Changing technology: Banks are moving towards increased online services

which hinders the development of mobile e-banking and restricts wider internet penetration. In neighbouring Morocco, for example, internet penetration has increased rapidly since 3G was launched and the majority of internet subscriptions are now via 3G. The percentage of Algerians using the internet in 2011 stood at just 14%, according to International Telecommunications Union data, compared to 51% in Morocco.

E-COMMERCE: Limited internet use will also likely act as a constraint on e-commerce, which has yet to truly take off in Algeria, despite being ready for launch from a technological standpoint. “At the moment, we know how to do internet and mobile payments and on a technical level everything is ready,” said Abderrazak Trabelsi, director of the Professional Association of Banks and Financial Institutions. “However, we have delayed the launch as it cannot be done until all the rules are clear, such as how disputes are dealt with.” Newel Benkritly, director-general of Société d'Automatisation des Transactions Interbancaires et de Monétique, echoed these sentiments. “We designed a 3D secure platform which has been ready since 2010 and we have run pilots with Air Algeria and [mobile network operator] Djezzy, so there are no technical obstacles,” she said. “The problem is a lack of established laws and regulations regarding the segment; e-commerce cannot go ahead until a legal framework is completed. There remains a need for regulations on distance selling; currently there is nothing on the issue in the commercial code.” Benkritly went on to say that although e-signatures are being developed, precisely who will provide them remains unclear.

Speaking in June 2012, Trabelsi said he believed everything would be in place for electronic payments by the end of the year. Nevertheless, some industry players think it will still take time for e-commerce to become more widespread. “The entire infrastructure for e-payment solutions is ready but mentality and habits are much more difficult to change,” said Laurent Dupuch, director of BNP Paribas El Djazaïr. Electronic banking is beginning to take off in Algeria, in particular with regards to corporate clients. E-commerce, however, has yet to get off the ground due to regulatory issues, despite the technology already being in place. Industry players say it is set to launch in the near future, yet uptake of both services will be constrained by the interlinked issues of a low internet penetration rate and the current lack of a 3G network.

E-BANKING: E-banking is increasingly becoming both in demand and common in Algeria. A number of the country’s major banks have entered into the segment in recent years. For example, Banque de Dé veloppement Local launched an e-banking service in November 2011, allowing its customers to view their accounts and make transfers. One of the major providers of electronic banking solutions locally is Algeria e-Banking Services, the Algerian partner of payments firm Clear2Pay, which works with six local banks. The firm offers both retail and corporate e-banking products; its retail offering allows customers to check their accounts, undertake bank transfers, pay bills and order new bank cards online. Other banks also offer basic e-services; Gulf Bank Algeria allows customers to check their accounts online. Demand from business clients in particular is driving the development of e-services, say local industry players. “Clients, particularly corporate clients, now want electronic banking, and the market is ready to absorb the technology,” said Nafa Abrous, the deputy director-general of Lebanese-owned Fransabank El Djazaïr. “Not a day passes without a client calling to ask us to send out our electronic teams to install systems. It is no longer surprising to see small and medium-sized enterprises looking for electronic banking,” said Youcef Mounir Meghlaoui, senior relationship manager for global banking and markets at HSBC Corporate in Algeria, adding that payment management solutions are particularly in demand.

LIMITS: Growth of the segment faces a number of constraints, however, such as the lack of a 3G network,

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The Report: Algeria 2012

Banking chapter from The Report: Algeria 2012

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