The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could be the most serious challenge to financial institutions in nearly a century. As the economic fallout spreads, retail banks find themselves juggling some big priorities that require concrete steps to reposition now while also recalibrating for the future.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Crédit Agricole Egypt Deputy Managing Director Walie Lotfy, to find out his views on the banking sector prospects post-pandemic, and his bank’s future plans.
What is Crédit Agricole’s strategic orientations and how has the COVID-19 crisis affected the bank’s plans?
Crédit Agricole Egypt is constantly striving for the convenience and satisfaction of its customers, whilst also supporting the national economy and helping the community in which we operate. To do so, our strategy relies on two cornerstones: sustainability and innovation.
As you are aware, the pandemic has led to a worldwide change and has affected consumer behaviours, and has imposed a new normal whilst also expediting the shift towards digitalisation.
This have given a stimulus to Crédit Agricole Egypt, to accelerate its digital plans already engaged to meet customers’ needs and expectations. In line with the directives of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), our digital transformation strategy relies on several axis.
The first axis is the constant addition and upgrade of our digital services to further strengthen the bank’s integrated digital services platform “Banki by Crédit Agricole”, and to maximise our customers convenience and accessibility around the clock.
New features and services were already launched during 2020. Consequently, we have recorded a spike in customers’ utilisation level of our digital services, reaching 7 million login times and over 1.2 million transactions during the year.
The second axis of our strategy is offering our customers a distinguished banking experience. The bank recently launched a new loyalty programme, which, for the first time, rewards clients using any of the bank’s cards or digital services.
We are also embarking on a new project to maximise and upgrade our ATM network. In terms of branches, we inaugurated five new Banki Stores during 2020, which is a branch model that creates the balance between digital services and banking advice paving the way for a smoother digital transformation.
For the third axis of our strategy, we focus on the support of the transformation into a cashless society and the expansion of the financial inclusion. We have therefore launched, for the first time in Egypt, our initiative to convert specific communities’ membership cards to payment cards to enable their holders to make payments anywhere.
We have implemented this initiative in collaboration with the Alexandria Sporting Club and Shooting Club, and we have distributed to date over 300,000 new prepaid cards for members of both clubs.
What are the digital services the bank currently provides? What services are intended to be introduced during the coming period?
Crédit Agricole Egypt is one of the first banks to offer digital services and encourage customers to opt for easy, secure and reliable solutions. The transformation process was started in 2015, debuting with the bank’s technological infrastructure, which is the core banking system, which was followed by the launch of our integrated digital services platform “Banki by Crédit Agricole”.
We have also upgraded our own thinking to introduce the Banki Store model, which reinforces the omni-channel concept where the same services are available through different channels to enable customers to choose how they wish to bank.
The post-COVID-19 era has prompted us to continue and even accelerate the development, especially after the great success achieved during the last period and the awards that the bank has received, whether for services provided to individuals or companies.
Among the achievements in 2020 is the launch of digital trade finance which was added to banki Business, and corporate online banking, to allow companies to manage their accounts and payments seamlessly and facilitate their trade activities.
We are currently working on launching the new version of the mobile app, which will introduce many new features to ensure pleasing our customers. The bank is also now preparing to launch an e-commerce service, having obtained the electronic collection licence for companies with the approval of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).
How did the bank’s customers respond to the digital services provided during COVID-19?
Because our goal is to ensure customers’ convenience, we are very pleased to see them use, trust, and rely more and more on our digital services. Currently, about 50% of our active customers have registered to use Crédit Agricole Egypt digital services.
This marks a 25% increase compared to the same period last year. The average logins to Banki services is 10 times per client per month, and brings the total number of logins during 2020 to over 7 million, up by 70% from 2019.
Our customers have made around 1.2 million digital transactions during the year, marking a 30% growth compared to 2019. As for companies, we have recorded an increase in their transactions reaching 100%.
This reflects the confidence of our customers in the bank’s digital services, which is why we are rewarding our customers with points when they use digital transactions for the first time.