The development of electronic commerce in Morocco is dependent upon increasing the number of merchant sites, improving internet access and the active involvement of banks. While still in its early stages, the concept shows a lot of potential in Morocco.

The only current platform is Maroc Telecommerce, which was created in 2001 by banks BCP, BMCI, Crédit du Maroc, and SGMB, along with internet technology service and engineering company Intelcom. The platform handles around ten merchant sites selling services such as airline tickets, craft products, administrative services for businesses, hotel accommodations, and car rentals.

This year has also seen the online launch of several business-to-consumer sites, which have merchant galleries, but no online payment. Hypertechmaroc.com is an example of such a site.

"For the moment, our merchant site dedicated to information technology products has adopted the traditional principle of payment on delivery of the merchandise," says Soufian Aboulfaouz, general manager of Sicodex, the company which manages the Hypertechmaroc gallery.

Moroccan-German company Von Trebber has positioned itself in the business-to-business sector, offering opportunities for its network of retailers to order a varied range of information technology accessories online.

Despite the unsteady progress of the market to date, Samira Gourroum, technology manager for Maroc Telecommerce, says electronic commerce could develop in Morocco through concerted voluntary action on three levers for growth. The levers are development of the range offered by merchant sites, increasingly wide access to the internet and involvement of banks through the issuing of payment cards.

Up to now, Moroccan banks have shown very little interest in electronic transactions because the number of credit card holders is small compared with the number of debit cards issued. At present, the number of credit cards in circulation is no more than 200,000 compared with more than two million debit cards in circulation across Morocco.

Banks' reticence about electronic commerce can be seen in the limited number of banks (Banque Populaire, BMCI and BMCE Bank) offering internet payment services for certain categories of credit card.

The future of electronic commerce in Morocco will also be affected by the involvement of large-scale operators able to offer mass-consumption products at attractive prices, such as airline tickets and bill payments for telephone, water and electricity services.