The bank of issue is the Bank of the Central African States (Banque des États de l'Afrique Central-BEAC), which replaced the Central Bank of the State of Equatorial Africa and Cameroon in November 1972. Its headquarters are in Yaoundé. In 1993, member states of the BEAC created a supranational supervisory authority, Commission Bancaire de l'Afrique Centrale (COBAC) in order to secure the region's banking system. The government's Exchange Control Office controls all financial transactions effected between Cameroon and foreign territories.
Cameroon's banking system consisted of nine commercial banks with 60 branches in 1999. The major commercial banks, all with important foreign participation, were the Amity Bank, Banque Internationale du Cameroun pour l'Epargne et le Credit (the last bank to be privatized, in 1999), Caisse Commune d'Epargne et d'Investissement, Commercial Bank of Cameroon, Citibank, Societe General de Banque au Cameroun, Standard Chartered Bank, and the Societe Commerciale de Banque Credit Lyonnais-Cameroun. There was also a savings bank and a postal bank. Informal savings and loan systems known as tontines take the place of banks for many tribal members, with repayment enforced by social pressure.
The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand deposits—an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $971.3 million. In that same year, M2—an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $1.6 billion. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 6.5%.
In April 2003 the Douala Stock Exchange was declared open for business by Cameroon's prime minister Peter Mufany Musonge, although no exact date was given for the start of trading or the number of companies that will be listed. Cameroon has been criticized for a lack of transparincy in its economic institutions and observers question whether the exchange will perform to international standards. The recently privatized electricity company, AES Sonel, is expected to be one of the first companies listed on the exchange when 5% of its shares are offered for sale to its employees; a sale required by an agreement between the company and the government.