Main trends

According to a 2015 report of the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (WAEMU), Senegal and Niger recorded similar developments at the end of September 2015 with respective volumes of 18m and 19m transactions valued at CFAF152bn and 149bn. In 2014, these two countries had respective volumes of 18.8m and 14.6m transactions valued at FCFA192bn and 108bn. WAEMU said that the increase in business volume is supported by the growing number of subscribers to financial services via mobile telephony, which stood at 21.9 million at the end of September 2015 compared to 18.2 million in 2014 and 11 million in 2013. In Niger they were 1.9 million, while Côte d'Ivoire concentrates most of the activity with 47 percent of users (9.8 million), followed by Mali (2.7 million), Benin (2.3 million ), Senegal (2.2 million), and Burkina (2 million).

At the end of September 2015, person-to-person transfer services accounted for approximately 8.66 percent and 15.89 percent of total transactions, respectively, in volume and value, compared with approximately 7 percent and 12 percent of total transactions in 2014. Compared to 2013 and 2014, the value of funds exchanged on this service segment tripled, from 150 billion in 2013 to 457 billion in 2014 and 807 billion FCFA at the end of September 2015. In 2015, the transfer services between the countries of the Union represent 2.51 percent of the value of transactions via mobile telephony and 26 percent of the value of interpersonal transfers. Users are gradually getting used to transferring funds via their e-wallets. These developments are particularly marked in Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and to a lesser extent in Senegal and Niger.

Users of mobile banking are especially located in urban areas because of illiteracy and a lack of communication means in rural areas. Illiteracy has a definite impact on the use of mobile payment methods. Indeed, mobile phones operate in alphabetical and encrypted modes. This makes it impossible for illiterate people to easily use mobile money, as the need to ask somebody literate to open a mobile bank account and use it on their behalf. Mobile operators could increase the use of mobile banking and their earnings by promoting initiatives to improve the literacy of the population.

The Union Économique et Monétaire Ouest-Africaine (West African Economic and Monetary Union - UEMOA/PAES) asserts that as of 2015, in terms of the positioning of the players, the Orange Group, operating in four countries of the Union, has developed a money transfer and mobile payment system in partnership with BNP Paribas subsidiaries, which has helped to overcome the fears of users linked to security risks, and earned a market share of 38 percent. The group is the major player in the sector and partners with BNP Paribas subsidiaries in various countries concerned, with the exception of Niger where it is in partnership with Bank of Africa (BOA). However, thanks to the possibilities offered by the new regulations, the group has embarked on a new strategy aimed at ending the partnership with banks by creating autonomous subsidiaries dedicated to electronic money. In this regard, in June 2015, it submitted applications to the BCEAO for the approval of three EMEs respectively in Senegal, Mali and Côte d'Ivoire. The Orange subsidiary of Senegal was approved in December 2015.