I recently decided to take a look at what's going on in the cards industry in some of the French speaking countries of Western Africa. The Cartes Afrique conference, which takes place in Tunis over the next two days, is thus a good opportunity to meet people, and find out what's on the local banks' mind and to-do list.
In preparing for the trip, I had a look at card statistics in both Morocco and Tunisia, and I found at least a couple of issues that should be on their minds (and on the conference agenda as well, for that matter). One is card issuing, full stop, and the other is card usage.
The card industry in both countries seem to be suffering from the same problem as quite a few markets in the world, namely consumers' preference for cash and checks. Not only is card payments a minuscule part of the overall use of payment tools (0,2% of total payments in Morocco, for example), but even when a card is used, 9 out of 10 times it is to withdraw cash.
It leads me to believe that the local banks probably should focus even harder on getting more cards out in the market in the first place, and secondly, driving cardholders to pay with cards for purchases instead of using cash. And there is probably also opportunities to increase card acceptance significantly as well, although I haven't gotten to that piece of the puzzle yet.
And what about the corporate market? I would guess that there is a large number of companies that would need a card solution to pay for travel and other business expenses, similar to what we see in other markets across the world? I would not be the least surprised.
There is work to be done in this part of the world as well, in other words.
I will keep you posted!