A partnership between payments platform Thunes and Moroccan bank Attijariwafa will allow users to send direct payments to bank account owners in Morocco. The North African country has a sizeable diaspora and is the third largest remittance receiver on the continent, after Nigeria and Egypt. Personal remittance inflows to Morocco in 2020 were an estimated US$7.4bn.
As Africa’s fifth biggest economy – with a GDP of $128.6bn in 2021 – Morocco is an important financial hub. Formed in 2004 after a merger between Banque Commerciale du Maroc and Wafabank, Attijariwafa has grown to become Morocco’s largest banking and financial services provider. In 2005, Attijariwafa began its international expansion with the acquisition of Banque du Sud in Tunisia. It has since broadened its footprint to over a dozen countries, including Egypt, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Cameroon, making it one of the continent’s top 10 biggest banks.
Thunes operates a global business-to-business cross-border payments network with a particular emphasis on emerging markets. It connects mobile wallet providers, banks, technology companies and money transfer operators in over 130 countries. The company has a significant network in Africa with numerous banking and mobile money clients. In 2020, Africa-focused private equity firm Helios Investment Partners led Thunes’ US$60m fundraising round. In a statement at the time, Thunes said Africa, Asia, and Latin America provide its principal growth opportunity as “fragmented and complex payment ecosystems often leave consumers and businesses struggling with slow, costly and reliable ways of moving money”.
Cross-border remittances form a significant industry in Africa, with inflows to the sub-Saharan region alone amounting to US$49bn in 2021, although the true figure is likely much higher owing to informal flows. However, it is the most expensive continent to send money to; in the fourth quarter of 2021, transferring US$200 cost an average of 7.8% in sub-Saharan Africa and 6.4% in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, compared to 4.3% in South Asia. Recent years have seen the emergence of several start-ups challenging traditional remittance providers to make transfers more efficient in Africa.
Asma Ben Gamra, vice president of network development for MENA at Thunes, said cross-border payments in Morocco have suffered from inefficient and expensive methods. Thunes is connected to Attijariwafa bank via the RippleNet blockchain-based network, allowing customers to receive transfers from across the world in seconds and at a cost-effective rate.
‘10 richest African countries in 2021 based on gross domestic product (GDP)’, Business Insider Africa, 25 December 2021
‘Thunes raises $60m in Series B funding to accelerate global growth’, Thunes, 8 September 2020
‘Morocco economic update’, World Bank, April 2022
‘Remittances to reach $630 billion in 2022 with record flows into Ukraine’, World Bank, 11 May 2022
‘Thunes partners with Attijariwafa bank, expands bank payout services across Morocco’, PR Newswire, 12 July 2022
‘Africa’s top 100 banks in 2021’, African Business, 18 August 2022
‘Attijariwafa bank: the history of a hundred-year-old group’, Attijariwafa, 22 August 2022