The Bank of Central African States (BEAC) has just called on mobile telephone operators to end the use or operation of telephone credit units in CFA Francs to avoid confusion with legal tender in force in the member states of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).
The use of electronic money in CEMAC countries is once again the subject of disagreements between the BEAC acting as the monetary authority of the sub-region, and the telephone operators who use it as a means of payment. The latest news is related to the interpretations of the provisions of the 2019 Cameroon Finance Law relating to the collection of customs duties and taxes digitally on telephones and digital terminals.
Indeed, the Association of Mobile Phone Concessionaire Operators in Cameroon had in correspondence on October 9, 2020, seized the Central Bank to request that the communication credit units appearing on the telephone accounts of customers be transformed into means of payment, therefore in currency.
Reacting to this approach of the mobile telephone operators, the BEAC opposed an end of inadmissibility indicating that « the communication credits are a commodity, a product or a service which are used only for the services of telephony and which, even s ‘they have a market value, are not means of payment or currency’.
Given that these services are created by companies not having the status of Payment Service Providers authorized to issue and manage means of payment, “Telephone credit units are therefore not, in the state of Community regulations applicable, neither fiat money, nor electronic money, nor an instrument or means of payment ”, ruled the Central Bank.
To avoid breaches of the regulations, “the BEAC takes advantage of this opportunity to recommend, through you, to the members of your association and to all the mobile telephone concession operators operating in Cameroon and more generally in the CEMAC, to avoid in the future, any presentation, use or exploitation of telephone credit units in CFA Francs, which is likely to cause confusion with the legal tender in force in the Member States ”. Achille Mbog Pibasso