The Key matters of E-banking in Tunisia: Survey findings Part 1

In Mai 2019 we launched an online survey to scan the customer satisfaction of digital banking and financial services in Tunisia. We got many highlights that figure out deep issues that customers are suffering from.

We find that these missing features can help Startups and banking institutions to develop the digital infrastructure based on predefined indicators from the end customers.

This research has been conducted by Little Big Smala team to support our banking partners to improve the quality of their services.

 Digital maturity of Financial institutions in Tunisia 

Technical aspects 


Digitization and web interface 

Respondents said that banks’ services should be smarter than the actual one. In other words, they want the bank to provide them with a complete process online and not just to create an account or check the balance. 

They need to carry all services online without being obliged to visit the agency. and the most claimed point is to have a functional ecosystem without technical issues that prevent them from completing their tasks online. 

Banks platforms in Tunisia have various technical issues including bugs, broken links, and non-responsive pages. also, the UX/UI doesn’t respond to the user’s device which makes the user experience uncomfortable and lacks flexibility. 

From their perspective, they want a secured digital payment and overseas cards that they could use abroad and with rational fees. < Digitization- low fees- security> 

Process speed and flexibility

The waiting time in financial institutions harms the customer journey, they said that the process is slowly-run and not tailored to the customer’s requests.

For instance, during the holidays and ceremonies especially  AID Fitr, Aid Adha, Ramadan, and summer.  Customers are overwhelmed by the time spent waiting for their turn in a long row.  

These problems amplify during the single-session working time ( July and August). people get mad from the reluctance of services without any precautions from the banks by adding new agents to serve customers in these particular days.

These issues are very repetitive and customers used to complain from that as the banks don’t bring efficient solutions to put an end for these troubles. 

Get rid of Old-school working style

Referring to the study, Customers are no longer approving the same communication style. Either technical stuff or Human one. Banks need to adapt to new technology from websites, Chatbots, mobile applications, and offer well-performing solutions  

Banks need to invest more in training the staff on digital trends to be able to direct the customer and not blocking him with an unsure or ambiguous answer. 

Also, the communication styles should be refined and offer relevant orientation for the customer. That helps him to make a decision and to align with the bank policy and rules by holding a clear vision and high awareness about the process. 

The information access tools are getting smarter and today’s users are smart enough to search and seek the information online rather than asking someone else, so the online review and authority building are key features to consider for the online content

More Facilities

To ensure that the customer will remain loyal to the bank, it is pretty important to provide him with quality services and competitive options.

To make him Say  <I did a deal with this bank> Because the money that he makes,  belong to his property and banks are living due to that.

So they should offer a special deal on a regular basis in regard to his pain points and needs to secure customer retention.

When customers go to the bank,  they have to deal with the provided tools and they don’t have another alternative or replacement. The customer thinks about the hassle of that since he leaves his home heading to the bank.  

this issue can increase further with the elderly who are the most vulnerable segment to these issues. and we witnessed that during the pandemic time.

 The safety measures

How to inform the customer that his data and money are safe?  Of course by implementing a solid ecosystem, Hard encryption standards, and Smart devices that have the ability to secure data in the most dangerous situation. 

Not just offering an online platform where users input their data. these are the main request of participants in this study.

Banks need to develop an in-home data protection system tailored to their type of customers and employees. Agencies must improve the IT system they use and get smarter solutions from the AI generation. 

A system based on high protection standards and offers soft treatment to the input data and reduces the distraction of traditional methods. 

These systems empower the skills of the bank staff and pamper the user experience with intelligent techniques. Thus it would be better for banks to develop their own IT systems that offer high protection level and adaptable to their business specificities and data generation. 

Unidentified fees make users use the cash more often and as a result, it breaks the trust between bank agencies and their customers.

Communication aspects 

A friendly staff is a wish 

Participants said that the first frustration occurs with the agents either via phone or direct contact. They said that banks should properly select their staff and train them well.

They have to improve their digital awareness and learn the new digital trends related to the domain.  So that they respond better to the customer requests and being able to guide the customer to the right path. 

Tunisian banks may inspire from International banks’ experiences, which represent a pioneering industry in Human resource quality.

For instance, HSBC offers market-competitive-pay for employees, but also enhance their staff by competitive training to adapt to the changing landscape. They invest in their workforce because they know that this is the only approach to improve their business. 

