West African CFA franc_flag

West African CFA franc

The West African CFA franc, represented by the currency code XOF, is the official currency used in the eight West African countries that form the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU): Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. The Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) issues and manages the West African CFA franc.

The West African CFA franc was introduced in 1945, at the end of World War II, in the French colonies of West Africa. The CFA stands for "Communauté Financière Africaine" (African Financial Community).

Convertible:Yes, but liquidity is extremely poor


Exchange rate regime:Pegged to EUR (historically to the French franc)

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BCEAO Monetary Policy


The main objective of the Central Bank of West African States' (BCEAO) monetary policy is to maintain price stability and ensure the external stability of the West African CFA franc. The currency is pegged to the Euro at a fixed exchange rate under a monetary cooperation agreement with the French Treasury.


The BCEAO's monetary policy operations include open market operations, standing facilities, and minimum reserve requirements for banks. Through these instruments, the BCEAO manages liquidity in the banking system and controls inflation.


The West African CFA franc is subdivided into 100 centimes. Coins are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 500 francs, while banknotes come in denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 francs.


XOF banknotes feature images that represent the cultural and economic activities of the region. The design also includes advanced security features to prevent counterfeiting.


The West African CFA franc is often discussed among financial experts due to its unique characteristics. The fixed exchange rate with the Euro and the monetary cooperation with France are key points of interest.


While the peg to the Euro provides exchange rate stability and low inflation, some experts argue that it may limit the region's ability to respond to economic shocks and competitiveness issues. The ongoing debate about the future of the CFA franc system, including proposals for reforms, is a key point of interest for experts.


The BCEAO is responsible for the regulation of the West African CFA franc. It oversees monetary policy, manages foreign exchange reserves, and ensures the stability of the financial system in the WAEMU region.


The BCEAO also implements measures to prevent financial crimes, including robust Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations that financial institutions must comply with.

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Important information

Payments in XOF to West Africa

Key considerations to bear in mind


Payment instructions should contain the beneficiary's IBAN, name, and address.


Payment Processing Time

The time taken for a payment to reach the recipient's bank account can vary. Domestic transfers within West Africa are typically processed quickly, while international transfers may take a few business days. Consider the processing time when planning your payment to ensure timely delivery. The iBanFirst Payment Tracker can help you track those payments, and ensure a smooth and efficient payment experience.


Fees and Charges

Banks and financial institutions may apply fees and charges when processing international payments. These fees can vary, so it is advisable to check with your bank to understand the charges associated with your transaction. Check out iBanFirst’s Savings Calculator to estimate how much you could save on your next international payment.

Keep in mind

Bank holidays

Please note that public holidays can vary significantly between the eight countries using the XOF. Each country observes a variety of national holidays, and religious holidays like Easter and Eid are also widely celebrated. Here are some of the common public holidays observed across the WAEMU region:



New Year's Day



Labour Day



Christmas Day

Independence Day

Dates vary from country to country


Currency Reference Guide

Get the full currency reference guide, updated by the iBanFirst currency market experts.

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