Ashraf El Kady, chairperson of the United Bank of Egypt, said that there are seven main aspects that governing the bank’s strategy, starting this year.
He explained to Daily News Egypt that the first aspect is about establishing a package of new digital solutions and raising clients’ awareness through offering electronic channels for banking services to reach clients everywhere in Egypt, cutting costs, and raising penetration of cost-effective banking solutions.
According to El Kady, these services include internet banking, mobile banking, electronic portfolios, e-payments, ATM services, and currency exchange.
He added that the second axis is to intensify the campaigns of financial inclusion across Egypt, noting that merging the informal economy with the formal one is a challenge for the United Bank in Egypt.
He pointed out that the bank has exerted great efforts in that area, starting with its participation in the national campaign of financial inclusion as part of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE)’s initiative, all of which have succeeded in introducing banking culture to a large base of the public, especially in Upper Egypt and the Golden Triangle, along with training clients on using bank accounts, credit cards, and other banking services.
He stressed that the bank will continue to spread banking culture and increase financial awareness among customers, whether through seminars and direct interactions or through the introduction of new digital banking products.
According to El Kady, the spread of mobile phones has contributed to raising the level of awareness among customers and increased the base of customers in electronic banking, pointing out that the bank aims, in the coming period, to intensify electronic banking services provided to all segments of customers, which contributes to implementing the applications of the financial inclusion system.
The third axis of the United Bank’s strategy, according to El Kady, is to maximise the base of the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector’s beneficiaries, financially and technically, especially projects aimed at export.
He explained that the development of national industries is one of the most important strategic axes of the bank, so it has provided a package of funding, financial advice, and technological solutions to increase the production capacity of Egyptian factories.
He added that the bank is working according to a national programme to support raising the ratio of Egyptian components in manufactured products, especially the ones that are manufactured for export, which positively affects the increase in growth rates and increases the contribution of industry to GDP, the creation of job opportunities among youth, and full exploitation of human resources in Egypt.
He pointed out that as a continuation of the success and strategic partnership to maximise the role of the SME sector in pushing the national economy forward, the bank signed a number of joint cooperation agreements with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) worth EGP 120m.
The bank also signed a memorandum of cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for technical and economic consultations on the SME sector.
Under the terms of that agreement, the bank acts as a mediator between the EBRD and its clients of small and medium companies that wish to develop and improve their overall performance and administrative, financial, technical, and economic performance in particular, allowing them to compete globally and raise the slogan of Made in Egypt.
Under the agreement, the EBRD will also provide an international expert who will conduct an extensive study of the projects, including identifying the most important difficulties facing them and finding suitable solutions for them, so as to raise the size of investment and maximise production in the short and long terms.
Moreover, the fourth pillar of the bank’s strategy is to expand the introduction of Shariah-compliant banking solutions.
El Kady explained that the bank has more than 30 retail banking products, including a variety of financing tools, vessels, and certificates of investment and savings accounts, as well as a package of credit cards, noting that most of these products are compliant with the provisions of Shariah, in addition to mortgage programmes, especially for low- and middle-income youth.
The bank’s strategy also depends on expanding the number of its branches, units, and offices.
El Kady explained that the bank now has 53 branches and two foreign exchange offices, as well as a network of 200 ATMs and a fleet of mobile banks covering most of Egypt. He noted that the bank intends to open new branches and three foreign exchange offices in the coming period.
“The bank’s policy of geographic expansion aims to facilitate access to banking and banking services to customers inside and outside the republic,” according to El Kady.
He pointed out that the implementation of the plan locally increases the number of branches, small units, and currency exchange offices, which increases equity and profitability. Abroad, the plan includes signing a number of agreements with some financial institutions in the Arab region and sending delegates and creating electronic links between them, in order to encourage and increase the rates of remittances sent from Egyptians working abroad.
He added that the bank aims to sign foreign agreements to increase dollar proceeds, which contribute to support the growth of hard cash reserves and then strengthen the national economy.
“The sixth axis of the strategy is supporting human resources and empowering youth and women by continuing to strengthen the bank’s human resources and attracting young cadres of new graduates and training them on an ongoing basis to raise efficiency and prepare the second generation of leaders worthy of managing Egypt’s promising future.
The seventh and final axis is community partnership for the purpose of sustainable development. El Kady emphasises that contributing to sustainable development, combating slums, supporting entrepreneurship, and training youth is a top priority for the bank.
He pointed out that the bank is studying the possibility of contributing to the programmes of sustainable development of Egyptian minds by sponsoring distinguished students in the field of scientific research especially for the field of information technology and medical field.
The bank is also studying the possibility of supporting one of the local industries, by encouraging the micro-industry sector and providing the training and funding necessary for it to push production and export.