Overview of Digital Financial Services in the West African Economic and Monetary Union

  • Participants attend the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) African Mobile Phone Financial Services Policy Initiative (AMPI) in Senegal in February 2016
    Participants attend the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) African Mobile Phone Financial Services Policy Initiative (AMPI) in Senegal in February 2016
Participants attend the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) African Mobile Phone Financial Services Policy Initiative (AMPI) in Senegal in February 2016.

Overview of Digital Financial Services in the West African Economic and Monetary Union

2016-08-01

The BCEAO (Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest) is the central bank for the eight country members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU): Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Countries of the WAEMU share one central bank, one currency (CFA) and one monetary policy.

In the WAEMU, the development of digital financial services has had an important impact on access to financial services.

The central bank authorizes two types of models for the issuance of e-money: the banking model and the non-bank model. Under the banking model, e-money issuance is the responsibility of a credit institution or microfinance institution, either in partnership with a technical operator or not. The non-bank model is implemented within the framework of a non-banking institution, called an electronic money institution (EME), which is approved to issue e-money.

An innovative e-money regulatory framework adopted by the BCEAO in 2006 and revised in May 2015, has contributed to major progress in the WAEMU, which had 33 e-money issuers as of the end of September 2015. Twenty-nine of the e-money issuers were created from partnerships with banks and telcos, and the other four were stand-alone e-money issuers, including microfinance institutions.

Between January and September 2015, e-money users in the WAEMU made 346.9 million transactions worth FCFA 5.121 billion (USD 8.5 billion), an increase of 33% and 36% respectively, compared to 2014. The average daily value of transactions was FCFA 18.96 billion FCFA (USD 31.5 million) at the end of September 2015 compared to FCFA 10.3 billion (USD 16.4 million) in 2014, and FCFA 4.4 billion (USD 6.5 million) in 2013. At the end of September 2015, an average of 1.2 million transactions were processed per day across all mobile payment platforms in the WAEMU, compared to 710,242 at the end of December 2014.