The Commercial International Bank-Egypt (CIB-Egypt) aims to attract more customers by expanding its electronic services, according to a number of the bank’s leaders.
CIB-Egypt held a press conference on Wednesday to announce its new “Smart Wallet” service for electronic payments through mobile phones. The new service comes in cooperation with MasterCard, Fawry for banking and payment technology services, and the Egyptian Banks Company (EBC).
CEO of Consumer Banking at CIB-Egypt Mohamed El-Toukhy, Head of Global Transaction Services Mohamed Farag, and Head of Digital Innovation Mohamed El-Sabban spoke in the conference. CEO of Fawry Ashraf Sabri, MasterCard Egypt Country Manager Magdy Hassan, and Business Development General Manager at EBC Ashraf Saleh also participated in the conference.
According to El-Toukhy, CIB’s Smart Wallet will help Egypt achieve financial inclusion and will help the citizens and the bank as well. There are approximately 10 million customers dealing with the bank. Their target is 50 million, which can be achieved through such products that CIB launches.
El-Toukhy explained that the plan is to activate the Smart Wallet in large governorates first, mainly Greater Cairo and Alexandria. After that, the service will be introduced nationwide, even in smaller villages. This will be achieved in cooperation with CIB’s partners, such as Fawry.
He also said that serving small customers cost the bank more than the revenues it makes. However, under the current technological developments, this cost has been significantly reduced. Consequently, the banks were able to present their small customers with services of comparable quality to those presented to their larger customers.
According to Farag, the new service comes in support of the state’s plans to expand and improve financial services for all segments of society. This is in addition to hastening the pace of economic development by attracting new customers who are not registered in the banking system.
Farag explained that this service was launched after a year and half of hard work to reach the largest possible number of customers, wherever these customers are, and with the lowest possible cost. This allows for more financial inclusion of citizens in banks.
He continued that, in the past, banks used to wait for customers to open an account and then grant them their services; now the customers use the banks’ services outside the banks, wherever they are.
According to El-Sabban, the steady growth of mobile phone use was a major opportunity for banking institutions to expand the financial services they offer, allowing them to reach more customers.
He said this situation helped the bank’s team develop advanced payment solutions, relying on mobile technology. The Smart Wallet service launched by the bank is a radical change in the payment methods in the Egyptian market, whereby it enables customers to receive their services faster and more safely.
“This Smart Wallet provides the service of depositing and withdrawing from and to the wallet through the bank’s ATM network without using cards, for the first time in Egypt. It grants its users the ability to pay and directly buy easily via mobiles through simple and easy steps for everybody,” El-Sabban said.
The Smart Wallet service enables users to inquire about and pay all mobile phone, internet, and electricity bills, renew their car licenses, recharge their mobile’s credit, and many other services, he said.
The Smart Wallet user can send money to any other customer using the service, in addition to withdrawing money from and depositing into the wallet through Fawry outlets.
According to El-Sabban, Smart Wallet users can issue a safe card with a limit to buy through the Internet. The users of any of the bank’s cards can link their cards to the Smart Wallet to deposit money on it at any time and place.
He said he expects the Smart Wallet to see high demand among all age groups because of the value-added services and the ease of use of the presented applications. The bank focuses on spreading its services to its customers and to non-CIB customers. The bank has followed this approach for the past three years.
The bank opens three to four branches monthly, with about 187 branches so far. However, in spite of this spread, it will not be able to handle the number of customers it aims to attract. Therefore, it had to direct to the electronic services, which includes the Smart Wallet.
The money transfer operations that will be conducted through this wallet will be limited to the local level, at least for now, El-Sabban said. Technically, this service can be used to transfer money locally and abroad, especially with MasterCard as a partner in providing the service. However, the instructions of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) currently prohibit this.
El-Sabban said the service is free for three months, starting from the day it launched on Wednesday. After this period, the cost will be calculated depending on the services the customer will receive through the Smart Wallet. Moreover, the customers do not need to pay any charges in advance to use the service.
“We have to address the different citizens in the manner they understand and can deal with,” he said.
The bank was dedicated to communicating with the youths in universities, he said, taking into consideration their suggestions on how to provide the banking services. The bank was able to sell approximately 2,200 cards to one university and 1,450 to another.
According to El-Sabban, Egypt is witnessing significant development in terms of communications and technological services infrastructure, exceeding that of some Gulf countries. There is continuous development in the communication networks needed to activate some of the bank’s services, such as the Smart Wallet.
According to MasterCard Country Manager Egypt Magdy Hassan, the relation between MaserCard and CIB began approximately 15 years ago, over which a number of successful initiatives and products were launched.
Hassan believes Egypt is considered one of the promising countries in the field of electronic payments, noting that the only requirement from citizens is to have a mobile phone, which is achievable since each citizen in Egypt has at least one mobile.
Achieving financial inclusion in Egypt is no longer difficult, since there is an integrated system now helping achieve that goal, led by the government, in cooperation with banks.
He noted that it is important to spread awareness on the importance of dealing through banks and that CBE Governor Tarek Amer highlighted this point more than once during their meetings together.
According to Sabri, banks have increasingly been switching to digital methods, which facilitate providing services. He said any customer can use any of the services whenever and wherever they are at a lower cost.
Sabri said that if there are 10 million customers registered in a bank, it is very important to maintain these customers, and not to limit their dealing with the banks to simply withdrawing their salaries.
Linking the institutions operating in the country to the electronic payment system creates new mechanisms to the transactions in Egypt, as well as reducing the time the Egyptians spend in paying in cash.
He said disbursing governmental and other payments electronically eliminates any corruption that may occur while dealing through cash. This in turn means that this issue has a significant national dimension, besides its role in facilitating financial transactions for citizens.
Sabri revealed that there are 50,000 authorised Fawry outlets throughout Egypt, and about 15 million people who deal with Fawry’s network, noting that there is a plan to increase its presence in remote areas.
He emphasised the importance of dealing with citizens through the methods that suit them, noting that cash transactions still exist worldwide in spite of the great developments in the field of electronic payment.
According to Saleh, EBC, which manages the National Switch of Electronic Payments, now manages the Automated Clearing Room (ACH), ATMs networks, and the National Switch of the Mobile Phone Smart Wallets. All the infrastructure for the National Switch has been linked to the Smart Wallet system.
Saleh said the company agreed to link the Smart Wallets system to the more than 8,500 ATMs it manages.
He revealed that there is also a plan aiming to link ATMs affiliated to Egypt Post to the ATMs’ networks managed by EBC. It will also link the branches of the Principal Bank for Development and Agricultural Credit and Nasser Social Bank to the National Switch to install Electronic Points of Sale (EPOS) devices there.