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Is Wave responsible for the CFA hike?

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Wave, an American based financial institution founded by Drew Durbin and Lincoln Quirk, with subsidiaries in Senegal, Mali, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo, has stormed the Gambian finance market with unmatched services that have been viewed as a threat by their competitors who could not hide their fears. The cheap services the company offers has triggered catalogues of conspiracies from its competitors in the finance sector who accused them of being responsible for the dalasi depreciation against the CFA. The company is also accused of lying about its claim of charging domestic customers one percent for their service against the 5 percent charge by its competitors and that the Senegalese government has blocked its inbound from Senegal to The Gambia.

Reacting to the allegations, the Wave Management said the company has nothing to do with the dalasi depreciation against the CFA and that those making the claims lack understanding on how Wave operates.

“We don’t set the CFA rate; we get it from the parallel market who determined its cash rate and we cannot be below the cash rate as a business because if we do, the consequences will be unscrupulous as individuals would use our platform to send money to Senegal and circulate it back in the market and sold it at a high rate through round tripping. Wave have never bought a single dalasi in the market because the Senegalese Central Bank has instructed us to deposit all the outbound transfers into a bank account for onward delivery to Senegal. This is the truth,” the management said.

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Inbound transfer

Commenting on claims that the Senegalese government has banned Wave customers in Senegal from sending money to The Gambia, the management said: “Wave, not doing the inbound service has nothing to do with the Senegalese authorities restricting the CFA, it is a process but eventually we will receive the approval. Banks in Senegal are not restricted from sending to The Gambia, Wari and Ria were given approval to do both inbound and outbound by the Central Bank of Senegal. We are working very hard to ensure that people are able to receive money from Senegal through Wave. We have made the request to the Senegalese authorities and hopefully by the end of July we will be able to start the inbound transfer. Those who understand economics will tell you Wave doesn’t have the capacity to negatively impact the country’s currency or economy.”

According to the management, the company is operating over 1,000 outlets and employing over 200 young Gambians while partnering with bureaus, businesses and corner shops.

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USD shortage

On the issue of the dollar shortage, the management added: “We are working with our partners in the United States to use part of the remittances we remit to The Gambia for our transfers to Senegal and sell the rest to our partner banks in The Gambia. We hope this will make a little difference. But this doesn’t mean that we have anything to do with the shortage of the dollar.”

Wave or Sendwave?

Wave has been confused by many to Sendwave but the management said the companies might have similar names but they are not owned by the same investors.

“It is true that the owners of Wave used to own Sendwave but they have sold it to Worldremit. So, Sendwave is an international money transfer just like Western Union, Ria, MoneyGram and so on and it is completely different from Wave. So, even if our local MTOs want, they can work with Sendwave directly because we don’t have an exclusive arrangement with them and even if we wanted to, we cannot. In addition, our local MTOs can also terminate into Wave wallet as an option instead of having their customers queuing in their branches. Wave is just a wallet and it is not here to take anyone’s business. All we are saying is, do not use cash, just use your Wave wallet to buy cash power and credit for free and send money without holding cash. The interesting part of it, is that we are depositing those monies in the banks who are highly appreciative of that. Those complaining should hear this out.”

A directive from The Gambia Central Bank has advised the MTOs to avoid selling the dollar beyond D60 but they are reportedly disregarding that and selling it at D64 which is responsible for the dalasi’ depreciation against the dollar.

Reactions

Commenting on the controversial debate, Anti-corruption activist and executive director – Gambia Participates, Marr Nyang, said: “We refused to invest into industrialisation, we refused to expand agricultural produce and processing to meet public demand, so we receive this public demand goods by purchasing with foreign currency. We refused to promote Made in Gambia, we have frustrated destination Gambia, tourism is no more as it were thanks to childish new policies and heavy taxes. Of course, every bad public policy benefits the few. That’s how they have been ‘rock’n’roll Ing’! We steal from ourselves, to contribute to the dalasi depreciation and like always, we use the opportunity before us as a scapegoat (in this case Wave), like always, to divert public blame to the innocents.”

He added: “We know where the problem is, it is right here before us, we were too comfortable with our suit and tie while the dalasi suffer, we always take things for granted, as far as our decision makers aren’t affected, they careless. When it hits hard, they react. Yes, our system of governance is mostly reactive. We focus on the consequences of our problems, not the foundation. Besides, mobile money has been here for a very long time and it has always been the government’s plan to promote economic digitalisation. Digital money frustrates corruption, we have seen how revenue collection doubled at the Senegambia bridge after the introduction of the tolling system. Wave should be rejoicing as they have just got more popular for being a scapegoat of our long-lasting economic problem, even before they start operating in Senegal. I love the new Gambia sense of resilience, never allowing it to be taken for a ride. Governance of scapegoating manifests mediocrity and lack of core problem solvers.”

Also, commenting on the issue, Lamin Ceesay, said: “The dalasi is losing its value against the CFA simply because of the number of activities Gambia is doing in Senegal including the electricity supply from Senelec and the importation of goods through the Senegalese ports to Banjul. Why are we not talking about the dollar and other foreign currencies that are rising against the dalasi on a daily basis?”.

He urged the government to ignore the noise coming from Wave’s competitors, saying they have “no justification to blame Wave for being responsible for the CFA hike against the dalasi”. “Wave is a godsend for the poor people,” he said. 

Fatou Faye, a customer, said the unprecedented services provided by Wave are making life easy for their customers, adding that Gambians have never experienced such a breath-taking service.

“I hardly move around with money – every month I will visit the nearest Wave office and make a deposit in my account of mostly monies I would need to buy cash power, credit and sometimes monies I usually send to my family. So, with my Wave App I buy cash power and credit for free and send money to my family for as low as one percent fees,” she said.

What you need to know about Wave…

Wave is focused on mobile money service that is easy to use and affordable.

Its vision of a modern financial network is simple: No account fees, instantly available and accepted everywhere. Within a year, it has pitched tent in The Gambia as an innovative and people-friendly company that has planted its operations in various parts of the country to avail customers the opportunity to deposit and withdraw cash at any of its agents in the communities as well as to pay bills for free digitally using the Wave App. It services has served as complement to government’s efforts to attain financial inclusion to breach the gap of over 80 percent adults in the country who don’t have access to financial services.

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