Banking sector witnesses major shift in methods of providing services

Hossam Mounir
12 Min Read

Recent times have witnessed a significant shift in the way banks provide banking services, particularly with regards to individual services or retail banking. Banks are shifting toward using technology to provide those services and reducing the role that conventional bank branches currently play.

Banks’ reliance on technology to provide services to individuals in particular has grown quite clearly over the past year, since the Egyptian banking sector witnessed the introduction of new technology.

The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) revealed the launch of its new Interactive Teller Machine (ITM) mid-2015, thanks to NCR Banking Services, a global specialist in automated banking. According to the bank’s President of Products and Banking Sales for Individuals and Alternative Channels, Alaa Farouk, this step constituted a major development in the field of banking technology.

Farouk explained that the machine allows customers to conduct most of their banking through audiovisual communication with bank employees over video conference 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This interactive device also allows for withdrawals and cash deposits, check deposits, and transfers between customer accounts, and can also answer inquiries on NBE services or products.

Farouk said this device operates under the Activate programme, the latest to be issued by NCR. It allows employees to issue orders to the machine and control it through his or her computer system.

The machine also provides a headset through which the customer can speak with a bank employee in complete privacy, and an electronic signature feature and a place to scan National ID cards. This allows employees to verify the client’s identity and the integrity of their documents before completing the process. According to Farouk, the machine can also accept checks, and is equipped with the latest technology to verify them.

The machine ensures the customer’s ability to receive approximately 95% of banking services through it, instead of visiting the bank’s branches, allowing banks to provide their services outside conventional working hours at many sites and at a lower cost.

Farouk emphasised that the bank aims to expand the use of these ITMs and hopes to install 10 more throughout 2016.

NBE also hoped to install 2000 MPOS machines to allow customers to make payments to any party from any location. This would represent a major shift from pay-by-mail services, which differ from online and mobile versions of these services.

Before the end of 2015, Bank Audi Egypt announced the introduction of a NOVO device that allows customers to obtain a variety of banking services in the shortest possible amount of time.

According to the bank’s Chairman and Managing Director, Hatem Sadek, this technology, which comes to the Egyptian market for the first time, represents a quantum leap for the bank’s customers in Egypt.

NOVO technology provides a range of sophisticated banking services in an easy and simple manner through a number of interactive devices and smart screens. The device also offers an “Advisory Room”, the first of its kind on the Egyptian market.

The technology also allows for some banking transactions to take place in greater privacy and audiovisual communication with customer service representatives.

The Advisory Room is equipped with the latest technology and allows customers to apply for a personal loan, request a credit card, make a deposit, request a discount card, or send a transfer between personal accounts.

NOVO is also equipped with an “Information Station”, which allows customers to review all products and services offered by Bank Audi and access a wide range of cards, loans, and accounts of all types. The Information Station also has information on bank insurance products, according to Sadeq.

The device allows customers to send a message to the bank so that a representative may respond, send email, or communicate with the customer audio-visually. Bank Audi Egypt now has one NOVO device and has begun testing it at its Zamalek branch. It hopes to add three more devices in 2016.

The ITM and NOVO are distinctive, but both were launched on the Egyptian market for the first time in 2015. This year, the bank launched many other advanced products. Banque Misr offered a money transfer and receipt service called Injaz this year through ATMs to make it easier for customers to conduct money transfer operations at any time easily and quickly.

Banque Misr has an advanced network of approximately 1,400 ATMs. These machines provide withdrawal and deposit, currency exchange, bill payment and donation, and cash transfer services with or without the use of a card, and the machines are equipped with the latest technology.

Emirates NBD-Egypt also launched an innovative range of banking services for major customers called the Priority Banking Proposition.

According to Head of Retail Banking, Wealth Management, and the Banking Sector Frederick De Milker, customers with average quarterly account balances starting from EGP 350,000 or a monthly income transfer of EGP 20,000 may enjoy this new package of banking services recently launched by the bank.

