May 23, 2011

The main banks in Mauritius

This is a list of the main banks in Mauritius. There are currently more than a dozen banks in Mauritius such as:

  • The Mauritius Commercial Bank
  • The State Bank of Mauritius
  • Barclays Bank
  • HSBC
  • Bank of Baroda
  • Bramer Banking Corporation
  • Bank One
  • Standard Bank
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • Deutsche Bank
  • AfrAsia Bank
  • Banque des Mascareignes

However, I will only blog about the main ones as there's not much to say about the rest. If you are looking for a more in-depth list of all the banks in Mauritius, you can find a great list on Wikipedia.

Mauritius Commercial Bank

The Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) is arguably the most popular bank in Mauritius. This does not however prevent it from having extremely poor customer service and from regularly wreaking havoc in customer accounts. Their new system, which apparently took no less than three years to complete, is riddled with problems.

Mauritius Commercial Bank logo

Website: The Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd.

For a bank that supposedly makes tons of profits every year, they have a horrible website which uses frames and is downright ugly. Moreover, the Internet Banking section is unusable and often requires multiple logins if you wish to do various transactions online. Simply checking your account transactions requires four or five clicks, which is probably a record in usability history. The ironic thing is that this is a new website that was supposed to be "ground-breaking" and was part of a three-year development process. They apparently changed their whole system and gleefully screwed everybody when the new system was launched last year.

Internet Banking is thus absolutely necessary if you wish to keep track of whatever's going on in your account, as since the release of the new system, I have seen my credit card get wrongfully charged on various occasions. Taking all these into consideration, it's no wonder they are making so much money. I'm just praying this does not turn into another Skynet.

State Bank of Mauritius

The State Bank of Mauritius is the second most important bank in Mauritius. They are experts at advertising mind-shattering loan offers that are not so mind-shattering once you read the small print. They do however have a couple of interesting customer account offers, but I have learnt never to trust banks, especially the ones in Mauritius.

State Bank of Mauritius logo

Website: SBM Group

The State Bank of Mauritius website is less horrible than the Mauritius Commercial Bank one, but that's not saying much. The biggest issue with the SBM website is that its home page is a splash page that redirects to another page. Having never used its Internet Banking, I cannot personally comment on it. Opinions are welcome.

Bank One

Bank One is the Sean Combs of Mauritius banks - they specialize in changing names, except they do it for all the wrong reasons. They were originally known as the First City Bank before going through a major re-branding nobody actually gives a damn about. This bank prides itself in its objective to become a huge player of the banking sector in Mauritius, which is their way of saying they want to make the profits advertised by the Mauritius Commercial Bank (but then, who wouldn't?).

Bank One logo

Website: Bank One

Bank One surprisingly has a great website that is very intuitive and has a great design. It's too bad I don't really trust them when it comes to money. They do however seem to have the best options when it comes to foreign accounts.

Barclays Bank

Obviously, this is the Mauritius branch of Barclays. There's not much to say about them other than the fact that there was a lot of talk last year about them closing their African offices due to "not achieving projected targets".

Barclays Bank logo

Website: Barclays in Mauritius
Appararently, they do not offer any Internet Banking feature for regular account holders in Mauritius (their UK Internet Banking is however excellent). Their website is however great, but it's mainly a section of their main international website. They could use without centering the whole damn website though.

HSBC Mauritius

HSBC Mauritius is the Mauritius branch of the "world's local bank". I have used them abroad and never had any issue with them but cannot say if the same can be said for their Mauritius counterpart.

Mauritius bank HSBC logo

Website: HSBC Mauritius
They favor websites that are not centered, like so many other banks in Mauritius. However, the HSBC Mauritius bank does seem to be updated more often than the other banks' websites.

Bank of Baroda

The Bank of Baroda is the Mauritius branch of the famous Indian bank. They're fairly popular with some groups of the Mauritius population, but they are overall well behind the big ones such as MCB or even HSBC.

Bank of Baroda in Mauritius

Website: Bank of Baroda Mauritius

According to its footer, the Bank of Baroda Mauritius website was created in 2003, and it certainly looks like it was never redesigned. Looking at it now, I'd say it certainly needs to be redesigned. They even have a link in their right sidebar for users to download the Flash plugin. In a surprising twist, the Bank of Baroda Mauritius website is however still updated. Their latest news was posted on the 25th of April, but there are big lapses between their updates. I suppose that's better than nothing.

Mauritius newspapers online

This is a list of the main newspapers in Mauritius as well as their websites. I suspect that this will mainly be of use to Mauritian expatriates since it is more customary for people in Mauritius to actually buy their newspapers (turns out the feel of paper in their hands is that important). This Mauritian newspaper list will also be helpful for those who wish to tour all the newspapers on any given day.

Le Défi

Le Défi is the most popular newspaper in Mauritius. While it was originally only published on Saturdays, its rapid popularity has seen the group expand into several publications.

Mauritius Newspapers - Le Defi Plus
These different newspapers include:
  • Le Défi Quotidien - which, as its name implies, comes out every day (except weekends)

  • Le Défi Plus - is published on Saturdays only

  • Défi Sexo - a newspapers that deals with sexuality and is a half-assed attempt to get easy sales by exploiting the sexual frustrations present in a big portion of the Mauritian population (which, you know, eventually leads to sexual assaults and rapes)

  • There are a couple of other newspapers such as L'Hebdo and News on Sunday that form part of the Le Défi Media Group.
Le Défi has consistently been the most popular newspaper in Mauritius thanks to its timely articles, its breaking news, the willingness of its journalists to go the extra mile, and its adaptability when it comes to giving the Mauritius population what the latter really likes in terms of news (and lack of). Unfortunately, it is often excessively guilty of flaunting unconfirmed rumors as breaking news and often exaggerates even the most trivial of news.

