“Excuse me, sir, are you aware of any mobile money service in Cameroon known as Glomo Money?"

“No sir, I am not. What’s it all about?”, Divine Ngwa responds to my question as I set out to the streets of Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, to find out if residents know of a young up and coming indigenous mobile money outfit in the Central African nation.

It is a service known as Glomo Money. It was developed and put into use in 2019 by an Investment Banking Company, Guarantee Trust Investments, GTI. It now has close to 50,000 users across the country of 25 million citizens, but many say they are still to learn of it.

A Glomo Money service kiosk at a neighborhood in Cameroon's capital Yaounde, Cameroon.

Mobile money operations are not new in Cameroon, but the sector is largely dominated by foreign multinational companies. Since the first electronic money service was launched in the country in 2008 by Express Union, a Cameroonian company, and later by MTN in 2010, GTI  is the only other Cameroonian outfit that has been able to develop a mobile money service, similar to what the foreign companies operating in the sector, offer.

Like the services offered by the multinational companies such as MTN Cameroon, Orange Cameroun, and the YUP mobile money platform of Société Générale banking group, GTI’s Glomo Money has been designed to enable users to transfer and withdraw cash as well as carry out other financial transactions electronically.

How Cameroon's mobile money service, Glomo Money, works

“GTI, together with a group of Cameroonian investors, decided to come up with an electronic wallet called Glomo Money because we saw the growing need for it by a vast number of Cameroonians. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention,” the Chief Executive Officer of GTI, Henry Asonganyi Asong, told iAfrikan in Yaounde.

According to Asonganyi, the App which is Internet-supported can be downloaded from Google Play, and it’s flexible and user-friendly.

“Glomo Money can help you do many things. You can transfer money to persons; pay water, electricity, and cable TV bills. There is also what we call Glomo Taxis. This option enables you to pay your taxi fare using the application easily without any problems of change or fake banknotes,” Asonganyi explained.

No adequate government support

Despite the lofty initiative which Asonganyi said is intended to “serve the common man especially at a time when the Cameroon government is putting a lot of interest in the digital economy”, the GTI CEO however regretted that certain government policies are not making things easy for them.

He said it is time for the government to make the mobile money market ground more level for multinationals as well as for local companies.

“I think it is time now for the government to not only do the talking but to take concrete policy actions by supporting indigenous companies that are into this sector of the economy. For instance, if the government is signing contracts with multinational companies for Cameroonians to use their services to pay school fees for their children, they should also sign such contracts with national companies so that we too can do the same thing and compete with these multinational companies,” the GTI CEO implored.

“Another thing is the legal framework. The laws that govern this sector in Cameroon make it extremely difficult for local companies to operate and thrive. So, the government must be able to look at these issues to come up with policies and laws that give more leverage to nationals to operate in this sector,” Asonganyi said.

Asonganyi added that although the government has held a series of investment seminars on the digital economy urging Cameroonian investors to get involved in the sector, he believes it is now time for authorities to walk the talk with concrete policy action.

Many Cameroonians still do not use mobile money services

Apart from aspects related to lack of adequate government support for Glomo Money and the dominance of multinationals in the sector in Cameroon, one other big concern is the fact that many Cameroonians are yet to fully embrace the digital money experience. As such, many of them do not have mobile money accounts.

For those who have, they really do not think the Cameroonian solution is worth a try. But this is what Asonganyi has to tell them. “Cameroonians have a perception problem. They must know that in order for their economy to boom, they must learn to fully embrace, consume and support indigenous goods and services. Most Cameroonians tend to ignore local initiatives no matter how good such initiatives are. They prefer most often to believe and trust in foreign goods and services. This is a mentality problem that has to change.”

Asonganyi said it’s even more important to embrace the initiative because the future of the Cameroonian economy which is the biggest and most diversified in the central African sub region, will only fully develop with the digital touch. He also pointed out that the Glomo Money wallet, just like any other one that may come up, has the potential to create employment opportunities for thousands of Cameroonian youth.

The digital economy is actually the future of our economy. And the services are very important to the common man. A few years ago, for instance, almost all Cameroonians had to rush to banks and queue up just to lay hands on money. But today, with a mobile telephone, you can pick up money from any nearby kiosk. All of this is thanks to the digital or new economy which government has been trying hard to promote,” he said.

“In this generation, you cannot do without digital money services. I can tell you that within the next couple of years, many more services will be delivered to Cameroonians through digital means,” the GTI boss added, saying they are on an aggressive campaign to try to get many more Cameroonians subscribe to the service.

He also revealed that they are in advanced talks with government and the regulatory authority of financial services within the central African region in order to see how the service can be extended to other countries with the Economic Community of Central AFRICA, CEMAC, as well as the rest of the continent.

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