What about EBICS in Morocco?

The rise of EBICS in Europe hardly needs to be demonstrated any longer. But what about its development outside the borders of the European Union? There is one continent that to me seems perfectly suited to the adoption of a modern, high-performing and universal protocol for final flow exchanges such as EBICS: Africa. To be more precise, Morocco is the first place I think of, for reasons explained below.

For a long time now, banks and financial institutions in Morocco have taken their inspiration from European banking practices; to be more precise, from French banking practices. Then, in the 1990s, Moroccan banks joined forces with French banks in choosing the ETEBAC protocol for telematic exchanges between businesses and banks, thus offering Moroccan businesses the option of implementing efficient cash management solutions.

All the same, the exchange formats used by the Moroccan banking industry have been greatly inspired by the CFONB formats, whether it comes to account statements or transfers and debits.
The ETEBAC protocol is still being used in Morocco. However, it works on X28 via private PADs and businesses must use asynchronous analogue modems, which are becoming more and more scarce. It is therefore becoming almost impossible to increase the number of businesses using ETEBAC. The proposed replacements are:
  • Internet banking, which is not suitable for businesses with multiple banking relationships or with a large volume of transactions;
  • SWIFT, which incurs significant and repeated additional charges;
  • other lesser-used protocols such as PeSIT, which will not satisfy future requirements.
Morocco’s legal framework with regard to digital exchange of information and the protection thereof would indicate in favour of the adoption of data exchange protocols secured by means of electronic signature(s). This will offer bank transactions with the required security functions such as authentication, unalterability and integrity, privacy, no signature repetition and no repudiation. These are offered as standard by the EBICS protocol.

Moroccan banks, which are pioneers in Africa and which are present in 22 countries on that continent, need reliable, proven systems for transferring financial information between banks and across borders to ensure, among other things, that Morocco becomes a bank transfer hub capable of managing a maximum number of transactions in a secure and modern manner. EBICS is the right protocol to achieve this.

What is more, EBICS will not only allow the existing range of services to businesses to be fleshed out; it will also be a real opportunity for innovation for Moroccan banks, who will be able to use it to open up new services (such as e-invoicing).

And let us not forget two other usage areas where EBICS would be perfect:
  1. It is already used in Europe for domestic inter-bank transfers to great satisfaction. Moroccan financial institutions would be able to do the same, which would give them the ability to improve the resilience and the high degree of availability of these inter-bank exchanges and, additionally, to optimise the costs thereof.
  2. It may be used for data transfer for governmental digitisation projects, with regard in particular to social, medical and inter-service data.
Given what I have said, the EBICS protocol, which – as all readers of the blog will note – is spreading rapidly in Europe thanks to its universality, its ease of deployment, its high level of security and the absence of recurring costs, would seem to me to be an alternative choice for business-to-bank and bank-to-bank transfers. If, furthermore, the adoption of the ISO 20022 standard were to be considered by Moroccan banks, a great step would have been taken towards harmonisation and standardisation of financial flow exchanges which would also bring simplification and optimisation of transactions with Europe. This point seems to me to be particularly important, as the proximity of Morocco to the European continent has benefited the Moroccan economy due to the fact that the country has been able to profit from many relocations of European companies.

The question of migrating to EBICS thus arises. Would this be such a complex project that it could constitute an obstacle to adopting the protocol? If we think back to how the migration happened in France, I don’t think so. The experience gained when that happened, not only by software programmers for banks and companies, but also by the French banks that operate in Morocco, would be proof of a “soft” migration without the risk of having to be “guinea pigs”.

Marc Dutech


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