Morocco - FinTech and Startups landscape (yes, there is much more there than camels :))
Recently I went for a short trip to Marrakesh. While staying in this beautiful city, I had a chance to observe not only different culture, but also different business approach. Different to EU, however similar to other African countries, especially neighbouring the country.
Let's start from the beginning, means what actually is the potential in Morocco, and what is the economical situation in the country. I backed the post with a data prepared by YINKA OPANEYE in his special report for The FinTechTimes
With a GDP of $120 million, the Moroccan economy is considered the strongest economy in Africa according to the African Development Bank.
The service sector dominates the Moroccan economy, contributing around 55% of GDP.
Moroccan financial services sector has the highest ranked global financial centre in Africa (2017), and according to the latest financial system stability assessment conducted by the IMF its banks remain well-regulated and sufficiently capitalised.
Banks, monitored by the Central Bank of Morocco (Bank Al Maghreb – BAM), account for nearly half of the country’s financial system.
Of the 19 banks, the top three are responsible for over two-thirds of all bank assets and deposits. These are:
La Banque Populaire du Maroc and
La Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur
which account for 25%, 24% and 12.7% of the market respectively.
Within the past ten years (from 2007), the level of bank penetration jumped from 43 to 63 percent and the rate of bank density (branches per 10,000 residents) increased by 50%.
Since 2007, BAM has been making discernible efforts to improve financial inclusion. In 2014, it developed a new framework (No. 103-12) published in the Journal Officiel in March 2017 (Banking Law).
Crypto standpoint in Morocco
Within the realm of cryptocurrencies (have to add since the topic is so close to my heart), Morocco is following a similar route to its African neighbours in its slightly sceptic treatment of the instrument. As recently as November 2017, The Exchange Office banned Bitcoin and issued stiff threats aimed at cryptocurrency enthusiasts in the country.
According to the governor of BAM, Abdellatif El Jouahri, Bitcoin fails to meet the three criteria required to define it as a currency:
be a means of payment,
a store of value and an
instrument of saving.
This interdiction came nearly one week after the announcement of accepting Bitcoin payment by Morocco Trade and Development Services (MTDS), the country’s first interview provider. It means MTDS now only accepts Bitcoin payment only from foreign customers.
Startups in Morocco
So, what startups Morocco has? Below my Top7. Would you add anything to the list?
And above - picture of a product by listed below Eco-Dome. Kind of cool - right?
Hooplacar is an out-of-home (OOH) advertising startup that matches advertisers with Moroccan citizens who have volunteered to wrap their cars in ads for a fee. Rather than paying for a billboard that people only see when riding by that location, advertisers can pay to have their ads zip around town on cars. By increasing the supply of OOH placements, the cost to advertise decreases and allows for more small businesses to be able to advertise. Hooplacar tracks GPS to ensure drivers are active enough and advertisers are getting their money’s worth.
Hmizate.ma is the leading group-buying website with a focus on travel that offers discounted deals to Moroccan consumers on a regular basis. They aggregate active coupons for restaurants, hotels, ticketed events, tours, and shopping boutiques. Hmizate’s success is dependent on (and reflective of) the Moroccan consumer’s willingness to shop online. Morrocans have habitually been more likely to pay bills online than shop for everyday goods and services. As a result, it’s clear that Hmizate is targeting both local Moroccans and visitors to Morocco due to the bend toward travel-related deals.
Jobi.ma uses technology to connect employers and qualified job-seekers automatically, based on complex matching and profiling algorithms. Recruiters post a job and automatically see a list of qualified candidates based on predictive analytics of those candidates’ profiles. Candidates do not need to login and apply for the job; they only need to maintain a strong profile. Jobi’s algorithms alert candidates of viewing activity on their profile, acting as feedback to job seekers so they can improve their profiles.
Relatively new to the start-up landscape, Maria Noufsani started Artinoo to bridge the gap between artisans working in Morocco – leather smiths, thuya woodcarvers, potters and more – and the international community online. By providing the modern marketing know-how, Noufsani is taking the product to the client rather than having the artisans wait for tourists in the souks, especially important in a time when there is a decline in tourism numbers. With social engagement at the heart of the enterprise, Noufsani hopes to not only provide fair wages and safe working conditions, but to increase the respect for the artisans who choose to work with their hands rather than technology or in office settings.
Tayeb Sbihi and Ali Echihabi co-founded iTaxi, a taxi booking application, to help customers book their taxi in advance and track their taxi’s arrival via the application. The duo selected drivers based on their attitude and the type of car. But the cab drivers benefit as well, with customers paying an additional fee for the service and an alert sent to taxi drivers when a request comes in from a nearby customer.
Taxis are often given a negative image, so the team behind itaxi.ma had to prove to customers that the service is safe (customers are provided with their driver’s phone number, car type, and taxi number). From the driver’s side, the developers established a streamlined payment method whereby drivers have a prepaid account and, every time they accept a customer request, itaxi takes its commission from their balance. Once their balance is at zero, they have to refill their account otherwise they can receive no trips.
However, people were not comfortable using an app. So the team introduced a call center that facilitated customer accessibility, while still allowing drivers to receive requests via the app by using its mapping system to reach a customer’s location.
For their efforts, Sbihi and Echibabi have received the Microsoft 4Afrika innovation grant.
6. Eco-Dome Maroc
Eco-Dome Maroc offers sustainable, stable and cheaper construction methods in Morocco. The building sector consumes around 30% of Morocco’s scarce energy resources, so most people cannot afford to construct new homes. Eco-Dome fills bags with rammed earth, attaching sequential layers of bags with barbed wire to create structures equipped with water and electricity. Though it sounds gruesome, the structures have an attractive design aesthetic in addition to being cheaper for home-builders and better for the environment than reinforced concrete.
DabaDoc connects doctors and patients more efficiently with a search-and-book platform. DabaDoc allows instant doctor appointment bookings, waiting time ratings, and quality of care ratings for all doctors. It is the largest online booking platform for doctors in Africa, with more than one million patients and thousands of doctors.
For a more detailed report on fintech across the continent, please read free report: Exploring African fintech. List of Morrocan startups can be tracked here.