The fintech landscape in Egypt (and even rest of the MENA) has taken a huge leap over the last few years. With its already vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem, Egypt has become home to a burgeoning fintech landscape, encouraging new government regulation and engaging corporates to contribute to shaping a better Fintech environment in Egypt.
In the last two years, we’ve seen the launch of different dedicated fintech accelerators, fintech-focused venture capital funds, and different government initiatives to support an evergrowing fintech scene that is trying to solve different financial challenges faced by individuals and businesses in Egypt.
We’ve tried to put together a quick guide to bring you up to speed on what has been happening in the fintech ecosystem of Egypt. Here are our insights.
The government has been taking different initiatives to encourage fintechs in the country. It includes the launch of Fintech Egypt platform and conversion of historic Central Bank of Egypt building into a fintech hub. It has also introduced a fintech regulatory sandbox to allow startups and founders to test their fintech ideas in a controlled environment.
The investment initiatives include names like EFG-EV, the fintech accelerator program that was founded by the leading financial institution EFG Hermes and Egypt Ventures; and Startup Bootcamp and Pride Capital’s Fintech Cairo. Shehab Marzban, the former advisor of Minister of investment has also announced a fintech fund Camel Ventures to invest in startups in Egypt and Africa and just last week Fawry’s Mohamed Okasha announced the launch of $25 million fintech-focused fund. But the biggest of them all is the 1 billion EGP fintech fund announced by Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).
The mix of regulatory reforms to the government’s financial inclusion agenda, a young population, and high and growing mobile penetration is apparently encouraging both individual and institutional investors to engage more in the rapidly growing fintech space.
The increasing interest of corporate sector
Larger corporates and bank are finally beginning to understand the difference between corporate and star-up innovation and are starting to leverage the latter for their own innovation agenda. This is reflected clearly by various banks’ support of fintech acceleration programs along with their engagement in different events and programs. Non-banking financial institutions are following suit. Last year, GIZ Egypt organized InsurHack, an Insurtech Hackathon that took place in partnership with seven insurance companies and builds on the collaboration between startups and corporates on solving the challenges facing the insurance industry in Egypt.
The telecom operators are also very active with four mobile wallets and several trials into introducing different fintech products with NTRA (The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority). Moreover, financial institutions like EFG Hermes, introduced ValU and Pharos Holding launched Kashat, the nano lending mobile application.
All these efforts show the eagerness of corporate stakeholders and financial institutions to play a major role in Egypt’s fintech ecosystem and not just innovate on their own but cooperate with entrepreneurs in a market that can become both more competitive and collaborative at the same time.
The number of fintechs operating (or trying to operate) in Egypt has seen a big jump in the last two years. We’re seeing a large number of entrepreneurs leaving their jobs and take on different challenges in this space. We’re seeing the following trends take shape:
1) Capitalizing on the opportunity of serving the unbanked or underbanked, a large number of startups are targeting low-income segments as their primary customers. To name just a few: Kashat, the nano lending mobile app; Qasatly, the counterpart to Valu for the low-income segments; and Creditgo, the payment aggregator used in kiosks and tuktuks.
2) The rise of lending in different modes. We’re seeing consumer finance products like ValU and Qasatly, credit scoring tools like Raseedi, and credit solutions for businesses like Capiter. ROSCAs (Rotating Savings And Credit Association) based models like MoneyFellows and Elgam3eya are also becoming popular.
3) Evolution of EKYC (Electronic Know Your Customer) and the rising number of Regtech startups providing Regtech solutions such as Valify, Know Me, Verified, Digified and PASSID.
4) The HR and payroll space is also being transformed with several startups working on payment systems and lending options for employees. Startups operating in this particular segment include; Paynas, Dopay, and NowPay. And the first product of Khazna who just announced the closing of their seed round is also a salary advance app for employees.
5) Despite all these revolutionary innovations, some areas are still untapped and are expected to witness more disruption in the next few years. Categories like wealth management, proptech, crypto, and capital markets provide massive opportunities for entrepreneurs who dare to venture into these spaces.
The future looks bright
The fintech ecosystem in Egypt is quickly evolving and growing and we think it will continue to grow despite different challenges faced by all the stakeholders operating in this space.
This report was created by the team of GIZ Promoting Access to Financial Services for Small and Medium Size Enterprises. We would like to thank the American University of Cairo’s Venture Lab team, Mahmoud Zohairy, Ahmed Elsherif, and Mourad Elashry for their support and comments.