African banks: Digital evolution that serves at the Development


To face the new market players and support the growth of the sector, African banks adapt now to digital. Strongly anchored in the habits, the mobile makes it possible to build this link. The proximity and necessary trust between the customers and their bank.

1The banking market in Africa

The rate of African banks is still low. The estimation is between 10 to 20% depending on the country of the continent. However, the financial market evolved at a steady and steady pace of 11% per annum between 2012 and 2017. And it still has significant development prospects in the years to come. It can expect an annual market growth of 8.5% up to 2022, the fastest pace in the world.

This growth will notably be encouraged by the emergence of the middle classes. While less than 20% of current customers of African banks hold products such as loans or insurance. This population will increasingly use these offers.

2The premises of mobile banking

While traditional African banks are still little adopted, Africa, relies on fully digital and mobile offers for many years.

The mobile money is an electronic wallet attached to the telephone number. This is based on texts, allowing coverage on almost the entire territory. This type of service allows the clients to perform all its operations (transfer of money, payment of bills, etc …) from a mobile.

These African banks’ offers were launched in the mid-2000s and there are now more than 100 million active mobile money accounts in Africa. With their market coverage and customer base, telecom operators were the first to successfully develop these offerings.

Since mobile money is not associated with a traditional bank account, customers using these services are not considered bank accounts. The use of mobile money can explain the low traditional banking rate. And it reveals that customers used to financial systems different from traditional banks.

3The mobile, a key channel for the African banks

Mobile banking is a newer trend that differs from mobile money. It defines all online African banks’ services accessible from a smartphone. Unlike mobile money, this service is linked to holding a bank account (and requires a mobile internet connection). While it is estimated that the continent includes 350 million active smartphones and network coverage will be accessible by 60% of subscribers in 2020, mobile banking will grow in the coming years.

These advances represent an opportunity for traditional African banks. It develops mobile banking services, and reach unbanked customers who have previously used mobile money. Banks have to deal with new players capitalizing on this mobile habit for banking transactions.

International companies such as telecom operators and FinTech companies are developing mobile banking offerings and encouraging banking. Faced with these innovations, traditional banks have no choice but to innovate to remain competitive.

4Digital strengthens the link of customers with the African banks

african bank

One of the peculiarities of the banking sector in Africa is the very small number of agencies. There are 5 for every 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 13 in the emerging countries of Asia.

This makes digital all the more important: 40% of Africans prefer to use digital channels for their transactions. In 4 countries with a developed African banks market (South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Angola), the proportion of people preferring digital channels is much higher than that favoring agencies.

Digital is therefore essential to ensure the link between banks and their customers. They must be able to perform any type of online operations and to interact with their remote counselor.

Convenience is the second most important factor for African banks customers when choosing a bank after the price. The smartphone acts as an agency and can meet this expectation: it is, therefore, necessary to create a privileged mobile digital channel between the customer and the bank.

5The new channels of acquisition

African banks must offer channels adapted to the mobile and the uses of their customers. They must focus on points of contact that allow for local conversations, establishing a relationship of trust. To accompany customers on mobile, messaging is the most relevant means of exchange.

Applications such as Messenger, Viber, and WhatsApp popularize this mode of exchange with customers. Be able to communicate with their banks in the same way.

Banks should consider adopting proprietary channels such as messaging in-app, an instant messaging system built into the mobile application. It allows more control over the features and use of the data.

Facebook’s recent upheavals showed the importance of also relying on its own channels. But in fact, Facebook restricted or cut the APIs of Messenger, Instagram and Business pages. This case shows an example of a change coming from an external social network, having a major impact on the customer relationship.

Relying on a variety of channels is essential to always be reachable by its customers.

Diversifying its channels join the expectations of different groups of customers, according to their preferences and the nature of their request. To facilitate message processing and optimize customer relationship activity, organizations have to centralize their management.

The Dimelo solution unifies digital channels (messaging, email, chat, social networks, etc.) within a single platform to effectively drive activity, reduce response times, and improve customer satisfaction.

6African banks and the next steps

With this in mind, the Moroccan bank BMCE Bank of Africa places innovation at the heart of its strategy and offers solutions to simplify the customer experience.

These African banks offers innovative services to propose the best experience to their customers while maintaining a close relationship with them. For example, their chat service set up by Dimelo allows them to assist customers in real-time when they perform remote operations.

Thanks to this approach turned to the needs of customers and their expectations, BMCE BANK OF AFRICA won the title “Customer Service Elect of the Year 2018 Morocco” in the category bank and the price “Maturity initiatives digital innovation” .

Faced with the innovations of operators and new players in the finch, traditional banks must adapt to remain competitive. With the mobile habits of the population, intensified by the increase of the population expected by 2050, the digital transformation must be at the heart of the African banks’ objectives.

They have to adapt to the expectations of their customers and to respond to convenience issues in the customer relationship. And so the African banks have to offer various means of contact maintaining a close relationship and trust.