AfrikaTech went to meet Elisabeth Medou Badang. Present in the telecom world for more than 20 years. This great woman native of Cameroon is zone manager and spokesperson for Orange Middle East & Africa. Through this interview we will learn more about Orange Money, its beginnings, the reasons for its success and its vision for the future.
Can you introduce yourself and your career?
I am Elisabeth Medou Badang, spokesperson for Orange Middle East & Africa. Member of the management committee of Mr. Alioune Ndiaye, I cover a number of countries in the areas: West Africa, Central, Austral. Previously, I was General Manager of Orange in Cameroon and Botswana. Having started my career in the world of finance, I joined the Orange group for about twenty years now.
What are your missions within Orange?
My day-to-day role in addition to the parolate aspects of translating the group’s strategy vis-à-vis our external stakeholders, is to help the countries I work with to create as much value as possible .
I use an interface to make sure to mobilize within the group all the skills to help them achieve their goals. I make sure with the business supports that the interests of the group are defended in the subsidiaries and that the rules of governance are applied as best as possible in these entities. If I had to summarize I am an interface between the parent company and the subsidiaries. When I am in the country, I represent the parent company when I am at headquarters, I represent the subsidiaries of my area.
How did the first years of Orange Money go?
I would say that the startup was pretty shy. It was Côte d’Ivoire that made the first launch. It is with the arrival of Mamadou Bamba as CEO in Ivory Coast and the conviction that he had development, that things have evolved. He was able to invest what was needed both in energy and financial, so that the service can develop. It should be noted that for several years this activity was rather a cost center, a form of investment, in order to educate the market. There was a need to convince distributors to develop a reliable distribution network, a key success factor in the adoption of this service.
Orange Money celebrates a decade of financial innovation in Africa and confirms its position as a major player in mobile money
What are the difficulties encountered in general and specifically in the development of Orange Money?
One of the main difficulties encountered besides market education for this innovative service, was the construction of the distribution network. Indeed, for this service to work properly, the outlets must be available and have a sufficient working capital. Because if the customer makes a transfer, but does not have access to his money, or if he can not supply his account, this greatly hampers the use of the service.
Simplicity of use is also a necessary element to facilitate adoption. Because when you have other educated people who are not, people who have other smartphones that have simpler phones. It is necessary that the access to the service, and the course of the customer is the simplest possible.
Another problem concerns the identification of users, because in some countries there are problems of access to identity cards. In these countries, there is a challenge to reconcile the need to control these financial activities and the possibility of giving access to people who, regardless of their will, do not always have access to a piece of formal identity.
What is your biggest pride today about Orange Money?
Our greatest pride is the adoption of the Orange Money service by more than 40 million customers. Especially since we are talking about an innovation that is quite sophisticated in a poorly banked environment. Our clients range from a young student to a 75-year-old grandmother, it’s still great to imagine that customers from all walks of life pass like that from a 100% cash company to completely dematerialized financial transactions. This is the essence of the innovation we advocate. An innovation that changes people’s lives, an innovation that makes life easier for people.
We want to go even further in our multiservice operator strategy. Today with Orange money, we start to provide microcredit, savings, tomorrow it will be insurance. In the future we will probably give a similar interview to celebrate the success of Orange Energy.
Can you tell us a few words about this Orange Energy service?
You know the energy deficit in our societies. Access percentages are even lower than for financial inclusion. Mobile being the most accessible technology regardless of the standard of living or location of customers, the challenge is to know how we use this to help improve access to energy for our customers.
Today we have launched in 7 countries Solar Home System solutions that allow a customer to have access to energy through a solar kit. This allows him to connect a TV, a radio or his phone and light his home without having to pay the cost of this installation from the outset. He pays a monthly subscription which gives him access to these equipments and sources of energy. He pays this subscription using Orange money for example.
In which African countries Orange Money meets the most success, why?
Orange Money is successful in various countries, I will start with Côte d’Ivoire which is the country by which the service has developed the most then we have Mali and Cameroon which have developed well, then Senegal. The service works very well also in Burkina Faso as well as in Southern Africa with Botswana.
What sets you apart from Western Union, MoneyGram?
I mentioned all the types of use available to the customer with Orange Money. You can transfer money effectively locally or abroad as do the companies you mentioned but you can also pay for your insurance, electricity bill, school fees for your children, you can send money money abroad, pay wages. As you can see There is a multitude of services accessible to customers beyond the simple transfer of money.
Taking into account only the money transfer service, we have a much larger distribution network and greater ease of use. It is true that there are many money transfer companies that have applications today but applications that only works on smartphones connected to the Internet while at Orange Money our solution also works on the features phone. The customer can access the service from anywhere, knowing he can count on a network of nearby points of sale.
The dazzling development of the African Mobile Money more and more competed by banks and fintech
Have you planned for interoperability with other Mobile Money services?
Yes, we recently launched in partnership with MTN, the Mowali company that allows interoperability between our two mobile money solutions. This interoperability platform is not intended to be limited simply to Orange and MTN, it will attract other mobile money operators, and other actors to whom it offers the opportunity of a unique interface allowing reach mobile money customers from multiple countries
What is your vision for Orange Money in 5 years, 10 years?
I think that in 5 to 10 years, if the development of the service continues as we envision, Orange Money type solutions will be essential to facilitate everything related to payment. It is also an important lever in the process of reducing cash in the company and allows a significant improvement in the efficiency of transactions, regardless of the type of users.
Mobile banking services will become a reference payment method in our economies. I think it will also be a great way to access a number of financial services. It will be a way to accelerate the adoption of specific services such as insurance but also to develop e-commerce. In short, it will be an essential and indispensable lever of financial inclusion in Africa.
Our ambition at Orange is to be a multi-service operator partner of the digital transformation and development of the digital economy of the continent, the development of Orange money is an essential lever for the implementation of this strategy.