Promoting financial inclusion in Egypt
Egypt has made strides towards financial inclusion as part of the country’s Vision 2030 strategy. Commercial International Bank (CIB) is one bank that is playing an important role is supporting the issue and addressing challenges around women’s economic empowerment.
Financial indicators from the Central Bank of Egypt for 2022 showed a significant increase in the number of women who owned a transactional account in the period between 2016 and 2022. It found that 18.3 million women owned a transactional account by the end of last year, an increase of 210% compared to 2016.
While this progress is promising, further steps need to be taken as women’s access to finance remains disproportionately low.
CIB has been working on several initiatives to empower women by increasing their financial literacy and use of financial services from lending, saving, and insurance products to sending money and paying bills
The bank has been working closely with the Central Bank of Egypt, non-governmental entities, and women-led companies to increase inclusion of women in the financial sector.
During International Women’s Month in March this year, the bank offered financial inclusion products that were easy and free to access. For instance, the bank offered accounts with no opening fees, that had no minimum account balance requirements, and only required a national ID to facilitate the on- boarding process and eliminate unnecessary documentation with minimal fees.
CIB also sponsored an annual event of an all-inclusive support platform for Egyptian mothers, which brought together more than 15,000 women in which the bank provided financial literacy to a percentage of them and on-boarded them onto financial inclusion products during the event.
In-line with Hayah Karima or ‘decent life’, an initiative endorsed by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi with the aim of improving the quality of life in the poorest rural communities, CIB, together with National Council of Women and the Central Bank of Egypt, is providing financial literacy sessions in several Egyptian governorates. This highlights the importance of digital financial services as an enabler to the women’s needs/ambitions.
Specific 'KYC-light' products (only require a national ID to onboard) offered include:
· Bedaya accounts for women and female entrepreneurs, especially housewives with no income proof or professionals who do not have a commercial register for their women-led business. By only providing a valid national ID, CIB allows the unbanked to seamlessly open accounts without the need for burdensome documentation - one of the major barriers to accessing financial services
· Mobile wallet - the CIB smart wallet is a mobile application that supports daily financial transactions such as sending money, paying bills, and purchasing online and in-store
· Meeza prepaid cards - a prepaid card with low fees and few onboarding restrictions
CIB is also capitalising on the latest services and products provided by these fintechs, by continuously orchestrating partnerships with related start-ups to help it achieve financial inclusion targets set by the Central Bank of Egypt and empowering lower income segments.
“CIB has always been committed to developing the fintech ecosystem in Egypt and this is reflected through our ongoing sponsorship of the American University in Cairo (AUC) fintech track, offering access to accelerators and incubators, and mentorship of Egyptian start-ups,” says Abaza.
“Our view of the importance of fintechs was manifested in the creation of a dedicated team for assisting fintechs, which works with all potential start-ups that could disrupt or complement our business model.”