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With one in every five Cameroonians living abroad, remittances play an increasing role in the West African nation, believes Imane Charioui, WorldRemit director for Francophone Africa. This year alone, about $86 million was sent to the country via the fintech.
“Access to remittances changed in 2016 when WorldRemit entered Cameroon, immediately establishing partnerships with existing businesses to rapidly increase its spread across the country,” explains Charioui.
She cites a 2020 World Bank review which found that Cameroon received just over $334 million in personal remittances sent back home to families who rely on the money for daily living, education and development.
Yet, even though the Cameroonian diaspora has long been willing to send money home, limitations in withdrawal options, and the slow speed of transfers, were significant deterrents.
WorldRemit changes rural lives
It was even more challenging to send money to the rural areas, which is home to 42% of the country’s population.
“Rural recipients were often required to travel many kilometres to nearby cities where they could access banks, the main pick-up points for many remittance services,” says Charioui.
“WorldRemit supports direct transfers to mobile money wallets, allowing for withdrawals at local mobile money agents, widening the reach of the services across the country. But the biggest impact has been on the speed of transactions, where transfers take just minutes to reach the recipient, a far cry from yesteryears, when it took days, sometimes weeks to complete transactions.”
With the quickened speeds of WorldRemit’s different transfer options, Cameroonians in over 130 countries can quickly respond to emergencies back home, including urgent medical bills and school fees.
The transfer costs on the platform are also among the world’s lowest, and as the company maintains transparency about its charges, recipients always get the exact amount that the sender intended.
Charioui says, “It is this impactful presence of WorldRemit in the lives of Cameroonians that has seen it grow exponentially over the last six years. In 2022 alone, about $86 million was sent to Cameroon via WorldRemit, buoyed by the rapid uptake of digital remittance technologies worldwide following the Covid-19 pandemic.”