Tarek Fayed, Chairperson and CEO of Banque du Caire, has revealed that work is currently underway to establish a company for electronic payment (e-payment).
The move would contribute to supporting expansion plans in the field of digital transformation and financial inclusion.
In an exclusive interview with Daily News Egypt, Fayed said that Banque du Caire is flexible in terms of adjusting strategies and its business model to deal with crises such as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The bank seeks to make the most from the current situation by financing the sectors that are currently in high demand to turn them into opportunities that compensate for the slowdown in other sectors.
How did the COVID-19 crisis affect the bank’s plans in providing services?
Since assuming responsibility in 2018, Banque du Caire’s Board of Directors has set an ambitious strategy based on several aspects, most notably strengthening the bank’s role in managing financing for large, medium, small and micro enterprises and banking retail.
This came especially with the enhancement and development of the credit portfolio in various sectors, contributing to achieving a loan-to-deposit ratio that’s 60% higher compared to late September 2020.
With regard to the COVID-19 crisis, we have flexibility in adjusting strategies and the business model. We are also striving to make the most of the current situation by financing the sectors that are currently in high demand, in order to turn these sectors into opportunities to compensate for the slowdown that occurred in other sectors.
There are lessons learned from every crisis, especially as we have professionals and a high-quality technological infrastructure. We are also expanding at a rapid pace, and the bank has made an upsurge in labour and infrastructure systems and policies during the last period, which has enabled us to face any challenges.
Has this crisis accelerated implementing the bank’s digital transformation plan? What are the technological services that the bank currently provides?
Banque du Caire has made great strides in the field of digital transformation, which has been a top priority for the bank since the implementation of the integrated development strategy in 2018.
It has assumed great importance within its plans and policies years before the COVID-19 crisis. A variety of digital products and services were offered, most notably the Internet banking service for individuals, in addition to restructuring the mobile phone wallet. Moreover, the bank introduced a Mobile Banking service for individuals, and an online corporate banking service which was launched in 2020.
Work is also underway on a comprehensive development of the IVR phone banking service, in addition to providing new services such as the Chatbot interactive communication service. We have also expanded our investment in ATMs. We had nearly 650 ATMs and currently took that number to 1,200. We plan to increase their number to 1,800 during the first half (H1) of 2021.
The bank also opened the first digital branch, while continuing to expand geographically by opening new branches and developing existing ones. The bank now has 241 branches and banking units in the various governorates in its network of branches. The aim is to reach customers wherever they are, and provide banking services with the highest level of efficiency and quality.
It keeps pace with the latest internationally applied standards, as part of a strategy aimed at enhancing presence in industrial zones and areas of demand for individual financing services.
The third quarter (Q3) of 2020 also witnessed the signing of a cooperation agreement with Telecom Egypt (TE). Under this, the bank manages the company’s electronic wallet, as a banking partner, to provide a package of the best banking services. This has increased the total number of customers benefiting from phone payment services at Banque du Caire for “Cairo Cash” and “Etisalat Cash” wallets to 2 million customers.
Banque du Caire was one of the first banks to participate in the offering of the national card “Meeza”. It was also the first to obtain a QR Code licence.
In continuation of the bank’s efforts to develop electronic payment services, it obtained the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) licence for e-payment through Point of Sale devices (POS). This is a new addition to the digital payment package offered by the bank to its customers.
Work is also underway to establish a company for digital and e-payments. This is expected to support expansion plans in the field of digital transformation and financial inclusion.
How did the bank’s customers react to the services it provided during the COVID-19 period?
The digital services and products offered by the bank witnessed an increase in customer demand. Customers’ use of the mobile phone wallet “Cairo Cash” increased to over 500,000, with a usage rate higher than 10%, which is even higher than the targets set by CBE.
E-payment services via QR-Code have also witnessed a monthly growth rate of approximately 38%, with the number of sellers reaching 17,532 until late September 2020. The bank has also benefited from the initiative proposed by CBE three months ago. New sellers were added, accounting for 45% of the total number of sellers acquired until Q3 of 2020.
In the field of credit cards, the total number of cards at the end of the third quarter of 2020 reached 129,000, an increase of 26% with an estimated balance of EGP 606m, an increase of 63% compared to 2019. The total portfolio of debit and prepaid cards of all kinds at the end of the third quarter reached 2.4 million, an increase of 9% compared to the end of December 2019.
Demand on contactless cards increased with sellers, with an increase of 137% compared to the end of December 2019.
In addition, the bank launched campaigns directed at some customers to increase their usage. It has also launched a 10% cash-back campaign on all its cards when online purchases are made to encourage customers to shop online.
Moreover, the bank launched a titanium debit MasterCard as a new addition to its cards package. It is specially designed to achieve the greatest degree of security and protection on all transactions, in addition to many benefits that suit customers’ daily needs.