Tailoring end-to-end solutions

Join Alexandre Mey and Issam El-Ansari in conversation with African Banker magazine

BNI is the leading bank in Madagascar. It has 107 branches and 145 ATMs in the 22 regions of the country. BNI services are aimed at individuals, professionals, corporates and financial institutions. Personal, or short, medium and long-term investment credits are possible for the financing of projects. The bank also provides overdraft facilities, commercial discounts, advances on pledged stocks, real estate loans, insurance, and more. 

BNI has won the Global Finance magazine Best Bank in Madagascar award. Winners of the awards, according to the magazine, “are those banks that attended carefully to their customers’ needs in difficult markets, and accomplished better results while laying the foundations for future success.” BNI Madagascar also won the Best FX Provider accolade.

ABK: What is BNI’s market strategy and what is your business approach in an ever-changing market environment?

Alexandre Mey: BNI, as you know, is one of the key banks in Madagascar, providing services from retail and microfinance to corporate banking. We are very proud to be able to work with our clients in each segment. 

Being a universal bank with a deep approach to financial inclusion, we focus on facilitating access to financial services, from basic payments to structured ones. 

The banking industry has to play a new role by integrating more agility, proactivity and innovation in its operations.

The reason why BNI Madagascar started on many strategic changes is based on the new technologies of digitalisation. Our new approach to clients and businesses is to simplify business by tailoring end-to-end solutions. Our aim is for banking relationships to be easy, ergonomic and smooth. 

In the banking industry, technology is an enabler on multiple levels. How does your current technology help you to meet your daily business needs?

Issam El-Ansari: Technology was, is and will always be a part of the banking industry. The only difference is that technology has become much more important due to the changing environment; and client and market needs.

Today, technology offers more comfort and flexibility on many fronts – from the risk perspective, to business to innovation and digitalisation, for example. 

BNI had already started surfing on that wave by changing our Core Banking System in 2017, and moving to a new partnership with StoneX for the Swift Service Bureau in 2021; and we have integrated brand new digital services for payments and internal processes since 2018. 

We are still working on how to improve our business approach in the future by using AI, data and open banking technologies – and this is our daily challenge.

We understand that your relationship with StoneX covers correspondent banking and technology, as you are working closely with StoneX Global Payments and StoneX Technology Services. Could you let us know how this collaboration is working and how those two aspects of the business complement each other?

Issam El-Ansari: We firmly believe that cross-border payments still have a lot to do with both correspondent banking and technology. In a world of permanent changes and digitalisation, the banking industry has to completely integrate open banking and innovation with third-party service providers. 

Our main business for correspondent banking is based on trade finance transactions that require fast-tracking the whole process end-to-end. Without strong and smooth technology behind it, the bank would have to face huge operational risk issues. In other words, for correspondent banking, open innovation and technology are key ingredients for our business. And Stone X is combining both services for us.

In November, ISO 20022 goes live. The migration is complex and will be challenging for many banks: When core banking systems are not ISO 20022 enabled, banks must prepare themselves carefully for business to go on as usual and avoid disruptions. Why is ISO 20022 important to you as a bank? Could you share your experience of preparing for your migration to the new standard?

Issam El-Ansari: ISO 20022 is the format of the future. This evolution is considered by BNI as a major step to move forward into the new payments world. Harmonisation becomes mandatory for banks to facilitate transaction exchanges worldwide. Today banks have to use a common and standard format for all payments.

Our main target is to make the system as transparent as possible for our clients without any direct or indirect impacts. 

ISO 20022 will certainly create interoperability between various settlement networks using far richer payments data, which should result in higher levels of straight-through processing (STP) as well as more efficient compliance processes.

 The adoption will therefore offer a major opportunity for banks and corporates to improve services to their customers and counterparties. 

As the ISO 20022 is a complex standard and one message type can have numerous variants, for most institutions, adapting their internal systems to process the ISO 20022 messages will be challenging, leading to costly and time-consuming projects.

Transforming MT-MX mappings would become easy to customise and maintain. 

BNI has already started to study some cases to facilitate the migration, with support from partners such as StoneX.

What are your plans for the future? Which current developing trends do you feel will have a major impact on the banking industry?

Alexandre Mey: As explained, BNI has already started to implement new changes from the technological perspective. 

Having digitalisation as part of our DNA will improve our client and business approach. BNI Madagascar will continue to invest in the payment ecosystem, providing the best, and tailor-made services and working closely with fintechs on an open banking basis.