British business intelligence firm Oxford Business Group (OBG) highlighted the digital transformation of financial services in Morocco, while listing the countless benefits of the sector as well as the challenges it faces.

In a 24-page report, prepared in partnership with the Centre Monétique Interbancaire (CMI) and the Moroccan bank CFG Bank, OBG provided an overview of the Moroccan financial services sector, focusing in particular on developments in financial technology and the catalytic effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the sector.

In addition to a general overview of the current situation of the financial sector in Morocco, illustrated by key figures of the different segments of the sector, such as banking, stock exchange or insurance, this report presents analyses and interviews conducted with personalities of the sector such as Wali Bank Al-Maghrib, Abdellatif Jouahri and the CEO of CMI, Mikael Naciri.

The report stressed that the creation of a fully digital financial environment is an important objective in Morocco’s strategy to become more competitive and transform into a leading financial centre in the region.

Indeed, the Moroccan central bank Bank Al-Maghrib (BAM) has been working for several years on the promotion and development of electronic payment methods. It has also included the development and emergence of Fintechs among the pillars of its 2019-2022 digital strategy, according to the report.

“It was clear from the beginning that the pandemic would have a significant economic and social impact. Consequently, Bank Al Maghrib (BAM) activated all the instruments at its disposal and implemented several measures aimed at ensuring access to financing, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” said Jouahri quoted in the report.

He noted that “the measures adopted by the Economic Monitoring Committee – which was set up in March 2020 and comprises the Ministry of Finance, BAM, the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises and the Moroccan Banking Association, among others – have made it possible to considerably relax financing conditions for companies and households.”

For his part, Naciri said in a similar statement that “Morocco has the technical and technological infrastructure needed for the development of new payment methods in compliance with international standards,” adding that “legislative reforms and efforts by Bank Al Maghrib, the country’s central bank, have made it possible to create an ecosystem that connects all banks and payment institutions. This ensures the complete interoperability of transactions”.

He underlined that “more financial education and awareness is necessary for higher levels of financial inclusion to be realised. New payment institutions have been authorised to reach out to those that are financially excluded and try to bring them into the formal sector”.

The report also pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic was a transitional moment for digital and internet payments, which increased significantly, noting that online payments recorded a 30% growth in the first half of 2020 while contactless payments grew by 700% in the same period.