THE Moroccan Chaabi Bank has opened an Almeria branch – its first in Andalucia – hoping to acquire thousands of new clients.
There are 52,000 Moroccans registered as residents in the province and the bank aspires to attract the 80 per cent who regularly send money back home.
These remittances represent around 9 per cent of Morocco’s GIP but few Moroccan workers use banks. Most prefer the services that are offered by the ‘locutorios’ where they also make long-distance phone calls and access the internet. Since 2004 Chaabi Bank been working with some 30 Spanish banking and finance firms, including Banco Popular, La Caixa and Bankia. Its aim is to introduce Moroccan residents to Spain’s banking system, explained Leila Hayat, Chaabi Bank’s director general in Spain.
The bank wants to connect both countries, as consultants and providers of financial products to Spanish companies with Moroccan interests. This is a two-way process, however, with plans to assist Moroccan businesses in Almeria.
Chaabi Bank, part of the Banque Populaire du Maroc group, has a five-year target of opening a branch in each Spanish province to add to Almeria’s and those that already exist in Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao. Morocco’s ambassador, Ahmedu Uld Suilem attended the opening of the new branch which he described as the outcome of the Moroccan community’s “total integration.”
It would benefit not only Moroccans, but could also assist the region’s development, its economy and long-term investments, he said.
Further branches are now planned for Alicante, Valencia, Gerona, Tarragona and Lerida, plus Oviedo in Asturias.