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Circulars related to the payment institution status have been published recently by Al-Maghrib Bank and specifies the details of implementation of the “banking law” dated 5 March 2015 in Morocco.  

The points of convergence between Morocco and France appear now more specifically with regard to the operating principles of a payment account and to the requirements concerning the payment institutions authorized to operate this account.

In terms of the operation principle of a payment account, three points must be emphasised:

  1. Every opening of a payment account leads to the issuance of an account number, whose characteristics are determined by the central bank and allows performing scriptural money transactions.
  2. A payment account may not at any time present a debit position.
  3. « Funds transfer transactions » consisting in Morocco receiving funds from abroad as well as sending funds abroad, fall under the scope of payment services and come within the new payment institution status, like « funds transmission services» constituting a payment service, according to the definition of the French monetary and financial code.

On the approval conditions of a payment institution, the regulation of both countries requires the following:

  • The isolation of payment institution clients funds, no later than the working day following the day on which they were received, on an account opened in a credit institution that meets the following characteristics:
    • Present a balance corresponding to the sum of balances of the range of payment accounts held by the payment institution.
    • Benefit from the permanent access to the individual allocation per payment account.
    • Identify differently the restricted account unlike any other account opened by the payment institution, through a title mentioning the assignment of the sums deposited.
  • The introduction of an internal control system adapted to the nature, the complexity and the activity volume.
  • An adequate measure to fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • An information system enabling the transactions registering and processing in real time and ensuring the following:
    • A perfect Traceability of executed services and collected funds.
    • A position keeping of the payment accounts range opened in its books.
    • Fraud and intrusion risks prevention.

At the end, as in France, the Moroccan payment institutions can mandate individuals or companies, in order to offer, under their responsibility and on their behalf, the payment services for which they have been authorised.

However, setting up a maximum threshold while carrying out the activities of a payment institution, constitutes a major difference between the BAM circulars and the transposal into the French monetary and financial code in the 1st Directive related to the Payment Services.

Therefore, by derogation to the obligation of vigilance incumbent upon the payment institutions, the Moroccan regulation provides a modulation of requirements in terms of identifying the payment account holder, according to 3 levels of payment account credit balance:

  1. Credit balance must not exceed 200 dirhams (about 19 €): the presentation of a mobile telephony national number is enough.
  2. Credit balance must not exceed 5 000 dirhams (about 474 €) : it is necessary to fill in the account opening form in the name of the holder supported by a copy of the valid official identity document, including the holder’s photograph .
  3. Credit balance must not exceed 20 000 dirhams (about 1 894 €): to the account opening form in which the identity is supported by an official identity document, a proof of address is added.

In the same time, if the French legislation defines that a payment instrument can be considered dedicated to low amounts, provided to limit the carrying out of unitary payment transactions to 30 € or within an expenditure ceiling of 150 € or with a maximum credit balance of 150 € (see decree n°2009-934 dated 29 July 2009), it does not fix a limit to the credit balance of a payment account.

In case of a payment instrument dedicated to the payment of low amounts, the French regulation does not influence the know-your-client requirements but the framework contract of payment services must clearly precise the limitations set out.

In case of funds transfer transactions suggested by a payment institution in Morocco, this maximum threshold is fixed at 80 000 dirhams equivalent to 7 581 €.

The Moroccan approach increases the need to take into consideration, in the payment account parameters, different ceilings introduced, which are at the end « products » to be offered by the authorized payment institutions, responding to the different usage cases.

In the end, the numerous convergence points observed between the Moroccan and French laws lead us to think that the experience acquired by the payment institutions and electronic money since the end of 2009 in France, in the context of the DSP 1, seems to be a useful contribution for the success of the initiatives which will no doubt arise in Morocco in the coming months.