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Non-cash transactions in Egypt up to 7%; consultations underway with CBE for electronic services: Bankers

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The size of non-cash transactions in Egypt has reached approximately 7%, the head of business at MasterCard Egypt said during the People and Banks conference on Thursday.

He added that non-cash transactions have reached “90% in France and Belgium, 80% in America, 60% in Korea and Japan, 30% in the UAE, 20% in Saudi Arabia, and 10% in Nigeria”.

Yahya Al-Ajamy, General Manger of the Retail Sector at BanqueMisr, revealed that meetings are taking place with the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to develop a clear vision for offering various electronic services, including mobile banking, in light of the number of mobile phone users having grown to 103 million clients.

Ajamy explained on the sidelines of the People and The Banks Conference that the growth of the retail sector collides with a lack of confidence in engaging with some banking products, as the retail sector meets the needs of changing individuals. This evidenced the inevitability of designing a dynamic system within banks characterised by rapid movement to keep pace with those needs and desires.

Ajamy stressed the significance of educating clients on the importance of services offered by banks and eliminating a lack of confidence in some banking products. He pointed to the importance of re-training staff and increasing their skills in engaging with customers.

Chief Executive of Retail Banking at the Bank of Alexandria Basil Rahmy said that the number of bank clients in Egypt does not exceed 8.9 million customers among 90 million citizens, including 60 million who could benefit from opening accounts. He pointed out that this proportion is low and the problem represents a weak culture of banking among citizens.

Rahmy added that the shift to providing services online as well as the switch to digital banking has become more widespread, with 30 million people in Egypt using the internet and 50 million using smartphones.

He predicted that in 10 years, the number of bank branches will decrease and be replaced with more technological systems and the number of ATM cards will rise.

Hazem Hegazy, chairman of Retail Banking Group at the National Bank of Egypt, said that the banking retail sector began in Egypt in 2006 and arrived at the National Bank in 2008. He added that this sector is distinguished by its profitability, low risks, and also represents the bank’s responsibility to the community by providing services to the consumer.

Hegazy noted that banks have recently not only focused on providing services and competing with each other to provide them, but also that the style of service provision has become important as well.

He said that the bank began to develop a system of alternatives to the bank’s branch for providing services, in addition to an interest in developing branches.

Hegazy disagreed with Rahmy’s assertion that Egypt has four times fewer branches than other countries, pointing out that the National Bank is hoping to raise the number of branches.

He pointed to the need to provide services for paying certain bills online through nameless cards, the Credit Card Bill, sold in retail shops. University expenses can be paid through those cards.

He pointed to the need to look toward an electronic payment system and to activate mobile banking services supported by the Central Bank. He noted that the retail sector has a promising future in Egypt.

“The banking sector needs to provide products that are ‘detailed’ in accordance with customer needs, noting that services in Egypt are weak, represented only by current accounts, savings accounts, savings certificates, and deposits,” said Chief Executive of Branches and Retail Banking at Commercial International Bank (CIB) Ahmed Maher.

He added that banks must educate citizens on what banks do and the services available. He noted that the Banks Federation may soon launch an initiative to encourage citizens to open bank accounts.

He explained that the importance of the retail sector is in creating demand for Egyptian products as well as integrating the informal and formal sectors, which will lead to returns for the Egyptian economy.

Developing alternative channels such as ATMs and providing services via the internet must become as a point of focus, as well as making interactions between banks and their customers transparent.

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