Egypt pushes digital transformation agenda
Digital transformation is a key component of Egypt’s Vision 2030 strategy. Along with other key initiatives (ICT 2030 and Digital Egypt) it is expected to further accelerate the development of the country’s digital economy and potentially provide a blueprint for other African countries.
Egypt has made significant strides in digital transformation in recent years. Some of the notable achievements include:
Launching a digital services portal, which provides more than 70 online services for citizens and businesses including issuance of national IDs, renewal car licenses, paying taxes, and applications for subsidies
Developing a national broadband plan, which aims to increase internet penetration and provide high-speed internet access to all public institutions, schools, and health facilities
Establishing a digital identity system enabling citizens to verify their identity online using biometric data and a unique national number, and access various e-government services
Promoting e-commerce and supporting small and medium enterprises to adopt digital solutions and platforms
Enhancing digital literacy and skills - Egypt has launched several initiatives to train students, teachers, workers and entrepreneurs in the use of digital technologies
Supporting and enabling these achievements has been the government investing "heavily in upgrading and expanding telecommunications infrastructure, particularly fibre optic networks and mobile broadband services,” explains Hussein Abaza, CEO and managing director, Commercial International Bank (CIB).
The government has also initiated projects to connect public buildings to high speed internet access through the Digital Egypt project.
This digital transformation offers immense potential for economic growth, as well as for delivering social and public services more efficiently and inclusively
Growing demand for online services and platforms is another factor supporting Egypt’s digital economy. With around 60% of its more than 100 million population under the age of 30, the country’s large and youthful market offers immense potential for digital adoption and innovation as more people use smartphones, social media and e-commerce platforms to access information, entertainment, and purchases.
“A dynamic start-up ecosystem has emerged in recent years,” adds Abaza. “The country has been gearing itself to become a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation, attracting local and foreign investors, accelerators and incubators. This digital transformation offers immense potential for economic growth, as well as for delivering social and public services more efficiently and inclusively.”
CIB has played a significant role in Egypt’s digital transformation, investing heavily in technology and innovation to provide customers with a seamless experience. The bank’s early adoption of digital banking products and services was a crucial advantage, especially during the pandemic when its digitisation programme was accelerated.
This led to the creation of the Bank of the Future programme in late 2020, the six key pillars of which are service digitisation; operations centralisation; robotics; branch digital experience; branch classification; and digital sales. The programme has impacted a number of customer service areas including internal and external fund transfer migration rates, cost synergies, and transaction volumes.
Last year the programme was extended to business banking customers where robotic process automation (RPA) has contributed to productivity enhancement, saving time, effort, and costs. The total number of transactions processed via RPA reached 1.25 million by the end of 2022.
Online platforms have become a highly effective digital sales channel that now contribute 48% of the bank’s total annual CDs/TDs booking in terms of volume and 44% in terms of value. This has enabled CIB to reduce branch traffic and enhance the customer experience.
Banking in the future
The launch of the Bank of the Future programme has helped CIB to encourage greater use of digital services as an alternative to traditional banking methods. Two-thirds of its customer base now uses online banking, with 2.2 million internet banking transactions valued at approximately EGP65.6 billion executed last year, a 13% y-o-y increase.
The online banking customer base reached 1.3 million users in 2022 (25% higher than in the previous year) while mobile banking transactions increased by 57% to 11.4 million. Zaki the Bot – CBI’s AI-powered chat bot - conducted over 488,000 interactions on both the public website and Facebook Messenger.
“Our digital readiness enables us to support our customers and the wider community,” says Abaza. “The success of our digital transformation efforts lies in putting the customer’s needs at the heart of product and service development. We advocate for the customer during all process redesigns, digital upgrades, and enhancements, helping translate an understanding of customer needs into clear system requirements.”
CIB’s ‘bank-as-a-service’ infrastructure enables fintechs and corporates to interact directly through application programming interfaces or APIs and it has adopted new technologies, such as the instant payment network (IPN) that creates a real-time interoperable ecosystem allowing instant, seamless transfers through digital channels or payment service provider applications.