Credit Agricole’s business strategy comes into line with Egypt’s objectives: Deputy Managing Director

Hossam Mounir
12 Min Read

Walie El-Din Lotfy, Deputy Managing Director for Business Sector at Credit Agricole Egypt, said that the bank’s business strategy comes into line with the Egyptian government’s objectives.

In an exclusive interview with Daily News Egypt, Lotfy said that the bank mainly directs financing toward the sectors that the Egyptian state needs and aims to develop. The bank aims to be an effective contributor to the Egyptian economy. It is also committed to supporting community development and preserving the environment.

He pointed out that the bank has an important role in introducing French investors to the Egyptian market, and that it plans to hold a major international conference to this end, stressing that the Egyptian-French relations are now at their best.

Lotfy stressed that the bank has a very strong budget, and it can provide US dollar financing without the help of the parent bank.


How does the bank contribute to the Egyptian economy?

The bank provides various banking services, whether financing or transactions, to all sectors. It finances large, small, and medium enterprises, in addition to mortgage finance. We do not exclude any sector, and our work comes into line with the Egyptian government’s objectives with regard to development and growth.


What is the bank’s role in supporting trade relations between Egypt and France?

The Egyptian-French relations are now at their best, and there is strategic cooperation in all sectors. Credit Agricole is part of this relation. We offer help when needed to seal economic deals between Egypt and France.


Does the bank encourage French investors to work in the Egyptian market?

Egypt has recently received a high-level French delegation, and of course the bank attended the meetings that took place between the French delegation and Egyptian officials. The bank played an important role in introducing French investors to investment opportunities in Egypt, and the bank is also planning to hold a major international conference for investors and experts in some sectors, to present investment opportunities in Egypt. This conference was scheduled to be held some time ago, but due to the pandemic and then the Russian-Ukrainian war, we postponed it for some time. We are committed to holding it as soon as possible.


What are the top sectors that receive financing from the bank?

First of all, we finance all sectors, but of course we may focus on certain ones. Basically, we direct financing toward the sectors that Egypt seeks to develop, such as food, medicine, and others. In other words, our business strategy comes into line with the Egyptian government’s objectives. We are also committed to supporting the development of Egyptian society and preserving the environment.


What does the bank contribute to mortgage financing initiatives?

The bank is very interested in financing this sector, and this stems from the parent group’s interest in this sector as well. Credit Agricole provides one in three mortgage loans in France. In Egypt, we are working to support this sector whether through the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) initiatives or separately. We have already signed a cooperation protocol with the Social Housing and Mortgage Finance Fund. We have a good portfolio for this sector, and we aim to double it by the end of this year.


In light of the Egyptian pound depreciation against the US dollar, does the bank receive support from the parent group to offer foreign-exchange finance?

No, our budget is very strong, and we can finance any operation that requires foreign currency without the help of the parent bank.


Has the bank increased its capital to match the limit stipulated in the new Banking Law?

We increased the bank’s issued and paid-up capital to EGP 5bn in December 2021, from EGP 1.243bn in 2020, an increase of 302.04%. The bank has complied with the requirements of the new Banking Law No. 194 of 2020, which obligated banks operating in the Egyptian market to increase their capital to minimum EGP 5bn instead of EGP 500m.


What is your plan for geographical expansion within the Egyptian market?

The bank is present in most of the Egyptian governorates. In Upper Egypt, for example, the bank has branches in Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Luxor, Qena, and Aswan. We also have branches in Tanta, Banha, Damietta, Shebin El-Kom, and soon in Sharqeya. The bank aims to open three to five new branches this year to grow its network to 85-87 branches.

On the other hand, we managed to expand the bank’s ATM network from 190 to 250 machines in 2021, to implement our digital strategy and enhance efforts to reach customers in various governorates. Based on a geographical study, these ATMs were installed in the areas where there are no ATMs in order to enhance the customer experience and support financial inclusion, in line with the directives of the CBE.


The bank has recently opened a new Banki Store branch. What is the type of services these branches offer?

We have opened a new Banki Store branch in the Palm Strip Mall in 6th of October City, the 82nd branch of the bank in Egypt. It was also the 15th branch of this type. The concept of the Banki Store was launched at the end of 2018, and it is part of the bank’s strategy to expand its presence in urban areas. The Banki Store mainly aims to increase customer satisfaction by providing innovative services and solutions. We plan to turn all of our branches into a Banki Store within three to five years.

Through the new branch, Crédit Agricole provides a complete and comprehensive digital experience for all its customers, as it balances between digital services and banking consultancy, under the slogan “100% digital, 100% human”. Thus, the new branch embodies one of Crédit Agricole’s main values, which is benefiting the community and being the closest bank to customers.

The innovative Banki Store branches are characterized by optimizing operations to reduce paper consumption and ensure quick service. In addition, customers can view their account statements and transactions on mobile phones and various devices running iOS or Android.

Customer service staffers in these branches devote more time to strengthening the relationship with customers, providing them with optimal and customized financial solutions for all their projects.

The new branch in Palm Strip Mall is the culmination of Crédit Agricole’s efforts towards financial inclusion, by providing a full range of banking services and activated digital activities for various segments of society.


How does the bank contribute to financial inclusion and digital transformation in the Egyptian market?

The CBE strongly promotes financial inclusion and digital services. Banks operating in the Egyptian market, including Credit Agricole, are witnessing a continuous transformation to remain competitive in the face of market challenges, innovative technologies, and ever-changing customer requirements.

Our goal is to be among the best banks in Egypt, we are working to develop our banking services and provide innovative solutions to achieve the highest level of experience and customer satisfaction.

We also strive to always be one of the top banks and provide new services to meet customer needs, lead digital transformation and achieve sustainable growth. The Bank has injected significant investments in infrastructure projects to support the digital transformation process and protect customers from cybersecurity risks.


How many customers do use the bank’s digital services?

One in three of our customers use the bank’s digital products. In 2021, the number of active digital service users increased by 22%, which led to a significant increase in digital transactions by 44% for individuals and 113% for corporate.

The bank is also working with a group of clubs to turn their membership cards into bank cards, like the Shooting Club and Sporting Club in Alexandria. About 350,000 membership cards in the two clubs were converted into bank cards.


When will the bank join the Instant Payment Network recently launched by the CBE?

We aim to be one of the first banks to join the Instant Payment Network. We totally support this orientation of the CBE’s.


Does the bank consider setting up payment companies, or obtaining a digital bank licence?

Not at the moment. We are constantly developing our banking services through our digital channels.


Did the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr’s offering of the 18% savings certificates affect the bank’s deposit portfolio?

We all know that offering these savings certificates comes during exceptional circumstances, and serves economic goals, and we must help achieve this goal. We witnessed the issuance of similar certificates with high returns before, such as the 20% certificates. Such certificates may have a limited impact on the bank.

We are studying the interest rates on our savings certificates and the market trends to make the right decision at the right time.


Does the bank need to allocate provisions to potential credit risks due to the Russian-Ukrainian war?

No, we do not have any direct or indirect dealings with Russia or Ukraine. With regard to import operations, there are no risks to the financial position of the bank. The bank’s numbers and performance indicators for the first quarter of this year are to be announced soon, and will show a significant improvement in the performance of the bank.

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