The financial institutions operation company e-finance aims to achieve revenues worth EGP 500m in 2017. The company’s priority is expanding in northern and central African markets to implement its expansion plan in the region so as to open its resources of US dollar income.
CEO Ibrahim Sarhan told Daily News Egypt that the production capacity of the company’s affiliated centre is 60m smartcards per year.
What are the main features of your plans for 2017?
Next year, we aim to achieve EGP 500m in revenues from the total projects with government and private agencies.
The main features of the company’s plan lies in strengthening its smartcards centre which produces 4.5m cards monthly and offers bill issuance services for most private and governmental agencies.
Moreover, we will be concentrating on countries in North and Central Africa to offer smartcard services and benefit from the production capacities of the card centre, as well as open new resources to attract US dollars funds from the foreign market.
In this aspect, the company has entered into contracts with Visa and MasterCard and issued nearly 5m cards in 2015 and 2016 for these companies. This is proof of the company’s ability to expand in the African market.
Over the past few months, the company has formed a team specialised in hunting investment opportunities in foreign markets so as to increase the company’s presence in neighbouring regional markets. Work will begin officially in early 2017.
What is the production capacity of the card centre?
The production capacity is 60m smartcards annually. This amount is able to cover the needs of the local market and export to foreign markets.
Why are you focusing on strengthening your card issuance centre?
e-finance owns technological infrastructure in the fields of payments and collection which allows it to contribute to the implementation of the state’s plan to adopt electronic payments for all financial transactions instead of cash by 2030.
The state has taken serious steps in the this regard, including forming an electronic payments council, in accordance to a decision by the Supreme Council for Investment to cooperate with the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to automate all payments by 2030.
The main reason we are strengthening the cards centre is that all government payments will depend on our services in their plans to transform the system from cash payments to electronic payments. We issue 25m smartcards to various governmental and private agencies.
In recent years, we have achieved noticeable success in the first phase of changing from cash to electronic payments. The first phase includes offering technological infrastructure services to the governmental sector. Many major projects were implemented for governmental agencies, including the Tax Authority and the electronic system for gasoline.
What is the effect of the change in the exchange rate on your activity?
We were greatly affected by it, especially as most of our governmental contracting is being implemented with governmental agencies.
What are your plans to increase capital?
The company is made up of shareholders, namely a number of banks. They include the National Investment Bank with a 70% share, the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) with 10%, Banque Misr with 10%, and the Egyptian Banks Company with 10%.
Shareholders agreed to increase our capital by EGP 25m to reach EGP 250m by the start of 2017, in order to contribute to developing the card centre, expand offered services, and export to foreign markets.
What were the main projects implemented for the government sector during the past period? What projects are upcoming?
The company has provided an integrated electronic system for the Egyptian government’s monetary support programme—part of the Karama and Takaful projects—through issuing smartcards for it in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Solidarity.
e-finance continues its cooperation with the Ministry of Military Production in implementing several projects, most prominently the mechanisation of agricultural holdings and supporting regulatory agencies in building their own database.
The mechanisation project will work to limit violations on agricultural land and implement the state’s agricultural policies, in addition to developing the management and administration at different working levels across the Ministry of Agriculture’s departments, directorates, and different sectors.
The company has completed the issue of 7.1m smartcards to pensioners for the benefit of the Ministry of Social Solidarity, in addition to the issuance of 1.7m MasterCards to the social solidarity pensions and prepaid Visa cards to Egypt Post customers.
The company has also completed the issuance of 6.8m smartcards to support petroleum products in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance.
What are the stages for the implementation of this project?
Implementing the system will be carried out over two phases. The first is calculating and registering agricultural acquisitions across Egypt—estimated at nearly 7m—in addition to distributing and operating computers for the Ministry of Agriculture and all departments in order to enter and modify the data for seasonal agricultural calculations. This is besides printing and distributing 7m subsidy cards to those who qualify based on the policy determined by the state, as well as offering training, maintenance, and technical support to all users of the system.
The second phase includes distributing and operating tablet devices for agricultural societies so as to enter and modify agricultural calculations data, as well as opening all lines of communication for the system so as to connect the agricultural associations to the system and offer training to all its users.
Moreover, the company will continue to implement its projects for governmental agencies within the plan to change to electronic payments. These [services?] are automatically renewed, like issuing cards for employees’ salaries, as well as electronic collections for the tax and custom authorities.
What new services does the company plan to launch?
e-finance has launched a new service, Khales, to serve the retail sector.
The new service is an electronic complex for the payment of bills. The process can be done via the e-finance website, a smartphone application, or payment points in shops.
Khales will offer payment services for most governmental and non-governmental bills, in addition to electricity bills, Real Estate Financing Fund, the General Authority for Investment, the New Urban Communities Authority, donations, and mobile and internet services.
The company has obtained the CBE’s approval to launch the application and offer services through mobile phones.
Why have you chosen the retail sector?
The company decided to develop its strategy in the local market, and add electronic payment services for individuals alongside the growth of their financial transactions. This made the company utilise the developed infrastructure it owns, as well as implement an investment strategy for individuals to benefit electronic payment processes, meet their needs, and create guaranteed and safe ways of payment in the Egyptian market.
Do you have plans to utilise the card issuance centre to produce communication cards for mobile companies?
The company has installed new production lines for the issuance of mobile service cards: GSM SIM Telecom Cards.
The new SIM production lines in the centre have the ability to produce 6m cards monthly, as the smartcards production lines can mix machines to produce the other types of cards, including smart contact cards and dual interface smartcards.
The centre works through three shifts over 24 hours to achieve the highest production and technology capacity in Egypt, as well as the Middle East and Africa, with the highest levels of safety and security for the data of exported cards.