On 5 January 2020, Algérie Poste’s ‘Edahabia’ electronic card had become interoperable with the country’s banking network.This governmental initiative is expected to stimulate the banking market and positively impact the lives of millions of Algerians. BPC is proud to have enabled this service, as both Algérie Poste and the SATIM countrywide payment network are users of SmartVista.
To better understand the significance of this initiative we need to consider that Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world and one of the ten most populous states in Africa with an estimated population of more than 42 million, most of whom live in the fertile region spanning the 1,200 kilometres of the Mediterranean coastline called the Tell. Over half of the population is under the age of 30 and digital-savvy. According to GSMA Intelligence, Algeria’s mobile internet penetration rate is on a par with more developed markets. However, mobile phones are used mainly for calls and text messaging as 4G internet coverage is limited, which means wider adoption of banking services remains challenging. It is estimated that in excess of 1.5 million Algerians have a bank card, but card usability is limited, leaving many Algerians no choice but to pay for small or even large purchases with cash.
To enable greater choice in payment methods the banking sector had to implement change. In 2016, the government initiated the installation of remote payment terminals for businesses with a compliance deadline of the end of 2018. Although an admirable move, it did not influence cardholders’ behaviour since not all cards were accepted everywhere.
With interoperability in place, it will be interesting to see the response of Algerian consumers. Algérie Poste is the preferred financial institution for many Algerians who receive government salaries or subsidies. Algérie Poste’s Edahabia cardholders can now use the countrywide ATM and POS networks of Algérie Poste and SATIM, including seven public and nine private banks.
BPC monitored increased usage of the network to ensure a smooth transition for this project, which demonstrates the importance of making banking easy and efficient for customers in a functioning economy and society. Interbank cooperation and interoperability could drive the next wave of payment innovation in Algeria – unlocking easy and seamless payments that are accessible to everyone, thus stimulating e-commerce activity.