Dante Campioni, managing director & CEO of ALEXBANK, said that achieving financial inclusion requires private and public sector banks and companies to join efforts with authorities. He pointed out that the limited financial literacy and lack of understanding of technological advancement are the main obstacles for financial inclusion, stressing that Egyptian banks are qualified to support the achievement of financial inclusion.
What is ALEXBANK’s role in supporting the state’s efforts to achieve financial inclusion?
ALEXBANK has given its full support to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE)’s recent initiative launched under the umbrella of the “Arab Financial Inclusion Week”, activating a multi-pillar campaign that includes distributing brochures provided by the CBE to the bank staff and targeted segments as explanatory and guidance material; launching a marketing campaign through social media portals in addition to hosting the “Arab Financial Inclusion Week” on the bank’s official website and Facebook page; approaching mostly remote and underprivileged areas through some specifically equipped bank trucks, visiting new areas every day to spread awareness and offering the opening of new accounts; and relaunching and promoting a series of educational web episodes on social media, titled “Ask The Expert”, featuring a popular influencer to help cater, educate, and answer common questions related to banking terminologies in an easy and humorous manner, and covering basic banking topics.
This campaign, launched in January 2017, has already reached over 10 million viewers. Additionally, ALEXBANK is offering product promotions, such as waiving account opening fees for New To Bank (NTB) clients; waiving operating fees for the Micro Depositor accounts for one year; waiving Micro-Loans Administration fees; and issuing pre-paid cards with no issuance fees. The bank is also offering 50% off of remittance commissions.
In your opinion, what is needed to achieve financial inclusion?
Achieving full financial inclusion requires joint efforts of the authorities and private and public sector banks and companies. This is exactly the logic of the financial inclusion week campaign now ongoing. In this sense the new available technologies and the diffusion of internet connectivity offer new opportunities that banks and other institutions seem more and more keen to quickly exploit. Also the automation of cash services, through the deployment of new multi-function ATMs, the adoption of POS, and the diffusion of mobile banking solutions, will continuously increase the opportunity to access financial services and at a cheaper cost. In order to support this movement, the role of the monetary and general public authorities will be fundamental, as the regulatory environment should also favour more and more the continuous decrease of the role of cash in the economy, based on the improved availability and accessibility of electronic cash solutions.
Is the technological infrastructure of banks operating in the Egyptian market capable of achieving financial inclusion? Do we need to upgrade it in terms of online banking, ATMs, geographical penetration, etc.?
Yes. I believe that Egyptian banks are qualified to support the achievement of financial inclusion. It’s obvious that banks took vital steps towards this goal. There is an expansion in digital financial services using the internet and mobile phones, under the supervision of the CBE, which has recently issued new regulations to assure a sound environment for mobile payments. Yet, banks have to exert more efforts in expanding their reach of the population and their network of ATMs and POSs, constantly simplifying the access and usability of these tools.
What are the major obstacles for financial inclusion?
I would like to consider mainly the obstacles on which we, as a bank, can—or must—work on. For this I would highlight the limited financial literacy that determines a general lack of awareness about the importance of the role of a trustable and sound banking system as is the case of Egypt and the financial services it can offer; the limited familiarity with technological advancements and newly introduced digital financial services; the still unsatisfactory matching of all clients’ needs; and the low geographical penetration in remote and unprivileged areas of banking services.
ALEXBANK is fully aware of these areas of improvement and is strongly committed to work hard on these, recognising that this will make its progress more sustainable, together with the improvement of the economy and Egypt as a whole.