Senegal corporate banking options in 2021
Since 2003, Healy Consultants Group PLC helps multi-national Clients open multi-currency corporate bank accounts in Senegal for both local and overseas companies.
Without bank signatory travel, our Dubai-based team will project manage the multi-currency corporate bank account opening process, including preparing a quality business plan for our Client’s business.
We recommend our multi-national Clients read this web page to avoid bank surprises later!
Senegal banking problems and solutions
No Senegal banking problem Solution 1. Bank refuses to onboard a foreign company which does not have a physical office in Senegal, or Senegalese customers or suppliers.
Healy Consultants Group PLC will register i) a local Senegal entity or ii) our Client’s specific project with the local Tax Authority to secure Senegal corporate bank account numbers.
Healy Consultants Group PLC has a guaranteed corporate bank account approval policy.
2. Global banks continue to tighten corporate bank account opening procedures, their internal compliance departments completing more thorough due diligence of Clients. Consequently, our Clients should expect Senegal bank account approval to take up to two months. If our Client requires a bank account at short notice, we recommend an immediate Senegal solution plus already-approved local corporate bank account). 3. Like most international banks, it is common for Senegalese banks to close corporate bank accounts without giving an open, transparent reason to their customers. To close a customer bank account without giving the bank signatory an opportunity to explain ‘unusual transactions activity in the corporate bank account’ is an unfair, unreasonable action which places our multi-national Clients’ businesses under stress. We recommend our multi-national Clients open multiple multi-currency corporate bank accounts for their entity. It is unwise to open one corporate bank account and have your business be dependent on one bank. 4. As we advance deeper into a global depression, it will become more common for banks to experience financial difficulties. Consequently, multi-national Clients should expect i) small banks to go bankrupt and ii) small to medium-sized banks to be bought over by top tier banks. The number of banks operating in each country will get smaller, exposing our multi-national Clients to financial risk. For each of their entities, we recommend our multi-national Clients open multiple multi-currency corporate bank accounts across multiple countries. Spread your funds across multiple corporate bank accounts in multiple top-tier banks in multiple different countries. Avoid small banks including PSPs FSPs and digital banks. Ensure each bank offers customer deposit insurance.
The Senegal banking sector
Healy Consultants Group PLC summary view:
- The Senegal economy is at risk of recession in 2021 as the Covid-19 fallout hits i) tourism income ii) inward investment and iii) overseas remittances from expatriate Senegalese. Ratings agency Moody’s predicts Senegal’s debt burden in 2021 will reach 65% of GDP, from 56% in 2019. This will limit the government’s ability to support the economy and/or source low-cost finance.
- As a result, there is a risk that bank balance sheets and stability will be hit by i) falling bank deposits as companies go bankrupt and people lose their jobs ii) reduced demand for products such as loans as small businesses and households scale back investment and spending iii) more customers defaulting on loan repayments iv) the fact that some banks have large deposits held by just a few Clients and v) an explosion in the use of mobile payment services providers (currently only 15% of the population have a formal bank account).
- In 2020, the value of Senegal’s foreign exchange reserves surged strongly from US$64 million in March to US$565 million in April, and US$494 million in November.
- Although the banking and financial system is not seen at risk of AML/CFT compliance deficiencies, the US State Department views Senegal as a being of ‘primary concern’ regarding money laundering and financial crimes. The country has a large, informal cash economy which is vulnerable to money laundering. Expect Senegalese bank accounts and transactions to come under greater scrutiny in the coming years.
- Getting credit is a problem in Senegal. Most small businesses are funded by one of the many microfinance firms in the country, not traditional banks.
- Standard & Poor’s sovereign credit rating for Senegal is B+ and Moody’s is Baa3 (with a negative outlook).
- Bank deposits in Senegal are not protected. If a bank fails, the depositor loses their money.
- Because of the above factors, Healy Consultants Group PLC recommends multinational Clients minimise funds held with Senegalese banks, and spread risk across multiple jurisdictions.
Key information on the Senegal banking sector
- Senegal is a member of the Western Africa Economic and Monetary Union. The eight member states share i) a common currency, the CFA Franc ii) a single central bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) and iii) a common monetary policy. BCEAO is responsible for banking and financial system stability among the eight member states.
- We recommend the following regional and international banks in Senegal: i) Citibank ii) United Bank of Africa iii) International Commercial Bank and iv) Ecobank. Only 15% of Senegal’s population has a bank account of any kind.
- Companies are seldom allowed to have foreign currency accounts in Senegal. Any request must be made through the Central Bank and it is usually granted to consulates/embassies and NGOs with special agreement with the government.
- It is not necessary for our Client to visit Senegal to open the bank account. Our agents will courier all documents to our Client for signature.
- Commercial banks in Senegal also offer i) reasonable online and mobile banking facilities ii) debit and credit cards and iii) wealth management products.
- While there are ATMs across Senegal, they are unreliable, may not accept international bank cards, and sometimes run out of cash. Senegal remains a heavily cash-based society, and it is unwise to rely on making payments by debit and credit card for everyday purchases.
- Despite being a cash society, Covid-19 is accelerating the move to mobile payments in the country. For example, Senegal payment platform Intouch carried out 30 million transactions in 2019 across Africa, enabling payments to be made remotely from even the smallest stores.
- There is no minimum deposit required for corporate bank account opening in Senegal. However, it is advisable to maintain at least 500,000 CFA franc (US$927) in the account.
- By law, all transactions must be carried out in local currency. However, a Client/supplier is welcome to invoice its suppliers in foreign currencies.
- On average, Senegal banks take two months to issue corporate bank account numbers and e-banking access.
- Bank branch staff in Senegal speak French, and correspondence and online banking etc in all banks is in French.
- Local retail banks offer better currency exchange rates than money changers. If you open a foreign currency account along with a Senegal CFA franc account, transfers can easily be made between the two.
- Senegal is not a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), a global initiative to clamp down on tax evasion, and so Senegal banks do not share information on accounts and account holders with the tax authorities where the company/individual is tax-resident. However, Senegal is a signatory of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, which, like the CRS, seeks to eliminate tax evasion.
- Senegal is not a signatory to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), in which banks around the world report information on US account holders to the US Inland Revenue Service (IRS).
Foreign exchange obligations in Senegal
- There are no restrictions on the movement and repatriation of capital from Senegal. However, foreign currency export sales must be settled in a local bank account within 120 days to avoid customs penalties.
- Central bank legislation requires that all fund transfers exceeding US$2,000 must have supporting documents. For the repatriation of funds such as dividends, the minutes of the Board are acceptable supporting documents.
Senegal multi-currency corporate bank account opening is easy if you know how. Contact Healy Consultants Group PLC if your Firm needs assistance navigating through the different banking solutions.