Abderrahman El Andaloussi talks, among others, about the digital strategy of Bank of Africa (BOA), the impact of the Covid crisis, the future of financial services in Africa and gives advices for tech companies which would like to penetrate the African market.

Abderrahman EI Andaloussi joined Bank of Africa in 2017, he is currently Strategy Deputy Director of the Group. BOA is a fast-growing Pan African Bank, created in 1982 in Mali, now based in 15 countries across the continent and owned by Group BMCE one of the top leading banking group in Morocco.

Prior to BOA, he spent 6 years as a manager in Valyans Consulting in Casablanca, a Moroccan strategic consulting firm, where he used to lead several strategic and organizational missions for both private and public sector in Morocco and Ivory Coast. Abderrahman El Andaloussi  is an alumnus of Audencia Business School in Nantes, France, and OSU Fisher College of Business, in Columbus Ohio, USA (MSc Finance).

How does the bank adapt its digital strategy to answer the specific needs of the different countries where it is implemented?

Abderrahman El Andaloussi : Group Bank Of Africa has banks in 17 countries in Africa, we operate in three areas: West Africa, Central Africa and East Africa (not to mention Madagascar, which is one of our largest markets). The main teaching is not to replicate a model from one country to another. Talking about one African market is a misnomer because we operate in many heterogeneous markets inside Africa.

The key answer to address the specific needs for each market is to rely on experimented local staff that understand their markets, to operate a continuous competitive intelligence and to structure IT capacities to be able to deliver different tools for different markets.

Did the Covid crisis be a trigger for some countries to develop their user experience? Did it impact the BOA at some points and if so, how?

A. E. A. : The Covid crisis contributed to the rise of our digital business because for many weeks it was the only channel our customers could use. Our digital operations stepped up as the crisis allowed us to work on a new user experience that minimize the customers’ physical presence inside the branch. During this period, our IT teams also achieved the development of our new in-house mobile banking solution that will replace the old one by the end of the year.

Finally, it gave us time to think about our ability to support the acceleration of equipment and usage of our digital channels. During 2020, our security teams took the opportunity of the crisis to test the robustness and flexibility of our safety devices and finalized implementation of security solutions for card management and online transactions.

Mobile payments have revolutionized financial services in Africa. What will be, according to you, the next disrupter for the banking industry? (AI? Blockchain? Digital currencies? Others?)

A. E. A. : There is a proliferation of start-up initiatives in Casablanca, Dakar, Abidjan, Lagos, Nairobi and Johannesburg. All these actors are working on the next «leapfrog» to become the future African unicorn. I sincerely believe that the next big innovation will come from Artificial Intelligence because we are today, even in the most advanced banks worldwide, in the infancy of this technology. But it will also bring up the issue of data confidentiality, as AI constantly flirts with the confidentiality that we owe to customers. So I would say that the next “leapfrog” will come from the “fintech” which will create an AI that brings value to both the institution and the customer while processing their data responsibly.

How does BOA contribute to support innovation and entrepreneurship?

A. E. A. : At the heart of our digital transformation, there is a In House layer developed by our teams that allows us to scale up for our subsidiaries but also to work more efficiently with third part providers. 

For instance, for our Internet banking, we have worked hard to develop a unique solution for all our countries and thanks to our middleware, it is now possible to quickly develop, deliver and deploy new services on it simultaneously for all our subsidiaries.

This Middleware has also been built to allows the integration of new channels and services from fintechs directly to all our subsidiaries. We truly believe in collaboration with startups & fintechs, because we are convinced that a part of the services we propose to our customers are not our specialty and we prefer to delegate it to experts. We support innovation and fintechs by continuously meeting them in our different geographies, and each time there is a match between their line of work and our needs we collaborate to benefit from their expertise and quickness.

What is the main asset to think about for a tech company which would like to penetrate the African market?

A. E. A. : The main asset would be not to replicate European solutions in Africa, but to think about African markets needs and propose an original answer that fits the customer expectation by using an existing technology. This is a key point to succeed in Africa because most countries in the continent are not following European countries stages of development but rather find shortcuts to catch up as quickly as possible. Bringing a technology that succeeded in developed economies will not systematically be a match for African Market.

Second point is to take into consideration that African countries have less important investment capacities from institutions and less purchasing power from customers. Hence tech companies that would like to penetrate the African Market should think about different business models, especially revenue sharing models, that will scale-up in time and lead both tech companies and institutions to win-win situations.

Abderrahman EI Andaloussi was a speaker at ICT Spring 2020.

Next September 14th and 15th, more than 100 international experts will participate in a new edition of ICT Spring, the renowned tech summit. The event, organized since 2010, will take place at the European Convention Center Luxembourg. More information HERE and registration HERE.

Publié le 22 juin 2021