Morocco leads the way in hi-tech financial services

By Eoin Casey

Morocco leads the way in hi-tech financial services

While Casablanca usually conjures images of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, these days the coastal Moroccan city is increasingly known for something else entirely: a burgeoning hi-tech industry. At the heart of the city’s tech industry lies Casablanca Nearshore Park, a modern business park housing over a hundred multinational companies including IBM, Dell and HP.
 
It is here, too, that S2M is based, a Moroccan company that has been specialising in payment solutions since 1983. Employing over 180 people, S2M offers payment solutions software for financial institutions, as well as a range of related production services.  
 
Its manufacturing centres, which are certified by Visa and Mastercard, produce personalised credit cards, cheque books, bills and statements for banks’ customers. Their software products are used by financial institutions to manage payments.
 
The company pioneered the use of magnetic bank cards in Africa and today their services are used by more than a hundred private and public institutions in thirty countries across Africa, Asia and Europe.
 
Mohamed Chami, Development Manager at S2M, said that having such a wide spread of customers around the world means that S2M is up against both domestic and international businesses.
 
In this fiercely competitive industry, successful companies are constantly innovating and creating better products. To continue growing and to become a global leader, S2M needed to increase their presence further in Africa and the Middle East, expand into new markets and improve the company’s organisational structure.
 
To help, the EBRD’s Small Business Support team, with funding from the European Union’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility, connected them with an international adviser and technology expert from Ireland with more than 15 years of experience in the IT sector, who supported S2M entering new markets and achieve their growth potential.
 
“S2M’s business is driven by innovation and the adviser worked with the company on bringing industry best practice to their software engineering division,” said Pedro Almeida, who headed the project from the EBRD side.
 
“They are now developing best-in-class solutions including mobile payments and instant card issuance and they have re-engineered their core payments solution.  As a result, S2M has entered the software-as-a-service market in Europe, while also increasing their penetration of African and Middle Eastern markets.”
 
“The project led to some significant business initiatives, including a major deal in Ethiopia, reinforcement of penetration in Moroccan national market and a strengthening of the organisation through the appointment of new senior staff in the key areas of sales, HR and product management.”
 
At the end of their two-year project, S2M’s sales had grown by 33 per cent, with exports increasing 25 per cent. Net profit grew from 6 per cent to 11 per cent, while the number of people employed by the company increased by 18 per cent.
 
After the success of the project, S2M and the EBRD are soon going to start a second SBS project, focussing on areas such as long-term planning, improving project management capacity and production efficiency and further developing sales operations and export capacity.