Website: Le Défi Media Group

Although there are no real stats to know which Mauritius newspaper has the most visited website (for all intents and purposes, the official Le Defi website does not even seem to use Google Analytics), it is fairly obvious that it is also the most read online newspapers. It is updated every day, and uses an intuitive and straight-forward layout. It used to have a horrible Comments system, but has since switched to the well-known Disqus plugin. Comments are approved quickly enough, and these seem to be well moderated.


L'Express is a Mauritius newspaper that comes out every morning and has a good following, especially its Sunday version (pictured below; the other days' format is different).

Mauritius news L'Express

As long as the right-most advertisements are ignored, it is also a decent website. It however suffers from one of the worst commenting systems I have ever seen where you enter your comments in a simple HTML form and the latter is not visible by default (you need to click on an arrow to view it). They seem to be rather edgy about accepting comments, which is quite ironic coming from a newspaper.

As an example, following Microsoft's acquisition of Skype on Tuesday 10 May 2011, some genius at L'Express posted a news article about how "Microsoft could maybe buy Skype" on Wednesday 11 May. This is a whole day after the deal actually went through, and Microsoft's interest in Skype was already going around the major US tech news websites as early as Monday 09 May (in fact, the deal was agreed on the 9th, but released officially on the 10th). My comment pointing this out on the article was never approved, which is funny coming from a newspaper that's widely known making a fuss about their rights to publish information.

Le Mauricien

News Mauritius Le Mauricien
The Mauritius newspaper Le Mauricien also consists of a few publications:
  • Le Mauricien - which is published in the afternoon from Monday to Friday, and on Saturday mornings

  • Week-End - which comes out on Sundays and is quite possibly the finest Sunday newspaper due to the great editorial sections by Jean Claude Antoine and a couple of other journalists. If you want to read grade A journalism in Mauritius, this is the newspaper you need to check out.

  • Scope - a magazine published on Wednesdays. This Mauritius magazine is focused on entertainment. It used to be very popular before but is now dying a slow and painful death like Fernando Torres's career.
Website: Le Mauricien

Seriously? This is the worst website ever and seems to pre-date even the Internet. It uses frames and tiny buttons, and basically does everything a website should never do. If you want to read a Mauritius newspaper online, you're better off checking another newspaper's website rather than lose your time browsing this mess. This is quite funny given that the traditional newspaper is actually really good. I am of the opinion that they don't really care about the website.

Le Matinal

Le Matinal is a Mauritius newspaper that comes out in the morning and that since grown in popularity quite rapidly.

Newspaper Mauritius Le Matinal
Website: Le Matinal

The official Le Matinal website is possibly the best of the whole bunch. They obviously have taken a lot of care in designing the website, and it makes full use of popular options such as the comment tool Disqus and is fully search engine optimized. The website is very easy to browse and well-moderated.

If you wish to keep updated with your news from Mauritius online, you should definitely check out the Le Matinal website from time to time.

5-Plus Dimanche

This very popular Mauritius newspaper comes out only on Sundays, and is visibly different from other Sunday newspapers in its format. Like Weekend, it boasts a couple of fantastic journalists, and their editorials are always spot on. They also have some great sections and seem to have found the perfect balance to catering to the various demographics in Mauritius (which is actually harder than it appears).

Their inability to cover late English matches can however be infuriating - the last Saturday Premier League match will at worst finish at 22.30 (Mauritius time) and they apparently cannot include these scores in the newspaper, which makes them as slow as a fully fit Andy Carroll.

Mauritius News 5-Plus Dimanche
Website: 5-Plus Dimanche

The 5-Plus Dimanche website is well-maintained and has an easy-to-browse architecture but it is aligned to the left, which does my head in. The home page is also a huge pain in the ass, with a right menu that is way too long with respect to the main content area. They should either trim down this menu or get around to adding more headlines on the home page. This being Mauritius, I don't think it should be hard to find more news to include on the home page.

Note: a second article on the Mauritius news websites was posted in mid-October here and can be found here. It is also a must-read!

May 22, 2011

Welcome to the Mauritius Information blog!

Although this Mauritius Information blog is brand new, its objective is to become the number one blog for information about Mauritius. While browsing around on the net, I have noticed that while there are tons of websites and blogs offering some news about Mauritius, there is not actually a single place where someone can find all the information he needs about Mauritius.

Naysayers will probably point me to the Orange website, but the thing remains that is more a directory than an informative website. It also seems that whoever is in charge of updating that website does not even give a damn about getting back to those who are actually taking the trouble of submitting relevant information through their submission form. Having twice submitted a couple of great websites to their directory more than one year ago which were never added to their Directory section, I don't think they're a reliable place for news.

While this blog is pretty barebones right now, an RSS feed, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page will be added later and you will be able to use these to be automatically notified of new posts. And although this is ultimately a blog, I do plan to include posts about the best Mauritius websites you can check such as Mauritius newspapers, Mauritius accommodation websites (third parties mainly), and any other websites that are worth checking out. However, human psyche being unpredictable, I may blog about other issues totally irrelevant to Mauritius from time to time.

Feedback, recommendations, and article suggestions are always welcome.

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