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The challenge and opportunity for banks in North Africa

The challenge and opportunity for banks in North Africa

With 44 million unbanked adults in Egypt alone, North African banks are still struggling to provide a secure and viable path to financial inclusion for the majority of its people.

This is according to IQPC Middle East, the organisers behind the Banking Tech North Africa week, scheduled to run from 5 - 7 November 2018 in Cairo.

A report North African Banks transforming through technology adoption, states that in Egypt, the percentage of adults with a bank account rose to 33% in 2017, significantly up from 14% in 2014 and from 11% in 2011.

Organisers cite the technological and organisational inflexibility of banks, as well as legacy systems that lack the capabilities to adequately serve "such vast unbanked populations."

The report identifies three technological trends that are changing the face of North African banking, including FinTech partnerships, mobile banking/payment/lending platforms, as well as accessing and leveraging data.

Joanne Mount, Conference Director – IQPC Middle East, said the event in November will serve to demonstrate "how innovative and cost-effective digital banking services will not only help retain increasingly demanding consumers, but more importantly expand access to those currently unbanked."

An excerpt from the report reads, "Analytics, AI, Big Data: Though still relatively in its infancy in Egypt and much of North Africa, making more effective use of data is one of the top priorities for banks in this emerging market. A 2017 PwC survey found that around 74% of the large financial firms interviewed felt that data analytics will be the "most relevant" technology that they aim to invest in over the following 12 months."

Moreover, the research makes the point that continued reliance of much of North Africa on cash-based transactions means that financial inclusion "currently remains much lower than upbeat annual progress reports would otherwise suggest."

"Thanks to further support given by a government with a proven track record of encouraging banking innovation and driving financial inclusion via effective regulatory policies, the coming years are primed to see a further surge of participation in the formal economy of the region. No doubt this accelerating trend of digital transformation will present banks and financial institutions with greater opportunities to refine their offerings for a much wider and larger consumer audience," it states.

According to the event's website, several speakers are scheduled to present including Julian Wilson, Group Innovation, Barclays; Amr El Bahey, CEO and Country Head Mashreq Bank, Egypt; Usama Abdel Hamid, UBS, Switzerland and Mohamed Sultan, COO, Commercial International Bank, Egypt.

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