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Top 200 African Banks: Morocco’s Attijariwafa shows its digital agility

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Banking Africa

By Fahd Iraqi
Posted on Friday, 22 October 2021 17:22, updated on Tuesday, 2 November 2021 11:24

HQ of Attijariwafa bank in Casablanca, Morocco. © Hassan Ouazzani for JAMG

Five years ago, Attijariwafa Bank (AWB), the leading bank in Morocco, set the tone: the group’s ambition was to position itself as ‘the top customer-­centred bank, focused on satisfying the needs of its clients [by] taking advantage of new technologies linked to digitalisation’. With 27 major programmes and 105 projects, its strategic plan ‘Energies 2020’ put the emphasis on digital technologies.

At this time, the bank set up an entity called Wenov dedicated to digital and entrepreneurial innovation, incorporating WeLab, a technological laboratory. In mid-2021, AWB’s management announced that this facility had led to collaborations with 120 startups.

In 2019, the group integrated a digital centre into the information systems department to develop its products and processes. This centre brings together around 250 people and operates on the basis of ‘agile’ methods, a multidisciplinary approach and a lighter methodological framework. The idea is for the Moroccan giant, which has more than 20,000 employees, to become more flexible.

While the bank remains somewhat conservative, and some of its smaller competitors, such as CIH Bank and CFG Bank, are also working on digital technology, AWB has made a fundamental effort to modernise all its business lines, including insurance products.

“In this respect, it is ahead of its Moroccan rivals, Banque Centrale Populaire and BMCE Bank of Africa, and is closing the gap that could separate it on the continent from an international bank such as Société Générale,” says Yoann Lhonneur, director of Devlhon Consulting.

In 2020, AWB recorded 12 million customer logins per month, up 60% in one year. It also claims pole position in Morocco for the number of transactions integrating electronic payments, with 39% of this market in 2020.

Facial recognition

AWB’s 100% digital bank, L’bankalik, launched in 2016, illustrates this trend. In a service launched in February, “opening an account is now done through a simple ­selfie, using the latest technology in facial recognition and electronic signatures,” says a bank executive.

Across AWB, four out of five transactions by clients are now carried out via digital channels. The digital strategy, using big data, has also made it possible to refine loan applications. Between 2014 and 2020, the number of ­decision-making strategies and scores increased from five to 20. The group is currently working to ensure that all subsidiaries can use these tools.

This digitalisation will continue throughout the implementation of its 2021-2025 strategic plan. The challenge for the group is to improve its operational efficiency, with its branch network and the increase in operating costs pulling down its results.

This is part of our print edition dossier on Africa’s top 200 banks

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