NCR International ATM manufacturer aims to increase its business in Egypt to EGP 1bn in the next three years, according to Managing Director of NCR Corporation for the Africa Region Usama El-Sayed.
In an interview with Daily News Egypt, El-Sayed said the company’s business volume in Egypt is EGP 500m annually and has a strategy to double that figure over the next three years.
Egypt has about 8,200 ATMs, 90% of which are manufactured by NCR. He said Egypt is one of the company’s most important locations worldwide, whereby the office in Egypt is used to conduct business in five other African countries.
Tell us more about NCR, its establishment, and its activity.
NCR is an international company based in Atlanta, Georgia in the US and was founded in 1884. It has been operating in the field of information technology but recently branched out to operations related to automating transactions with clients from most sectors including banks, insurance, hotels, restaurants, airports, communications, and retail.
When did the company enter the Egyptian market?
The company has been present in Egypt since 1936, with a focus on serving the banking sector. Its most prominent product here is self-service banking with ATMs standing at the forefront of its offerings.
However the company offers other services related to ATM operations, such as ATM Network Management, maintenance, and cash optimisation and management, involving it in all aspects of managing an ATM Network.
How does the company view the Egyptian market?
The company views the Egyptian market very optimistically. We have not stopped our investments in Egypt under any circumstances over the past few years.
The company’s office in Egypt is one of NCR’s largest offices in the Middle East. About 200 employees work at the office, offering different services to banks. Moreover this office handles the company contracts in a number of African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
The company has an ambitious plan to expand in the Egyptian market in the upcoming period.
What is the size of the company’s investments in the Egyptian market?
The company’s business in Egypt is estimated at EGP 500m per year but there is a plan to double this figure over the next three years.
What are the problems that the company faces in the Egyptian market?
Like most investors, we suffer from several problems such as the instability of laws governing investment and taxes, as well as the volatility of the foreign exchange market.
The dollar shortage has significantly impacted us, whereby it reduces the company’s ability to meet the ATM demands of banks.
Being a Direct Branch of NCR Corporation has helped significantly to weather the storms related to availability of foreign currencies and we have been able to maintain the supply levels of equipment into the country. Nevertheless, we still have to fulfil our increasing obligations to our factories.
How many banks does NCR deal with in Egypt and what is your share of ATM machines in the market?
The company deals with 36 banks in the Egyptian market. We also own about 90% of all 8,200 ATM machines in the market.
Does the company only provide ATM machines to banks?
For some banks, we only provide the machines but for most of the banks, we provide end-to-end solutions including hardware, software, and standard, as well as managed services. We also run the complete systems for some banks.
We offer ATM Cash Management services, in cooperation with money transfer companies, as well as maintaining the machines through 22 specialised centres across the country.
What is NCR currently working on?
Over the past two years, the company adopted an expansion strategy with regards to software, where we acquired a number of international companies specialised in the field for more than $4bn.
Among the most prominent companies that NCR acquired are Transoft for cash management solutions, Digital Insight for digital banking solutions and Alaric for transaction processing and risk management.
What new products or services are you offering in the Egyptian market?
One of the areas on, which we have been focusing lately, is branch transformation, wherein we help banks transform the consumer experience within their branches.
We provide customer visit management solutions to automate the consumer’s journey inside the branch and leverage the latest technologies, such as financial kiosks, digital signage, and the customer’s smartphone.
We have contracted with the National Bank of Egypt, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Alexandria Intesa San Paolo, and a number of other banks to provide this service to their clients.
We have introduced the first Interactive Teller Machine (ITM) to the Egyptian market through the National Bank of Egypt, which currently has one machine. However, we will provide the bank with more ITM machines in 2016.
There are also agreements with Bank Audi-Egypt and a number of other banks to provide them with ITM machines. We will finalise the contract and provision procedures in the first quarter of this year.
There are similar agreements with eight other banks that will be signed soon. I expect that there will be at least 50 ITMs in the Egyptian market in 2016.
The company contracted with the Nasser Social Bank to automate it and provide it with ATMs for payroll for its employees and pensioners. We have already started trial operation for 40 of the bank’s ATMs.
Besides, the company is currently undergoing a full upgrade of the old ATMs of many banks and upgrade their software.
NCR’s new software platforms will completely transform the ATM-consumer experience, whereby the consumer will get a similar look and feel of the transactions performed through the smartphones and tablets.
The company also seeks the provision of mobile wallet service through ATMs. There are currently a number of contracts between the banks and communications companies to provide this service through the ATMs.
NCR will also expand its mobile branches service, which are branches loaded on moving trucks. This service is available in 12 banks through 40 trucks. The new year is expected to see more expansions.
These trucks are directed to busy places that require occasional banking services, such as during payroll period, as these areas do not require fixed branches or ATMs.
NCR assembles these trucks, in collaboration with a certified Egyptian factory, and equips them with advanced communication devices and special ATMs. We also export similar trucks to some African and Gulf countries.
How does NCR assist banks in achieving financial inclusion?
Several demands must be met to achieve financial inclusion, such as facilitating the process of dealing with banks and helping them be present in the largest possible number of places at low costs, which is done by the company through its ATMs and services offered to banks.
What is the company’s role in protecting ATMs against thefts, and what are the types of thefts have you experienced in the Egyptian market?
The company has a specialised centre for securing ATMs to monitor all attempted thefts all over the world. We publish reports and notes with all ATM abuse in all of our countries of operation, to warn banks.
The company has recently spotted a new kind of ATM thefts in Egypt, wherein robbers take the whole machine and move to someplace else, where they break it and take the money inside.
This type of theft can be secured by using specific types of inks that are placed inside the machine, to be sprayed out on the money automatically in case of any violent attempt to destroy the ATM.
Often, a label is placed on the machine to warn attackers that they will not get anything if they tamper with the machine.
These types of inks have not been used in Egypt until now, because these kinds of thefts did not happen previously. It also requires a whole new ecosystem.
The Central Bank of Egypt should be part of this ecosystem, because the bank that owns the attacked ATM must replace the money that was destroyed so it does not get wasted.
We see in Egypt, a very common kind of theft that is known as card skimming. This means stealing information from electronic cards that are used to withdraw from ATMs.
Thieves install a device on the ATM machine itself next to the card reader unit. When a client inserts a card, the device reads all its data and saves it to be used later.
Are ATMs in Egypt secured against this?
About 80% of the ATMs in Egypt are immune to this type of theft through technological methods developed by NCR that jam the devices that can read card data.
What are the most recent types of ATM robberies in the world and can they be done in Egypt?
There is an emerging type of fraud that we expect to see in Egypt soon. It involves software being installed on the ATMs, but this can only happen with a help of an authorised person.
These kinds of thefts are very dangerous, because the software that may be installed can have full control over the machine and can simply empty all the cash in it.
This kind of theft happens abroad. We raise awareness among the banks operating in Egypt to protect them from being exposed to this type of fraud.