Bank Al-Maghrib

Law n° 103.12 on credit establishments and assimilated bodies that was first passed in November 2014 and called “Banking law” was published in the Official bulletin N° 6328 (Arab Version) and N° 6340 (French Version) on March 5th, 2015.

Moroccan banks and more generally financial intermediaries wishing to operate in Morocco were waiting the text publication in the Official Bulletin to initiate the creation of their subsidiaries dedicated to micro-credit, participative finance and payment.

Bank Al-Maghrib, Morocco’s central bank, prepared the draft implementation decrees that will be released in the very near future.
Henceforth, a few convergence points can be noted between the new Moroccan text and the transposition into French law of the European directive on payment services entered into force on November 1st, 2009.

In fact, the new banking law complements the scope of payment methods application by adding the e-money “defined as a money value representing a debt on the issuer being stored on an electronic device, issued in exchange for the settlement of funds of an amount which value is not less than the issued money value and accepted as a payment mean by third parties other than the e-money issuer”.

Thus, the new banking law gives rise to a new category of bodies assimilated to credit establishments designated as “payment establishments” and defined as “those offering one or more payment services that also can apply Forex transactions in accordance with the legislative and regulatory provisions in force”.

The text even develops what is considered as payment services notably “the execution of permanent or single withdrawals, payment transactions by card and the execution of transfers when they are related to funds placed on a payment account”, as well as what is meant by the payment account itself, i.e. “an account held in the name of a payment service user which is used exclusively for payment transactions.

Finally, the article 17 of the same text defines the ring-fencing conditions for a credit establishment authorized to receive sight deposits, and funds deposited to payment accounts.

Even if not all implementation decrees were enacted, the new Moroccan banking law presents, a priori,  a large number of similarities with the French Monetary and Financial Code, which has seen the emergence, since  2009, of 41 payment establishments and 4 e-money establishment accredited by the ACPR (Prudential Control and Resolution Authority) (identified on January 1st, 2015).

However, it has a significant difference: the new Moroccan banking law does not provide any status dedicated to the creation and management of e-money.

Although the text does not establish a direct semantic link between “e-money” and “payment service”, the e-money establishment status not being retained by Moroccan authorities leads us to think that the “payment method stored on an electronic device” is considered as a payment service and that its issuance and management are eligible to the payment establishment status, as in France.

The operational impacts for candidates to this new status are numerous in order to achieve compliance with the law since day one. At this point, 3 types of information are available:

  • Ensure permanent “reconciliation” between funds placed on payment accounts and funds ring-fenced in an accredited credit institution.

Crediting any amount to the payment account must simultaneously result in a transfer of the same amount to the ring-fencing account, which “elusive” funds are allocated to the reimbursement to payment accounts holders, in case of the payment establishment liquidation procedure. This imposes a perfect trackability of collected funds and an information system interfaced with the partner credit institution system.

  • Guarantee, on each use of the issued e-money, that the “funds settlement” counterparty is not less than this remittance.

This requires from the payment establishment an actual enquiry of the payment accounts real-time position, regardless of the used payment instrument, which is currently feasible by the technologies evolution, specifically for cards.

  • Ensure steering via the setup of a general accounting and internal control device adapted to the payment establishment risks.

Thus, the payment establishments are required to provide the Moroccan central bank, Bank Al-Maghrib, with their summary reports established on an individual, consolidated or sub-consolidated basis (according to its capitalistic links with an enterprise which head office is in Morocco), accompanied by their auditors report.

Therefore, it seems that the experience acquired in France the last years by the payment establishments can be precious to the Moroccan payment establishment candidates, to avoid falling into traps and rely on proven technical and organizational solutions.

For example, the Compagnie de l’Arc Atlantique (C2A), second accredited institution in France, that issues a payment account (linked to a card) addressed to lorry drivers, offered to road haulage companies such as business expenses card, encountered interfacing difficulties between its information system and the ring-fencing account holding establishment.

The Financière des Paiements électroniques (FPE) that launched the Compte-Nickel account in February 2014, addressed to individual clients, recorded the opening of 85 000 accounts during its first year of operation. It was led to manage a large volume of card authorization requests in real time, larger than its expectations, with very high application availability and without response time degradation.

They both rely on SAB Group applications, to which they access in outsourcing or SaaS mode; modes perfectly adapted to payment establishment business models and organizations. These modes enable the new entrants to limit the impact of IT investments’ costs (licenses, recurrent charges), on their business plan and to fully concentrate on launching their new activity.