Governor Abdellatif Jouahri marked the Moroccan central bank’s 60th anniversary at a conference held in the capital of Rabat. Photo credit: Bank-Al Maghrib/Twitter

Bank Al-Maghrib Governor highlights FinTech and gender inequality at 60th Anniversary Celebrations

Bank Al-Maghrib (BAM) Governor Abdellatif Jouahri marked the Moroccan central bank’s 60th anniversary at a conference held in the capital of Rabat, by highlighting the importance of financial technology (FinTech) in an ever-changing banking environment.

Speaking at the Digital Transformation - Balancing FinTech Opportunities and Risks: Implementing the Bali FinTech Agenda on March 13, 2019, Governor Jouahri highlighted the importance of digital technology in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and a boom in the use of smartphones, social networks and digital platforms.

“FinTech is revolutionizing the financial landscape, by expanding products and services, improving their quality, and making them more accessible and less expensive,” he said at the two-day event, which was co-hosted by BAM and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He added that the “frantic pace” of FinTech is “now influencing the way we produce, share, consume and interact, and its impact is felt on all sectors”. Among them, he said, was a need to invest in education and human resources training with technological innovations triggering greater demand for a digitally-skilled labor force.

“Considering the important economic, financial and social implications of such a revolution, public authorities are compelled to set an adequate legal framework and provide an environment conducive to technological innovations and FinTech development,” he said.

Emphasizing the potential benefits to financial inclusion, Governor Jouahri said: “We need to seize the opportunities offered by the FinTech to narrow -- in collaboration with the stakeholders -- the deficits and gaps in financial inclusion, mainly for youth, rural population and women.” He added that gender inequalities are particularly high in the Middle East and North Africa, with women granted only half the rights of their male counterparts. In Morocco, the financial inclusion gender gap stood at 25 percent in 2017, according to Global Findex. At the same time, only 29 percent of adults had a bank account.

Echoing this sentiment was Deputy Executive Director at the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) Norbert Mumba, who said in a separate speech at the event that, “FinTech for financial inclusion should proffer solutions to the challenge of how to create new models of economic development that reduce inequalities while promoting growth and transformation on a global scale.”

As part of efforts to bridge the gender gap, AFI has created sub-group under its Digital Financial Services Working Group (DFSWG) to develop a policy framework that enhances and sustains access, while also increasing the use and overall quality of financial services for women.

“[I] reiterate my call for action to the regulators, market actors and other stakeholders in the eco-system to leverage digital technologies in a responsible and safe manner as we reach out to vulnerable segments of the society such as the poor, women and forcibly displaced persons,” AFI’s Mumba said.

“The need for better market conduct and enhanced financial capability is never out of fashion even in the advent of the glory of financial technology,” he added.

Founded in June 1959 and headquartered in Rabat, BAM is a principal and leading member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) network. Since 2016, it has made 23 commitments to the Maya Declaration, a global initiative that encourages national commitments to financial inclusion. Of this total, it has completed 11, including the development of indicators that measure the access and quality of financial services and products as well as the implementation a second credit bureau. In recognition of its accomplishments, it was named the Maya Declaration Award Institution at the 2017 AFI Awards.