By Menna Samir
In an exclusive interview, Tareq Bashir, chief process and information officer (CPIO) at Fawry, and Mostafa Elnahas, chief architect & senior manager for solutions and project management at the company, talked with Daily News Egypt. They discussed their plans in the Egyptian market, the obstacles Fawry faced during implementation and their company’s position compared to competition.
What is Fawry’s history in brief, and what has changed?
TB: Fawry is an Egyptian company that started in 2009 with the purpose of offering electronic payment services through several payment channels. The service started at banks and a big network of outlets all over the republic as well as Egypt post.
Now we are covering about 60 types of bills, where we cover the telecommunications sector and lately we covered all electrical companies in the country and some water companies. We also offer our services at universities and syndicates. Adding to that, users can now buy their airline tickets through us.
Moreover we are currently collaborating with government agencies like the Ministry of Social Solidarity to support people who borrow small loans. Families who take loans to create businesses can now pay their monthly dues through any of our nearest outlets, instead of having to go to the bank and stand in queues to pay a small amount of money. Fawry is trying to figure out what people need to offer easy solutions for them.
ME: Furthermore, a new service was introduced in Cairo and Alexandria that allows the renewal of permits and the payment of traffic fines through Fawry. We’re planning to expand this service throughout all the governorates in the upcoming period.
What are the payment models that Fawry offers?
TB: We have two main models for payments. The first one allows the customers to be anonymous, so they can go to the bank, Egypt Post or an outlet to pay the bills they want to the place they want, without us knowing the person who made the transaction.
The second model involves customers creating an account with us, this makes things much easier for them as they can pay their bills through our website, where they can find their payment history and inquire about their bills online. Those who subscribe with us get more benefits; they can apply for automatic services where they specify when they want particular bills to be paid and to whom so that the system can automatically pay it for them.
We are trying to implement the one stop shop concept through Super Fawry, so instead of having to go through different procedures like filling out applications for different purposes it can be done just once. For instance one can fill out an application to buy an ADSL line and then make different purchases without having to redo the whole procedure of providing information all over again; we’re trying to make it easier for customers.
ME: The payment can also be through our mobile application “wallet” which is available at different versions for all users’ handsets to work on IoS, Blackberry, Android and Java. For every transaction to be made through the application, you have to put in your pin for security and confidentiality reasons. Through the wallet application, one can pay bills and recharge his/her phone as well as perform B2B transactions by transferring money from one source to another and make purchases from stores through the mobile wallet. The wallet can be charged through different Fawry channels or through the customers’ bank accounts. Given that customers can cash out their money from any of our outlets, we’re expecting for this model to grow in Egypt.
Also anything that needs automatic registration for purchasing a product can be done through a new service we’re offering called Super Fawry .You can subscribe to particular magazines, register to buy an ADSL line, purchase Sim cards, mobile wallets, prepaid cards, insurance policies, etc.
What other plans do you have for growth or expansion?
ME: In 2015 we’re planning on expanding through Gulf and other countries. Also we will try to push more on supporting individual/self-services. We already introduced the mobile wallet application and we are the technical provider for the “Phone Cash” service at the National Bank of Egypt (NBE). We will further expand and provide similar solutions to other banks. Also we made agreements with telecommunication companies to provide cash in and cash out wallet services.
Who are your main clients here in Egypt?
TB: We have several clients as we serve different sectors amongst them are: EgyptAir, Go bus, 13 public and private banks including NBE, Credit Agricole, Banque Misr, Bank of Alexandria, Bank of Cairo, HSBC, Audi and CIB. We also work with Mobinil, Vodafone, Etisalat, Tedata and others. Now we’re very interested in supporting the government sector and we’re actually covering all nine electrical companies in the country.
How did the rate of usage for Fawry change, from when it started until today?
TB: By the end of 2009, we used to get 1,000 transactions per day, but now we receive over 1.2m transactions on a daily basis. We’re actually expecting for the rate to grow in the coming years.
What is your market share compared to competition?
ME: We are a dominant brand compared to others who offer electronic payment services, it’s hard to know exactly the numbers, but we have about 80% to 85% of the market and the competitors have the rest. We have more than 45,000 retail outlets in Egypt, 13 banks are registered with us, all the ATM’S in Egypt are registered with us as well as the Egypt post. Regarding competition, there are some who are focused only on retail outlets others are registered with banks at a minor level but we have more channels.
TB: We’re trying to preserve our position in the market, however we’re aware of the competition and we respect their presence. The market is huge and it can include more than one company.
What is Fawry’s competitive advantage?
ME: This point has different dimensions; our solution is based on high technology and based on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) standard. We are highly available and our system is scalable as it can carry huge numbers of transactions. We are now certifying for the Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS) for security development and we’re following the standards of the Interactive Financial Exchange (IFX), ISO27001 and other different standards related to technology and security. Our solution is based on applying the latest technology, following the latest standards and being reliable. Moreover we allow easy access through more channels than competition to satisfy our customers’ needs. Also we’re covering more sectors and providing more services than our rivals.
TB: Furthermore, we have a very high ability to cope with quick market changes which isn’t an easy task to do. Thus we generate models that are adaptable to the needs of the customers and we do it fast.
How respondent is our community to the revolutionary changes in technology?
TB: Our community is adapting to technology at a very good rate and is succeeding in dealing with it.
Which demographic segment is more interactive with Fawry?
ME: Those who use Fawry on regular basis are from the age group of 25 to 40 years-old. They are up to date with technology, probably have a family with two children and have a lot of bills to pay so they need the easiest way to do it, and those are our main target segment.
Those who are younger are more focused on simple transactions and their usage for our services is limited to things like topping up their phones and charging for games.
As for those in their 50’s and older, they actually use Fawry but they are not aware of that, they can just go to the nearest shop to pay the bills without knowing that they are using our services, unlike the first age group who are fully aware of our concept.
What are the main obstacles that you faced when implementing your service?
TB: The social factor was a bit of an obstacle as it was a bit tricky to make people believe in our services and actually use it. Also the idea of penetrating certain sectors like electricity in the government sector was very hard. Bureaucracy in Egypt and the fact that we have work systems that have been followed for more than 100 years made it very tough for us to change those concepts. Regarding electricity bills the process itself of collecting the money for the bills requires a lot of paper work and specific steps and procedures that need to be followed so changing it from being a manual procedure to an advanced system with the use of technology was a strange idea for them.
What we had to do was to provide a solution that covers all the questions and uncertainties that the concerned parties had. In some markets you can just set a specific model and it works just fine but here it is never like that; you always have to customise what each client needs to provide a successful service and that’s what we’re doing.