali,…) to handle the transactions towards the rural unbanked populations (social welfare; school fees; tax payment;…)
It is a constant exercise into our ambition to keep leading the mobile money business in our footprint.

How are interoperability and international remittance assisting Orange on it’s journey?

International remittance has proven to be a very good enabler. The corridor Mali-Senegal-Cote d’Ivoire has shown very interesting results. International remittance is an important lever which we keep exploring to better serve our customers.

How do you feel regulators should foster innovation in the mobile payment space? Is there too much flexibility or too much regulation at present?

Regulation is key to the success of mobile money. It is interesting to note that we have been observing along the years how regulators have position mobile money (surely according to the local configurations and financial system set up) to enable the activity and trigger the relevant innovations: In some geographies mobile money has been set up as a clear enabler of financial inclusion through flexible configurations and direct interactions with the regulators (East Africa). In some others, it has either been set up as a strict extension of the commercial banks (Central Africa) or, on the contrary, as a complete and independent business unit in charge of developing the service with a direct relationship with the Central Bank (West Africa). It is therefore challenging to draw a global conclusion at the continent level.

However, we have noticed that places where mobile money is more developed are where regulation does not precede innovation and where there is an open ecosystem which allows interactions all the way to the regulator (Central Bank in most cases). In parallel, a code of conduct has been signed by the mobile money providers in the telecommunication industry. It is the commitment we all take to ensure that we define and abide by a standard of mobile money business. This shows that we acknowledge the level of professionalism which we, providers, must put in the execution of the initiatives. In the light of this, it will be helpful that regulators constantly aim at favouring conducive environments through flexible set ups which will enable direct interactions with the banks and the Central Banks. Such set up will help include mobile money as a complete suite of primary financial services in their respective geographies. It will also help to reduce the challenges of industry related interpretation of the regulation in such an innovative space. We like to think that this evolution is worth the effort in regards with the objective to provide primary means of payment to people with no (or limited) access to basic means of financial payments, a population estimated at 80% of the Sub Saharan Africa.

To find out more about AfricaCom, or to register your interest, visit our website: www.comworldseries.com/africa