College Mankon student, says the school decided to change the payment methods to increase security.
“At the PTA meeting, we the parents were informed that the bandits were arrested and some of the stolen money recovered,” he says. “The school administration announced that hence school fees will be paid into the school bank account to avoid the inconvenience of parents queuing up at the school premises to pay school fees.”
The police official says that some schools and institutions have arranged for parents to make the financial transactions at banks to increase security. Parents then submit the receipts for these transactions to the schools.
But he says that robbers can still take advantage of this system.
“Again, you have thousands of students at a bank with cash in hand waiting for hours and sometimes days to pay fees,” he says.
In rural schools, some parents pay school fees using other systems, Awasom says. For example, they may bring the equivalent of tuition in foodstuff.
Nkwi says people in villages bury their money in their yards, farms or ceilings to keep it safe. He references one woman in Boyo, in the Northwest region in Cameroon, who lost all her money this way.
“She recounted to me how she hid her money in a ridge in her farm and later forgot which particular ridge the money was hidden in,” Nkwi says. “She searched for long, and when she finally found the money, it had been eaten by ants.”
The police official says he is surprised that, despite frequent reports of theft and robbery during recent months, people still carry huge amounts of cash.
Nkwi says that going cashless is a foreign concept in Cameroon. Historically, physical trading powered the economy.
“The cash economy to which we have been subjected to for the past hundred or so years is still strange to some Cameroonians,” Nkwi says. “Our mentality still needs to change.”
He says that people used to barter in order to obtain the goods they needed. They then transitioned to using cowries and shells of land snails to trade. European colonization – first by Germany during the 19th century then by the British and French after World War I – introduced money in Cameroon.
“Commercial banks are now on the scene,” Nkwi says, “and our public is reticent to fully embrace the services they offer, especially the cashless ones.”
Nadine Tchinda, 25, a graduate from the Government Teacher Training College in Bamenda, says there was a buzz about credit cards a few years ago, and most people touted the advantages of cashless operations. She bought a credit card from a company that advertised and sold the cards, but it never worked.
“I don’t know what went wrong,” Tchinda says. “I still have the credit card, which I have never used, and I don’t just bother about all the cashless service options that banks advertise.”
Tchinda says she avoids using the ATM at her bank, as sometimes services aren’t available