Hussein Rifai, Chairperson and Managing Director of the Suez Canal Bank (SCB), said in an exclusive interview with Daily News Egypt, that the bank has a plan to expand its banking and non-banking financial services, and accelerate the digital transformation process.
In addition, the bank vows to continue its support to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and retail banking sectors, while continuing to finance large companies.
Rifai pointed out that the bank pumped more than EGP 400m to develop its technological infrastructure so that it can provide high-quality electronic services to customers in the coming years.
Meanwhile, the SCB places corporate social responsibility (SCR) at the top of its priorities, and seeks continuously to adopt effective programmes to serve the community.
What is the bank’s strategy for the coming period?
Our strategy in the coming years aims to push the bank’s services forward. We seek to expand banking and non-banking financial services, and support the SMEs and retail banking sectors to enhance financial inclusion, while continuing to finance major companies. The bank also works on accelerating its digital transformation process within the state and the banking sector’s orientation in this regard.
What is the bank’s growth target in 2022?
We target to achieve 15-20% growth in various fields of activity.
What are the most prominent sectors that the bank aims to expand in financing in the coming period?
We attach great importance to financing the corporate sector and major projects, whether national or private, provided that it has an economic feasibility, in a manner that serves the national economy, provides job opportunities, and stimulates economic growth. The Bank seeks to expand in electronic banking, to be one of the strongest banking institutions that offer all electronic payment methods to its customers, and to attract a new segment of young people that depend on electronic transactions.
The bank also contributes to providing syndicated loans in strategic sectors, including petroleum, electricity, real estate, contracting, food industries, and others.
What is the size of the bank’s SME financing portfolio?
Initially, the bank established its SME sector at the beginning of 2018. Afterwards, we participated in the initiative of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to finance SMEs, allocating 10% of the bank’s total financing portfolio to these projects.
During 2018, three contracts were signed with the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA) to grant the bank subsidized financing lines worth EGP 100m and re-lend them to owners of small projects and microfinance associations, which has already been completed.
A cooperation protocol was also signed with the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to finance industrial zones outside Cairo. In addition, the bank participated in the Nile Pioneers initiative, through business development centres and business incubator sponsorship. These projects are supported annually by about EGP 1.2m.
The bank launched the first specialized programme for financing small projects (pharmacies financing programme), besides a new set of specialized programmes that suits all small projects and will be launched soon.
The volume of financing for these projects increased from EGP 786m in 2018 to EGP 1.423bn in 2019 and EGP 1.542bn in June 2021, with a growth rate of 207%. During this period, more than 182 clients were financed in various economic sectors, the most important of which were the industrial and commercial sectors.
What is the size of the bank’s loan and financing portfolio?
The bank was able to increase its net loan portfolio and customer facilities to EGP 21.3bn in September 2021, with growth rates of 147.7% and 20% compared to 2016 and 2020, respectively.
The portfolio of debt instruments in September 2021 amounted to about EGP 3.6bn, an increase of EGP 800m, or 29%, compared to about EGP 2.8bn in December 2020.
Since the beginning of 2021, the bank succeeded in arranging and guaranteeing 10 issuances of securitization bonds and financial instruments (including 21 tranches).
How much is the amount of funding pumped by the bank to the industrial and contracting sectors?
The bank participated in the Central Bank of Egypt’s initiatives to support private sector companies operating in industry, contracting, and tourism, bringing the total funding under the umbrella of these initiatives so far to EGP 2.1bn.
What is the size of the bank’s mortgage finance portfolio?
We participated in the CBE’s mortgage finance initiative for the low income people. Moreover, a protocol was signed between the bank and City Edge to market and finance the latter’s units in the New Administrative Capital and New Alamein.
The volume of the bank’s mortgage financing portfolio so far amounted to approximately EGP 29m for about 175 beneficiaries, in addition to other cases that are currently under study.
The bank aims to increase the size of its mortgage financing portfolio for low and middle-income people to EGP 450m and EGP 300m within 3 years, respectively.
How much is the value of the bank’s retail portfolio?
The personal loan portfolio witnessed remarkable growth during 2021, increasing by 100% to EGP 1.6bn compared to EGP 840m in 2020. In addition, we doubled the SME portfolio in September 2021 to EGP 2.2bn, of which EGP 1.5bn in direct financing.
The bank seeks to expand further in financing obsolete cars replacement, as it has so far financed more than 286 cars with about EGP 66m.
What is the bank’s plan at the level of digital and electronic services?
During the last period, the bank expanded in offering many digital products to meet the needs of customers easily, flexibly and in a manner that suits the digital development we are witnessing in all fields.
The bank also seeks to expand in the practice of electronic banking, to be one of the strongest banking institutions that provide all electronic payment methods to its customers, and to attract a new segment of young people that depend on electronic transactions.
The bank’s strategy adopts the development of digital services and products in line with the latest developments in the field of financial technology, developing the capacity and efficiency of the infrastructure to accommodate digital transformation, employing artificial intelligence to improve services provided to customers, developing the internal work system, while applying advanced protection to ensure high levels of security for digital services, adherence to local and international standards in the field of digital payments and digital transformation, within the framework of the state’s policy towards digital transformation and financial inclusion.
To this end, the bank pumped more than EGP 400m to develop the bank’s technological infrastructure, in addition to hiring international companies to strengthen the technological infrastructure so that we can provide the best electronic service to customers in the coming years.
The bank places a priority on activating financial inclusion through digital banking services, and the bank has opened the first smart branch in the City Stars mall, consisting of the latest systems.
The bank has taken the initiative to issue a variety of products and services to attract different segments of customers, as the bank launched electronic wallet services, in addition to the availability of the electronic banking service via the Internet, e-banking, which enables customers to carry out many financial transactions without the need to visit the branch and to facilitate procedures for our customers.
In parallel, the bank launched contactless cards with all its products, in line with the latest technological developments in plastic payment cards, in order to facilitate for customers to conduct their financial transactions faster.
The bank also provides a one-stop-shop service for the payment of government expenses in cooperation with e-Finance through the branch network, in addition to working on updating the banking internet, which allows inquiry and transfer inside and outside the bank from customer accounts, launching the mobile banking service, and soon many different electronic services.
Has the coronavirus pandemic changed the bank’s priorities in the field of CSR?
During the coronavirus crisis, the bank took many effective initiatives to mitigate its impact on the neediest groups, and the initiatives included a donation of EGP 10m to face the economic repercussions due to the spread of the virus, in response to the invitation of the Federation of Egyptian Banks in 2020. An amount of EGP 5m was donated to the Tahya Misr Fund in 2021 to support and provide the Coronavirus vaccine to the eligible groups.
How does the bank approach CSR?
The SCB places social responsibility at the top of its priorities, as it continuously seeks to adopt effective programmes to serve the community, taking into account the basic needs facing the community in different areas; health; education; social solidarity; people with disabilities empowerment; youth support; entrepreneurship; providing decent life; supporting the neediest groups; preserving the environment; and raising human capabilities.
We have a department specialized in activating social responsibility activities internally with employees and externally with civil society institutions and the state to support community activities and contribute to development.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s announcement that 2022 is the year of civil society is an affirmation of the need for all parties from civil society, the private sector, and state institutions to intensify their contribution to the programmes and activities of economic and social development, achieving sustainable development goals, and Egypt’s Vision 2030.