Another approach that has been adopted by  Central Bank, which is to recognize the staff contribution in the bank revenues and share these stories on social platforms especially on LinkedIn.

They show the impact of employees on the bank’s career. The sens of importance and responsibility will make employees feel that they need to give more and care about their business as the reputation of the institutions based on their work. 

Guide instead of warning

The most teasing mindset that participants hate is the mindset of warning, they want to be oriented kindly. Instead of reminding them with laws suit and sentences once they don’t pay their loans. It would be better to cultivate them wisely about the general environment of the credit policy. 

The tone of voice, the welcoming method, and strategic guidance are key points that customers are asking for. They said that agents are not very welcoming and they don’t help them to reach the result they want instead they address them in a vertical approach.

The bank Digital governance should keep aligned with customers. notify them once an update could help their financial status to get the loan. 

Inform about the financial legal reforms that have to do with his situation, these behaviors would make the customer feels that the bank wants to help him and care about his issue.

Raise the solution not the problem

The credit conditions may not fit all the customers’ status, and this is very common, it may be a question of warranties, salaries, or legitimacy, well in all these cases a problem has arisen.

What participants want is that their banks or lenders highlights the solution and help them to find a way to meet these conditions and get the loan. 

Also when it comes to the repayment duration, customers said that it represents another loop for them. Thus they ask for a flexible duration and not alerting them with deadlines and outcomes of the repayment delay.

This is pretty obvious for entrepreneurs and businesses who need more time to fix their business before thinking about credit repayment. 

Once banks start thinking to change their attitudes toward customers in terms of communication and rules. customers would be more eager to deal with their bank as a source of trust and solutions raiser. 

Cultivate instead of ordering

This approach could be directly or indirectly. Banks can acknowledge the customers about their conditions and policies throughout different mediums.

Social Media channels are good alternatives. Banks can tell their customers a bunch of financial data that cultivate the customers and potential ones about facilities and conditions offered by a particular bank. 

Then,  he would be able to compare and contact the bank before being engaged in a particular deal.

Banks could release data about Fixed and Variable Interest Rates, Mortgage offset, Annual Equivalent Rate, RPI (Retail Price Index), APR (Annual Percentage Rate).

It would be a good solution to uncover this jargon for ordinary customers using plain language and visuals to explain their meaning, how they are measured, and how this stuff affects credit conditions.

Also, it is important for banks to reveal some findings, annual reports, Turnover… all these practices will raise transparency and empower the trust between banks and customers.  

In this digital generation, this data should be graphically drawn to please the audience and simplify the information captivation. Users get more information on the format of graphic charts, videos, images. These features motivate him to learn and understand.

Proactive thinking 

The most common issues that participants mentioned refer to the high fees margin and bad communication. This is an important indicator that can tell a lot about the banking service in Tunisia.

These problems seem to be repeated more than once during a customer journey. That repetition turns these problems into lifelong handicaps that couldn’t be treated.

However, they should be proactive in terms of dealing with problems and customers’ requests. banks ( as staff) shouldn’t stick to the problem until it happens or consider it as an ordinary step that customers need to go through. .

Instead of that, they have to train employees to solve these obstacles before. And the most important thing is to not let these issues float again. 

Empathy and personalization

This is the scope, banks should cultivate their staff about the new business figures that appear due to digitization and they have to put themselves on the ‘’ Customer shoes” to be able to understand their thoughts. 

Millennials’ expectations are soaring, due to the user-centric services that retailing platforms are offering. So they want the same level of digitization and solution to trigger them to use the bank platform more than once. 

Banks need to highly apply  Data-driven techniques,  AI, and conversational interfaces to highlight the customer interest and frictions to offer a customizable alternative for his request. 

Half of the respondents were under 30 which can bring us to think about the type of digital services that can be delivered to this segment. 


There are plenty of touchpoints that customers go through either physical or digital ones. 

At each level, banks need to offer information that has contextual relevance for the current customer behavior, interests, needs, and life. 

A piece of information typically related to his concern such as a mortgage, insurance, create an account, currency converter, payment.  Not just a generic statement that standardizes customers as one static unit.

Because not all users come to the bank or visit the bank platform for the same reasons or with the same mindset. 

The design and the functions of a banking website or mobile app need to hold better features and modern fields where the user feels empathy and goes through great UX.

Consider New occupations in the crediting approach

The freelance business has become a trending working model. Major workers in this field may not have a contract or a draft commitment with a particular company.

