Banking in Mauritius is a vital sector of the country’s economy, and it plays a significant role in the nation’s development as a financial services hub.
The island has a strong and well-established banking system, with a mix of local and international players, offering a wide range of services encompassing cross-border corporate banking, international banking, private banking and trade finance among others. The banking sector in Mauritius is playing an increasing role in providing tailored solutions in regional and international markets. It is important to note that due to its extensive network of DTAAs with multiple countries, it has made the jurisdiction an attractive destination for foreign investments and offshore structures.
The island nation is well known for its ease of doing business, where it is ranked 1st in Africa and 13th globally in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020, while the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2020 highlights that among Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Mauritius was among the top 5 host economies for FDI flows in 2019, with flows amounting to USD 0.5 billion (representing an increase of 27.1% on the previous year) which confirms its leading position in facilitating international investment flows.
According to the Capital Economics Report, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the tune of USD 82 billion into mainland Africa is mediated by Mauritius creating 4.2 million jobs in the continent. The country has a well-developed financial sector, with a range of banking and financial services available to clients.
Mauritius today is known as the gate way to Africa, it has forged a reputation as a safe, trusted, and competitive financial centre supported by strong institutional arrangements and good governance. This is evident with the growing relevance of the Mauritius International Financial Centre (MIFC) serving as a conduit for driving investment to Africa. Today, more than 450 private equity funds are domiciled in the Mauritius IFC and investing in the African continent. As of June 2021, nearly USD 40 billion investments directed to Africa were structured through Mauritius.
Types of Banks:
There are several internationally recognised banks present in Mauritius, hence, depending on the type of business activities and facilities required, it is important to consult a professional entity like Órama Corporate Services for professional advice before selecting your choice of banks. These include:
Commercial Banks: These are traditional banks that offer a wide range of banking services to individuals, businesses, and institutions. Some of the prominent commercial banks in Mauritius include the State Bank of Mauritius (SBM), Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), and Standard Chartered Bank (Mauritius).
International Banks: Mauritius is home to several international banks that primarily serve global clients, including offshore entities. These banks provide services like offshore banking, wealth management, and corporate services.
Retail Banking: Commercial banks in Mauritius offer retail banking services, including savings and current accounts, loans, credit cards, and ATM services.
Corporate Banking: Banks cater to the financial needs of businesses, offering services such as corporate loans, trade finance, foreign exchange, and treasury services.
Private Banking: Mauritius has a growing private banking sector, serving high-net-worth individuals and providing tailored wealth management and investment solutions. Private wealth has also been a key area for growth of the Mauritius IFC, with several solutions available. It offers various options of succession planning mainly through trusts and foundations. Both legal forms allow for the creation of customised solutions that can accommodate diverse personal and business needs, ranging from succession planning to estate management. The Overseas Family Scheme was also introduced in 2016 and the licence caters for the domiciliation of High-Net-Worth Single-family offices and multi-family offices, which can hold and manage international assets and funds.
Digital Banking: The banking sector in Mauritius is embracing digitalization, with online and mobile banking services becoming increasingly popular.
Mauritius has developed into a prominent offshore banking centre, attracting international clients seeking tax-efficient financial services. The country’s legal and regulatory framework supports offshore banking activities.
Fintech and Innovation:
The banking sector in Mauritius is evolving with the introduction of fintech and digital banking solutions. Innovative services, including mobile payments and digital wallets, are gaining popularity.
The banking sector in Mauritius is regulated by the Bank of Mauritius (BOM), which is the central bank of the country. The BOM oversees the monetary and banking system, ensuring stability and financial soundness.
The Financial Services Commission (FSC) is another regulatory authority responsible for overseeing the financial services industry, including investment, insurance, and securities.
Mauritius places a strong premium on good governance, where the island has cemented its leading position in Africa by being ranked top in Africa by the Mo Ibrahim Index on African Governance (IIAG) for each consecutive year for over a decade.
Stability and Reputation:
Mauritius is known for its political stability, robust regulatory framework, and strong commitment to upholding international banking standards. This stability has contributed to the country’s reputation as a reliable financial centre.
The currency of Mauritius is the Mauritian Rupee (MUR).
Exchange Control Policies:
Currently, there are no restrictions on currency and capital exchange in Mauritius. The government of Mauritius abolished foreign exchange control by suspending the Foreign Exchange Control Act in 1994 to enable free repatriation of capital. Consequently, no approval is required for the repatriation of profits, dividends, and capital gains earned by a foreign investor in Mauritius. A foreign investor faces no legal obstacles when transferring profits made in Mauritius or divesting its assets in Mauritius and returning to its home country.
International Business and Investment:
The banking sector in Mauritius complements the country’s role as a hub for international business and investment. It supports foreign investors and businesses looking to establish a presence in Africa and the Indian Ocean region.
Compliance to International Standards:
Mauritius is also committed to full compliance with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force in relation to money laundering and terrorism financing, and is actively working towards achieving this goal, in dialogue with the relevant international authorities.
Moreover, the country has earned international recognition and is on the OECD ”whitelist” of jurisdictions that have substantially implemented internationally agreed tax standards and has also been adhering to compliance regulations. Mauritius is seen as a model of stability and economic prosperity in the region and envisions to consolidate its position as a regional platform.
Global Business Sector:
The Global Business sector in Mauritius is providing sophisticated services like specialized collective investment schemes, investment dealership, close-ended funds, and global collective investment schemes. These services are offered by management companies like Órama Corporate Services in collaboration with recommended banks or banks of choice by the clients.
Investors are welcomed into a dynamic securities market which offers world class trading facilities. The Stock Exchange of Mauritius is one of the pioneers in sustainability in the African continent and is considered as the second largest market, offering dynamic debt and equity market, trading of fixed interest securities and equity through investment dealers. It has played an important part by opening its activities to debt securities, ETFs, Eurobonds, and structured products, offering a range of possibilities to investors.
The island is widely recognised by both fund managers and investors and is commonly used for structuring cross-border and international investments. It is an attractive domicile for investments because it offers a flexible and cost-effective regime within a robust and regulatory framework, political stability, a well-developed infrastructure, a beneficial time zone, the presence of wider ecosystem of banks and professional services firms and the availability of skilled professionals.
Mauritius has a simple and attractive tax system, it is strongly committed to ensuring tax transparency. It was the first country in Africa to sign the FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) and it is also recognised as cooperating with the EU on tax good governance, where it has implemented all of its commitments.
Mauritius is actively working to promote financial inclusion, aiming to provide access to banking and financial services to underserved populations.
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