According to Head of Priority Banking Services at the bank, Ayman Gamgoum, Emirates NBD aims to offer a package of premium banking services to provide opportunities for outstanding customers to obtain the best banking services with the utmost ease and convenience.

He said the bank facilitates and provides all methods of modern communication with customers through a call centre, and implements the latest technologies and banking services via Internet, along with a large network of ATMs. Banking services may also be accessed via mobile phone through one of the latest technologies present in Egypt.

Further, the Arab African International Bank launched EDUINVEST programmes to fund various educational stages before the end of 2015, in keeping their strategy to invest in education.

The programme includes three types of credit facilities, with a funding value of up to 100% for the various stages of educational expenses.

According to Director of Loan Banking Products Mohammed Behnsawy, this programme is divided into a number of sub-programmes. The first is EDUINVEST-Start Up, which aims to finance tuition from kindergarten through high school or university, for which premiums are paid within one year.

EDUINVEST-Level Up is suitable for university and higher education, and premiums are paid over seven years. The value of the interest is paid during the first three years while the principle and returns are paid over the following four years.

EDUINVEST-Step Up is also suitable for university education and postgraduate studies but only limited premiums are paid at the beginning of the payment period, and increase gradually until the entire loan is paid over seven years.

Barclays Egypt has also launched an innovative banking service, which allows bank customers access to retail banking services, such as credit cards and personal loans. Through the Internet service available on the bank’s website, customers can complete these transactions through the simplest procedures and in the fastest amount of time possible.

Using the new service, customers wishing to obtain retail banking services from Barclays can fill out personal information on the website, and within the next 24 hours a bank representative will call the customer to inform them that their request has been initially approved if they meet all of the conditions required.

At the beginning of the year, Commercial International Bank-Egypt (CIB-Egypt) launched the Smart Service Portfolio to expand its financial services to the widest possible number of citizens.

The Smart Portfolio, offered by CIB-Egypt in cooperation with MasterCard, Fawry, and other banks in Egypt for the sake of technological progress, represents a radical shift from conventional payment methods on the Egyptian market. Bank customers are provided with an advanced, safe, quick, and smart technological banking experience.

This portfolio, launched for the first time in Egypt, allows customers to deposit and withdraw money through a network of bank ATMs without using a card. Smart Portfolio also grants its users ease of payment and direct purchase via mobile phone through simple and easy steps.

The user can also inquire about all mobile phone, electricity, and Internet bills, renew their drivers’ license, and obtain other services, including paying those bills, recharging mobile phone credit, sending money to another individual with a Smart Portfolio, and withdrawing money from the portfolio through any Fawry outlet.

Smart portfolio holders can issue a secure card to make Internet purchases up to a certain amount of money and any CIB card holders can link their card to the portfolio in order to add money at any time and from any location.

According to the bank CEO of Electronic Banking Services and Chairman of International Banking Transactions Mohamed Farag, launching the smart portfolio service supports the state’s vision of encouraging financial service provision in the best possible manner and on a broad scale to all groups within society. This vision also includes accelerating the pace of economic growth by attracting new customers to the banking sector.

According to the bank’s Head of Development Strategies and Innovation at the Electronic Banking Sector, Mohamed Sabban, steady growth in mobile phone use has provided a great opportunity for banking institutions to broaden financial service provision to reach the largest possible number of users.

His team helped the bank exploit the potential for innovation and creativity by developing sophisticated electronic payment solutions, which rely on mobile phone technology.

Banks have not sufficed with attracting modern technology to the Egyptian market, and instead scrutinise their potential employees to check whether they are capable of following up on and investigating the technological changes occurring across the world, not just in Egypt.

Bankers believe that despite the rising costs associated with updating technological systems at banks to make electronic banking services – such as internet and mobile banking – available, banks will be able to utilise these products in the long-term to cut operation costs. These products will provide access to customers without expanding conventional branches.

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