The first ever women’s bank card in Ethiopia

The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Ethiopia’s largest bank, commissions Morpho to design its first ever bank card intended especially for women. We take a look back at this initiative, symbolic of the financial independence of women in Ethiopia.

Morpho has been working with CB Commercial Bank of Ethiopia since 2012, being responsible for making their EMV* bank cards – around a million units – and designing them. Making use of the segmentation principle, not all of their cards are destined for all different users such as students, families, businesses, etc. To differentiate them, the bank asked Morpho to design its full portfolio of seven visuals. What is special about this project is the fact that one of these cards is particularly designed for women – a true first in the country. Linked to the Women's Saving Account (WSA), it is the first of its kind in terms of benefits, goals and clientele targeting. Some 200,000 units have so far been planned.

A card specifically for women
In Ethiopian culture, women often are the true pillar of family's economic integration: They normally look after the finances. With this card, the bank wants to make microcredit solutions more accessible for Ethiopian women so that they can take necessary steps as easily as possible. Aimed in particular at those based in rural areas, this card will be a unique opportunity for women to access the banking system or receive benefits from certain merchants. Having a bank card will also allow them to avoid thefts or prevent bankruptcy in case of loss; it has been known that for example families have lost their entire life savings in fires or other natural disasters.

A traditional design
Banks place a lot of importance on the design of their cards because they represent their brand's image. For this card, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia asked Morpho to provide some visuals that evoked elegance and optimism. The teams came up with six designs – five resolutely modern and one more traditional. The last one really caught their eye: It was the traditional Ethiopian costume that inspired Morpho while designing the card. The costume is called a "tibeb", which means wisdom. The card shows the image of a contemporary Ethiopian woman, who whilst being modern, has not turned her back on her values and culture. It was an extremely captivating idea.

*EMV (Europay, MasterCard and VISA) is becoming the universal standard for migrating magnetic-strip cards to smart cards. EMV is a standard for inter-operability developed by the three financial institutions. It guarantees the co-operation of all smart cards bearing the Europay, MasterCard or VISA logos in all payment terminals and ATMs in order to ensure an optimal level of security.