In Egypt, cash is king, when it comes to different financial transaction. Out of the 100 million population, the World Bank estimates that just 10-15% have a bank account, which is considered to be one of the lowest global penetration rates. Over the past few years, financial inclusion has been brought to the forefront in Egypt as a means for financial sector growth. Along with the increasing need for innovation and the shift toward digitisation, plenty of FinTech startups have emerged in the country.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Egypt has tremendous potential to expand in FinTech due to its large economy and mature banking industry. One of the most notable Egyptian FinTech startups is Masary, a provider of e-payments through more than 70,000 locations.
According to the Chairperson and CEO of Masary, Mohamed Nagy, the company has completed the first transaction in 2009, and Masary currently processes 1.5m transactions daily.
As per the Arab Youth Survey 2019, just 35% of youth in north Africa prefer to pay via credit card online. But with the high mobile penetration rates, more and more start-ups are relying on mobile phone payments to make the user’s experience easier and financial services more accessible.
Daily News Egypt interviewed the Chairperson and CEO of Masary, Mohamed Nagy, to find out how would Seamless bring the financial inclusion target a step closer, and the company’s latest updates, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
As a company, what do you plan to achieve from your participation in Seamless North Africa 2019?
The Seamless conference is considered to be the premier forum and conference when it comes to bringing together the brightest minds from across payments, FinTech and banking. Almost a year ago in 2018 the first edition of Seamless North Africa came to the first time in Egypt, under the under the patronage of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).
2018’s edition had a spectacular engagement, and participation of all industry leaders. As a company, we strive to support, and play an active role in the development of the e-payment sector in Egypt, that’s why we decided to participate in the conference, to have a discussion with industry experts from across the globe, as well as banking experts.
We have been operating for almost 10 years in the Egyptian market. Masary managed to become the country’s second largest player in e-payments.
How do you evaluate the e-payments sector in Egypt, and how can we achieve high penetration rates?
The e-payments sector is unique in every country, although it started in developing nations, where economic development is dependent on financial transactions, technological advancement in the last few decades allowed the facilitation of such transactions.
In Egypt’s case, although we are a developing country, but our case is different, as we have a strong banking sector. Unlike other countries our e-payments development was not chaotic, it was regulated in a very well-mannered fashion as the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has learned from other countries’ experiences, to avoid any set-backs.
You can say that this allowed Egypt to start where the others ended.
I believe that the turning point for the industry in Egypt was the 2017’s Sharm El-Sheikh Accord on Financial Inclusion, under the auspices of the President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the CBE, which tackled the need to raise awareness and advocate for financial inclusion policies and regulatory approaches, and implementing financial inclusion policy solutions that have positive outcomes.
Since that day the authorities’ political will to support digitalisation and e-payment increased and 2018 witnessed a remarkable development in the fields of electronic payment and the transition to a cashless society. The Egyptian market is highly competitive according to professional standards, encouraging many companies operating in the market to improve their services and focus. Masary has an ambitious vision aimed at the expansion of the Egyptian market, aiming to boost financial inclusion.
Where does Masary currently stand, and what are the company’s future expansion plans?
In 2019 more than 20 million people benefited monthly, and currently we have more than 70,000 outlets across the country, including 5,000 points of sale (POS) supporting prepaid electricity cards.
Also we aim to that all our POS to be compatible with the ‘Meeza’ card, and we are currently studying partnering with more than one bank to activate this feature as a means of payment.
Our company’s share reached 30% of the Egyptian payment market. Also we aim to increase the number of services provided by the company. Presently, more than 1.5m transaction go through Masary on a daily basis, and we aim to bring that number up to 2m by the end of 2019.
Regarding the POS, we target to more than double our POS to reach 150,000 POS by the end of 2020.
We currently provide 120 services through Total services 120, up from a Total services 90 across Egypt in 2018, as we put customer satisfaction and service and achieving financial inclusion as our priority.
As a company we provide an efficient solution to everyone, companies, merchants, and consumers. Everyone is benefiting from the system and it is cheaper for them to use that service.
Collaboration with e-finance for the government related payments, boosted the company’s growth rates and contributed to a growing customer base.
How does the company target the micro finance and micro insurance segment?
We collaborated with various micro-financing institutions who provide credit for micro-enterprises, to allow their beneficiaries to pay their loan instalments through our company’s outlets, to ease the process, enhance payment channels, and that’s what would play a role in enhancing inclusion.
The company believes in the role that financial achievement can play in driving economic development, as well as the role that Masary can play as a purely Egyptian company in supporting the country’s direction in this field.
Ease of use, feasibility, low services charge, and accessibility, are the most important factors of the success of the system of financial inclusion.
Any plans to collaborate with telecom companies, and banks for mobile wallet services?
The company seeks to expand the base of cooperation with the Egyptian banks in several areas, for example adding credit and withdrawals from the personal cash portfolios and transferring funds via mobile phone, which received all the support from the CBE and other services aimed at supporting the government’s direction. Also, spreading awareness and financial integration among citizens by providing services in a simple, safe and cost-effective manner.
New services provided by the company are in support of the expansion of government services to citizens in cooperation with e-finance, while continuing to work with private sector companies to support them in the service of our customers and to simplify and accelerate the collection process.
Masary also cooperates with banking and non-bank financial institutions to provide services to the largest base of citizens dealing with these institutions.
Masary Electronic Payment Solutions is holding semi-final talks with the three entities: Vodafone, Orange, and Etisalat mobile operators to provide cash in & out services through their nationwide outlets.
Does the company target the B2B segment?
It is not our main focus, but we are definitely working on it, but our main goal is to make a difference in e-payment in the society, which is more concerned with b2c.
Allowing users to pay for utilities, buy merchandise, pay for tuition etc with ease, would help economic growth.
B2b market has great demand, we are definitely working on it but it’s not our main goal.
We plan to include further utilities and government services, and of course electronic payments, such as the ‘Meeza’ card, through our collaboration with e-finance.