The journalist Théophile Kouamouo says he observes with a little frightened fascination the reactions of Ivorian Internet users to the conflict between the points of sale (POS) of mobile money and the operators of electronic money (in particular Orange Money and Wave). Its decryption!
Théophile Kouamouo on the Mobile Money Points strike: “Let’s be vigilant!”
The case is fascinating because we are faced with one of the dilemmas of the globalized economy seen from below. It structurally opposes the consumer and the worker, but in reality they are one. Your consumer brain pushes you to always look for the lowest price. And your working brain pushes you to protect your business, your margins, your income.
A certain ill-informed romanticism initially considered the war between Orange Money and Wave as a war of evil against good, of the old, overly greedy French-African firm against the American start-up which breaks the codes and is a friend of the power of ‘purchase.
In reality, it’s just the fight between two worlds that each aspire to the biggest possible profit. The first is that of the telcos. Historically, its model is to manage to obtain licenses and to earn money fairly quickly by financing the deployment of new infrastructures with the profits already made. And his method is to lower prices when he is constrained and forced by competition and regulation.
The Wave model
Faced with this world of monopoly or oligopoly imposed by regulations and the impossibility of infinitely multiplying physical infrastructures that are expensive and time-consuming to install, stands that of the start-ups of Silicon Valley. Its asset, its strength, is to raise a lot of money by promising to “disrupt” a market, that is to say to change its rules by taking historical players by surprise and by imposing itself in leader.
His weapon is cash. A lot of cash, raised on financial markets watered in recent years by central banks, including the Central Bank of the United States. And what the Wave bosses did was use that money to initially subsidize outlets they needed to “hack” the system and take market share from the incumbents.
They did what start-ups stuffed with new money do: lose money initially to grow their market share and then rationalize to pay for themselves and earn enough to resell with a huge capital gain.
“Consumer and worker are one, if we look at the ‘big picture’
Where Orange Money and MTN Money made money on cash-in and cash-out and shared the objective service value thus created with the POS, Wave renounces extracting value from cash-out while the operation is not free for the start-up (just to destabilize the competition and force it to destroy value and ultimately its business model) but is made up for on transfers, i.e. all operations within its internal ecosystem which does not cost it much.
Its interest is to have electronic money adopted by as many merchants as possible and to gradually render useless those who have made it king: the points of sale. Like Uber, whose secret dream was to create the autonomous car and get rid of VTC drivers. When you look at it this way, you see a confrontation between big firms and small workers.
And if we are clever, we realize that the balance of power that is imposed today at points of sale may be imposed on us tomorrow in our own economic sector. A few decades ago, when Western multinationals went to manufacture their textile products in China or Bangladesh, it helped workers who worked in other sectors and then themselves saw their activities relocated and their economic utility evaporate. . The consumer and the worker are one, if we look at the “big picture”. Let’s be vigilant! “