CAIRO: Fawry announced Wednesday the launch of its electronic bill payment service at 700 retailers in Cairo and Alexandria, which will allow customers to pay in cash their bills for the participating service providers without having to visit their representative offices.
So far biller companies which have contracted Fawry include: Vodafone, Mobinil, Etisalat, Telecom Egypt, Link DSL, TE Data and CIL. Fawry is also seeking to sign up utilities companies, sporting clubs, universities, schools, insurance and personal finance firms.
Fawry’s newly launched service is targeting the under-banked and unbanked consumers, which comprise about 90 percent of the population, said Magda Habib, chief commercial officer at Fawry.
“The customer who doesn’t have a bank account can go to a retailer which has the Fawry sign on the door and tell him, ‘I want to pay my Telecom Egypt bill.’ So the retailer keys in his phone number on the POS [point of sale machine], the POS tells him how much he owes Telecom Egypt. [The customer] gives him [the amount] in cash, he puts it in his till and [the customer] gets a receipt for having paid the bill, explained Habib.
She added that Fawry then reconciles the money paid with the retailer and the biller, so that the latter receives the right amount.
“The payment points were chosen from pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores where customers regularly visit during their daily routine to buy frequently needed goods, making accessibility to Fawry easier, said Mohamed Okasha, managing director of Fawry’s retail division.
Fawry bought a retail census from a market research company in Egypt which grouped retailers across the country in five categories: class A through class E. The company approached class A and B which are bigger retailers with more employees and already equipped with technology. The retailers which signed up with Fawry were given free employee training and updating of POS machines.
In addition to the cash payment through retailers, Fawry offers an ATM bill payment option, which was launched in December last year. This option allows customers to pay their service bills by using their bank card at an ATM and transferring directly the money from their bank account.
Four banks already have Fawry as an active service at their ATMs: Banque Misr, Bank of Alexandria, Banque Du Caire and the National Bank of Egypt. Together they provide access to Fawry at 2,200 ATMs. Throughout the year, six other banks will be enabling Fawry on their ATMs bringing the number to a total of 3,000 ATM access points. These banks include: Credit Agricole Egypt, Arab African International Bank, Commercial International Bank, BNP Paribas, United Bank and HSBC.
Payment service providers, both online and in-store, are widely popular in Europe, North America and Australia, as they allow customers to avoid lengthy errand running by paying bills electronically. Before entering the Egyptian market, Fawry conducted in-depth consumer research in Egypt and found that an average Egyptian family has to pay 12 different bills. Different payment methods, locations and overlapping working hours make it difficult for families with two working parents to cope with bill payment.
“Our core target segment is a young married couple that is in the medium income bracket. They have many bills to pay but they don’t have a maid at home for when the home collector comes. They are not rich enough to have a driver or a secretary to send them off to pay their bills, so they have to take time off their work to go and pay a bill, explained Habib.
Witnessing significant growth since the company’s establishment in 2008, Fawry sees opportunities for expansion in Egypt.
“The Fawry network offers limitless possibilities for the future in terms of bill presentment and payment in Egypt thanks to the tremendous investment made in its technology as well as its flexibility in being able to support virtually any payment for almost any good or service, said Ashraf Sabry, CEO of Fawry.
By the end of the year, Fawry will be launching an online service through the online banking websites of its partner bansk. Starting 2011, it will also be expanding its services to the major cities of governorates across Egypt.