CAIRO: The Mediterranean Smart Cards Company (MSCC) held a conference in Sharm El-Sheikh this weekend bringing together banking, bank processing, and card experts from around Africa to discuss the future of banking and banking transactions in a conference titled “Together for a Better Africa.
The conference was MSCC’s first annual gathering and was intended to bring together the best minds in their fields to plot a path forward for banking transactions in Africa.
MSCC is a leading regional player, starting in Egypt at the beginning of the decade, before spreading its services to North Africa in 2004, West Africa in 2005 and sub-Saharan Africa in 2006. Eighty percent of MSCC banks come from Africa.
The company hopes to be working with 125 banks in 35 countries by 2015.
MSCC convened the conference “in order to provide our clients with the best smart card processing service in the market, said Hoda Shoukry, MSCC’s Managing Director, in her opening comments.
Much of the opening session was occupied by industry leaders introducing their companies as a means of beginning the discussion and introducing a conversation over best practices into the industry.
In light of the global economic crisis, the conference gave leaders the opportunity to find a “new form of growth focused on innovation, said Pascal Guignard, a Vice President at American Express.
The primary challenges facing the industry, most of the panelists agreed, were transactional security, greater access to transactions for the middle and lower income brackets, and establishing strategies for conducting efficient transactions.
Sherif Hashem, Executive Vice President of the Information Technology Industry Development Agency, said that African companies needed to develop stronger security strategies to protect clients and burnish the continent’s reputation as a reliable place to do business.
“It’s not just technology and people, he said, referring to implementing secure transaction networks, “it’s about the overall strategy.
He applauded new US legislation implementing penalties for data exposure and said that, from the government side, this is a strong way to affect change in the transaction industry.
Much of the conference was also spent praising MSCC’s work. Many of the panelists said that a company like MSCC would allow their businesses to expand into markets that they might not otherwise be able to because of infrastructure issues.
Xu Youke, for example, who heads the International Division at China Union Pay, said that his company is eager to strengthen ties between China and Africa and that MSCC is in a position to help do that.
Jean-Francois Paul, Vice President at Diners Club International, said that Diners Club had partnered last year with MSCC to establish its business in Africa.
MSCC was founded in part by Visa, which is the company’s largest shareholder, and is co-owned by a number of banks.
After the opening session, a number of panels addressed the fundamentals and technical aspects of innovative smart card processing.
Tune into the Daily News Egypt’s Banking page later this month for detailed session-by-session coverage.