Egypt boasts one of the fastest-growing business markets in Africa. With that said,fintech is set to play a key role in providing basic financial services to the large pool of unbanked people.
According to the latest report from Africa’s leading corporate information and market mapping platform provider Asoko Insight, the fintech market comprises approximately 40 players – including startups, financial institutions and micro-finance providers, as well as incubators, hubs and investors – and has attracted significant investment over recent years.
With growth more than doubling in the five years to 2017, the fintech industry is one of Egypt’s fastest-growing business sectors. The fintech market is playing an important role in transitioning Egypt from cash to electronic payments at all levels of the financial services sector, from the high-level, centrally coordinated national banking system to the grassroots level, where fintech providers target the unbanked.
With a population of almost 100 million people, Egypt is one of the most populous countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), yet low levels of financial penetration mean that only a third of the adult population has a formal bank account. This has opened a significant market to providers that can facilitate access for the large unbanked population, as well as open the banked population to more technologically sophisticated services. .
Rising levels of financial inclusion generate demand for fintech though perception remains a challenge.
Traditional measures of financial inclusion have been rising, with the proportion of Egypt’s adult population holding a checking, savings or credit account growing three-fold from 2011 to 2017, to hit 32%. Debit card ownership also rose significantly from 5% to 24.8%, although credit card usage has remained low at just 3% and card use is generally limited to payroll. Most measures of digital financial service usage have also been increasing rapidly, in some cases outpacing traditional access, albeit from a lower base.
The proportion of the population with a mobile money account, for example, jumped from 1.1% to 22.8% between 2014 and 2017. Roughly one-fifth of the population used a credit or debit card to make a purchase over the past year, compared to less than 5% in 2014. E-commerce and online bill payments remain relatively rare, however, and those using digital payments registered a slight decline over the period.
Fintech is a key beneficiary of rising mobile take-up and technology
Egypt’s population is demanding more financial inclusion and increasingly looking to their mobile handsets to access these services, creating a conducive environment for fintech growth. Mobile technology has developed to the point that the country has more mobile subscriptions than its population, with a penetration rate of 110%, and mobile banking is overtaking traditional banking in popularity.
At least 12 Egyptian banks have already implemented mobile wallets into their systems and more banks are likely to follow suit. Egypt’s high mobile penetration rate, large pool of unbanked citizens and considerable youth bulge, with 52% of the population under the age of 25, represent an opportunity for fintech companies to provide convenient, cheaper and digital financial and banking services. In turn, rising fintech adoption in Egypt is expected to create more growth opportunities for investors, consumers, and businesses.