Moroccan banks have gained both notoriety and market share by catering services to people across Africa who have been ignored by other banks. The Director-General of one of Morocco’s largest banks writes about how this effort can sometimes run into surprising social stigmas:
In 2008, when my company, Attijariwafa Bank, the largest financial institution in Morocco, looked to address one of the most underserved areas in retail banking in the country – that of providing financial services for low-income customers – we never expected it would be the monthly bank statement that would put people off signing up for their first account.
Most people without bank accounts were looking for solutions to save money, not to borrow. Families were looking for health insurance and savings products to pay for their children’s education. They also explained why, despite living near several bank branches, they hadn’t walked into one before: they were turned off by their fancy appearance, and thought they were not for “people like them”.
Marble, glass, modern furniture and lighting, bright colors, computers on all desks, anonymous advisers and tellers who weren’t from their neighbourhood and abided by a strict business dress code, seemed very intimidating. Those who knew more about banking services said that the fees were too high, despite our basic banking fees being below £1 per month, including free checkbooks…[FULL STORY]