Central African MNOs told to stop deducting airtime as payment

17 November 2020

The Bank of Central African States (BEAC), the sole central bank within the membership-based Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), has warned MNOs in the sub-region to stop deducting airtime for payments.

In a correspondence dated 29 October 2020 sent to the president of Cameroon Association of Telephone Mobile Operators (CATMO), BEAC governor Abbas Mahamat Tolli insisted communication airtime is not a recognised mode of payment within CEMAC.

He stated subscribers’ airtime should only be deducted for communications and data subscription.

“In effect, please note that communication airtime is a commodity, product or service, which only serves for telephone services and, even though they have a market value, they are not a mode of payment or currencies,” Tolli said. “They are created by companies which are not payment service providers authorised to issue and manage means of payment.”

The governor added that mindful of the applicable regulations within the monetary community, communication airtime is neither fiduciary money, electronic money, nor an instrument or means of payment.

Recently, network service providers operating within the sub-region, comprising Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, and their third parties have deducted users’ communication airtime to pay for value-added services.

The central bank wants this to stop as its persistence may give users the false notion that communication airtime is a legal means of payment within the sub-region.