A year and a half after the outbreak of the health crisis linked to the coronavirus, the Cameroonian banking sector is trying to revive itself by digitizing its services. Thus, the recent launch of remote banking operations without internet and without smartphone, associating banks and mobile telephone operators through a national electronic communications aggregation platform with USSD code # 237 # 001 #, is part of this approach. aimed at improving financial inclusion.
According to the Professional Association of Credit Institutions of Cameroon (APECCAM) made up of around twenty commercial banks, public banking organizations and financial institutions whose total balance sheet rose from CFAF 4,687 billion in 2015 to 6,472 billion in 2019, i.e. an increase of 50% in less than five years, the emphasis on accelerating digital transformation in the banking sector is an asset in resisting the harmful effects of the pandemic.
“The transformation of ‘core banking’ has enabled retail banking to reinvent itself in order to respond effectively to customer needs and to set its digital business model to music. Banks have considerably improved their customer experience, their competitiveness but also the quality of the services offered, “said Alphonse Nanfack, President of APECCAM, who is also Managing Director of Afriland First Bank.
Achieving this objective requires, among other things, the establishment of a strategic focus on the financing of the economy aimed at increasing the rate of banking services, which stands at 29% (extension of the network of banking agencies ) and the development of SMEs as well as the stability and soundness of the banking sector. Despite the bad debt ratio of 16.6% due in particular to the health crisis, the Cameroonian banking system intends to step up its support to the affected productive sector through increased financing for the national economy.
In this perspective, the one-off relaxation by the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) of the conditions for classifying, recording and provisioning unpaid debts to support companies affected by the Covid-19 crisis, as well as the duration of downgrading to bad debts of depreciable credits momentarily passing from 90 to 180 days constitutes a breath of fresh air for the banks.