You have been at the helm of CIB since 2002. In this time, CIB has embarked on many innovations. Which have been the most effective in driving growth?
Over the past few years, CIB’s strategy has been focused on moving toward a more customer-centric approach to uniquely position it among peers as an organisation. This focus revolves around the customer experience and a superior brand image. To carry out our strategy, we have been investing heavily in data analytics, upscaling our infrastructure, digitalising and automating the way we do business, while constantly developing our employees’ skills according to the latest emerging trends.
The bank is working to transform traditional financial services into simple and accessible solutions by investing in people, data, and digitalisation to serve tomorrow’s needs today. We do this by supporting the decision-making process with structured data, creating countless compelling experiences that are consumed digitally by our customers and acknowledging that artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud and data (ABCD) will play a pivotal role in defining our mode of operations.
You have previously commented on the need to increase banking penetration in the Egyptian population. Are you able to tell us if this has been possible?
Currently more than 60% of Egyptian adults are unbanked. Including this segment in the formal economy and adding it to the banking sector has become a national priority following the launch of Egypt’s Vision 2030 and the country’s alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Strategy.
CIB has been at the forefront of the country’s financial inclusion efforts – it was one of the first private sector banks to offer the national Meeza cards. Meeza prepaid and debit cards allow customers to withdraw cash from ATMs, conduct purchases, and perform e-commerce transactions in Egypt. CIB is also constantly developing payment services through its mobile application, CIB Smart Wallet, to both the banked and unbanked segments of the population, allowing them to pay bills, buy from merchants using QR codes, and send money to other wallet holders in Egypt with relatively low fees.
CIB holds the number-one ranking for domestic digital transfers and government e-payments, and has a 25% market share in both internet and mobile banking: we have the background to boost awareness needed among the general public.
The adoption of new technologies has been a hallmark of CIB’s strategy in recent years. Can you outline the bank’s major developments in this regard?
Harnessing the power of technology is not “on CIB’s radar”; we are not “preparing for a digital future” – we are already living it.
Technology is an integral part of the fabric of the bank – from how we interact with all our clients to how we formulate, price, and bring products to the market.
CIB is leading the digital charge in the Egyptian banking market, thanks to our outstanding people at all levels. We are benefitting from advances in Big Data, artificial intelligence, and process automation, allowing us to effectively become a leaner and more efficient organisation, while simultaneously being able to deploy our people where they can make the biggest difference.
We are thinking with and for our clients. More time is spent cultivating and deepening relationships. Much less time is spent doing work that is best performed by automation. We have repositioned our bank to ensure we are agile and nimble as an organisation, able to harness shifts in technology and respond to the evolving preferences of clients of all forms.
Our growing branch network serves those who want face-to-face contact with bank staff, and our powerful, easy-to-use online and mobile banking solutions are ideal for those who want to take charge of their financial futures from the comfort of their handset, tablet or laptop, wherever they may be. We have long been core supporters of the Central Bank’s efforts to promote the development of digital, non-cash solutions for the easy transfer of funds, purchases, bill payments and more.
We have introduced a comprehensive suite of digital payment solutions that minimise our clients’ need to use cash. This helps them with their busy lifestyles, and minimises the need to visit branches. CIB’s clients can avoid public places by banking from the comfort of their homes, with access to internet banking, our smartphone app, the CIB mobile wallet, phone banking, and the chatbot.
In light of the opportunities offered by the AfCFTA, do you have plans to increase your bank’s footprint in sub-Saharan Africa?
Africa is getting serious about eliminating physical barriers to inter-continental trade; those barriers range from unusable inland waterways to railways and ports.
We believe that real trade efficiencies are going to come in the long term from investment in infrastructure, particularly in ports.
Africa’s 170 or so ports are under-developed and inefficient, with shipping costs 1.5 to 3 times more than in other regions. Also, 16 of the continent’s 55 countries are landlocked. Here Egypt provides a model for others to consider, with its investment in infrastructure ranging from rail and road to ports, industrial parks, and inland ‘dry’ ports.
It is for all of these reasons that our bank looked to Africa in 2019, setting the stage for our growth beyond our borders for the first time.
Last year, we opened a representative office in Addis Ababa to serve as a bridgehead to a key trading partner and fellow custodian of the mighty River Nile.
Earlier this year, we acquired a 51% stake in Kenya’s Mayfair Bank, to create what is now known as Mayfair CIB Bank Limited.
In Kenya, we will offer back-to-back trade finance, facilitating Egyptian exports to (and imports from) this vital East African market, while we look forward to exploring the exciting Ethiopian market as it embarks on a period of political and economic reform. Our growth in Africa is part of a story of Africans reclaiming control of their financial apparatus.
At the beginning of 2019, CIB had 10 correspondent banks in Africa. When we wanted to work with any other party, we typically did so through a European intermediary. Today, we cover 18 African countries through a diverse network of 24 correspondent banking relationships and pan-African banking institutions.The ability of today’s African youth in deploying technology captures opportunities that eluded their predecessors less than a generation ago.
From Kenya to Uganda, Egypt to South Africa, top applications and tech platforms tend to be home-grown, not imported. We intend to take full opportunity of the potential of these tools.