But on the other hand, they work permanently with different partners.  They can pay on a variable basis.

In other countries, this category of customers is allowed from crediting solutions that fit their incomes and within variable fees.

The crediting terms and the type of credit itself need to be refined and to adapt to the need of creditors and their repayment abilities.

These figures could be realized with AI technology, which is the future of digital finance and banking sectors. The question now is no longer the utility of AI techniques in the financial field.

Instead of it, banks need to think about how to direct these techniques to improve their level of communication with clients and how their employees could bring better experience by using them. 

In this generation, Banks must implement the Know Your Customer (KYC) process; Which is the concept that gathers all practices that reveal the client’s persona to offer a relevant product later.

Today many tools are offering digital profiling solutions to identify the milestones of previewed users and make it easy to define the next stages that fit their needs. so what remains, is just the implementation.

We can say that empathy can take place everywhere in the customer journey and at all the stages that he lands-on. Website, social media, email, offline conversation… 

So financial institutions need to offer the explanatory text, confirmation message, friendly onboarding steps with a clear orientation and effective assistance whenever required, and with the same level of empathy, understanding, response-flexibility, and efficiency.  

Overseas financial policy is not at the level of expectations

1) Expats consideration 

Tunisians who are living abroad are an important contributor to the country’s national resources and bring more fortune than tourism can do.  However, Expats said that banks don’t respond well to their expectations and don’t offer them the best facilities that match their expectations and their geographic conditions. Either for investing, for money transfer, or for currency-account-creation. They don’t find the motivational terms and support to run their business.

2) Banks abroad issues

TFB or what has been Known as Tunisian Foreign Bank case. It is one of the most difficult issues that shows the weaknesses of foreign financial policy. And how People from Tunisia don’t find sufficient support abroad to carry their financial transactions. 

In this case, The Tunisian state is required to pay the investors damages about billions of dollars added to the decline of the bank’s reputation and services. due to corruption,  bad management, and accounting fraud. 

Some political parties talked about promising reforms and improvements for this sector, during their Election campaigns. But the decision-makers are not serious enough in dealing with this subject. Which remains this issue a continuous one.

However, this type of bank that operates abroad can resolve billions of issues and facilitate daily processes for Tunisians abroad and immigrants who are not allowed to create a current account in foreign banks due to the lack of official docs and identity-related concerns.

The relevant description of the situation is that these branches that function in foreign countries are not solving the critical and continuous issues that Expats are dealing with. Also, they don’t customize advanced solutions to adapt to the newborn problems that have been recently arisen and have a direct impact on Tunisian Immigrants. 

3) Immature communication 

Expats said that the immaturity of the digital system and the communication with agents represent the key frictions of their experience with banks. In front of these bad services, they are asked to pay high fees. Thus they prefer to send money with 1.2.1 person and choose to convert money in local stores or in  the black-market

Banks are asked to resonate their charging fees for this category, and consider their geographical location to offer them advanced interfaces and channels to go through. 

In the survey, some participants were living abroad and they declared that banks need to improve the digital infrastructure by using more flexible approaches including paperless methods. Others said that banks in Tunisia are not supporting their conditions. On the opposite,  they charge them over and over without any improvement in communication or services. 

3) Key indicators

Before that, we run a search around the number of Tunisian expats, how many are they? where they are living as a mass? and how they find the financial facilities…

In the end, we got two different results: A Promising and a disappointing one. 

The promising feature is that the expats’ number represents a huge resource for the country’s national income in terms of currency and economic traffic, especially during the holidays.  

But the bad feature is the total dissatisfaction they have toward the banking and public institutions. . all of them said this expression ‘’ We are just a Golden-Chicken”   

They highlighted the communication issues that occur with agents who seem non-comprehensive from their point of view.  Added to the difficulties and obstacles they had to go through to run an investment or create a business. 

Another frustration is about the high fees for money transfer especially for those who used to send money for their family members on a monthly basis.

They need fewer fees and an easy approach for them and for the local receiver ( typically elderly)  by using digital solutions without adding too much payment margin. 

In this subject, Tunisian banks can dramatically contribute through the partnership with international banks and solve many frictions and obstacles, that Tunisian expats used to deal with. 


This was a glance about what Customers declared in their responses. Participants expressed further insights about several services and this survey helped us to define key issues with banking and next time we will share further details about the E-banking issues and why customers don’t trust their banks in Tunisia.

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