In 2020, the CBE asked banks to establish a financial inclusion department to advance its efforts to bank the unbanked and develop into a cashless society, all while fostering financial stability and economic development. The department was required to consolidate and develop internal financial inclusion work streams and act as the single source of consolidated information for financial inclusion updates to the CBE.

As such, CIB launched its Financial Inclusion Division and developed a board-approved, five-year financial inclusion strategy to provide easier access to financial services to the most vulnerable segments of society by harnessing its digital acumen. CIB’s Financial Inclusion Division collaborates with other lines of business to build on existing initiatives while developing and consolidating the Bank’s strategy, products, services, and programs. The department aims to offer a consolidated, sustainable, and profitable workstream for financial inclusion, creating shareholder value and positive ROE for investors while serving the community and fostering inclusive finance.

2021 Highlights

The first step to best serve unbanked and underbanked segments was to create customer profiles. Each cluster group had common demographics, characteristics, pain points, and barriers that prevented them from joining the formal economy. For each barrier the division identified, it addressed them through product offerings, service models, and acquisition channels.

Its short-term strategy goals included:

  • Fine-tune initial financial inclusion customer subsegmentation through additional market research;
  • Analyze existing, lower-income customer base for spending/saving behavior corresponding to demographics, geographic location, and digital adaptability;
  • Finalize the most appropriate value propositions, product features, target segments, channel service, and communication channels;
  • Identify high-density governorates and commercial areas with low banking penetration to cater profile offerings and identify appropriate locations, awareness campaigns, and services for each;
  • Map out and identify potential expansion of digital financial services ecosystem footprint in select governorates through POS, mobile POS, and QR code penetration, partnering with third party agents and other ecosystem stakeholders; and
  • Identify and approve engagement scope process end-to-end, as well as potential fintechs/technology enabled companies to engage with.

In 2021, the division worked with the Strategic Alliance Department and CIB subsidiary CVentures to identify and assess several possible fintech partnerships to provide tailored solutions that meet the needs of low-income customers. Partnerships will eventually enable the Bank to leverage data to facilitate the customer journey and make use of predictive analytics to segment clients and offer even more targeted products and services.

The division also helped assist in the national Hayah Karima campaign in 2021, which saw CIB collaborate with the CBE, Ministry of Planning, World Food Program, CIB Foundation, and other stakeholders to reach out to select governorates to provide financial literacy programs and onboard the beneficiaries to the CIB mobile wallet and/or the Meeza card.

The year also saw the division facilitate numerous financial inclusion awareness campaigns: Celebrating Women (8–31 March), Arab Day (1–30 April), Youth Celebration (1–15 August) and Farmers Celebration (1–15 September), Savings Celebration (15–31 October), and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities Celebration Campaign (1–15 December). Over 78,000 new customer wallets and 12,000 accounts were opened during the campaigns. The division also supported CIB’s L&D Department to put together a summer internship program revolving around the theme of financial inclusion with over 10,000 students enrolled.

2022 Forward-Looking Strategy

The long-term strategy pillars of the division focus on identifying new customer segment journeys and corresponding existing pain points and barriers that need to be addressed to facilitate access to financial services:

Pillar 1: The Discovery Phase — Marketing and Awareness Strategy

CIB will aim to compete for customers’ attention in this stage to build brand awareness and communicate value. One of the pre-digital era challenges banks faced when targeting lower income segments in emerging markets was marketing services to these customers who often feel marginalized by traditional banking efforts. To create trust among these clients, CIB will make concerted efforts through targeted, inclusive digital marketing efforts. These channels overcome an access to information challenge and will make it less costly to raise awareness among clients.

Pillar 2: The Onboarding — Distribution and Acquisition Strategy

Once an individual decides to apply for a product, CIB will initiate a series of activities to establish the customer’s credentials and eligibility and set up the account. This stage also involves underwriting decisions for credit products, providing detailed information about product terms and conditions, and signing contracts. Most of this process traditionally involved paperwork and required customers to sit with front-line staff to fill out forms and check documents. New regulations, such as the simple KYC onboarding process for financial inclusion products, have enabled CIB to more efficiently onboard this segment. The Bank is working to make the onboarding process easier for clients by creating tools that allow customers to complete po3rtions or entire onboarding processes digitally.

Pillar 3: Continuing Use Stage — Value Propositions: Products, Services, Partnerships, and Data Strategy

The continuing use phase includes product use, customer engagement, and responding to inquiries or complaints. Traditionally, CIB’s contact with customers was limited to branch visits for transactions or inquiries or through phone and mail. Digital systems allow ongoing contact at a much lower cost, giving CIB the opportunity to develop more value-accretive relationships with clients. The digital footprints customers leave will allow the Bank to conduct a range of analytics, allowing machine learning to recommend products and use CIB chatbot Zaki to provide customer service assistance. The digital relationship will also weave in reminders based on behavioral insights to encourage clients to save, manage their debt, or keep closer track of their expenses, allowing the Bank to contribute to customer financial health.

CIB Smart Wallet

CIB Smart Wallet is an innovative payment experience that serves both banked and unbanked customers by providing a convenient, secure, and cost-effective way to make financial transactions through mobile devices. Customers can easily pay bills, recharge their mobile prepaid lines, send money to other wallet holders in Egypt, and deposit or withdraw funds from any ATM machine or any of CIB’s Authorized Banking Agent’s outlets.

2021 Highlights

In 2021, we worked on two streams: sustaining the Smart Wallet value proposition to increase its customer base, activity rate, and transaction volume and value, as well as continuing to build the Bank’s new mobile wallet.

CIB Smart Wallet transactions increased by 43% y-o-y to 10.7 million, while the transaction value surged by 160% y-o-y to EGP 7.2 billion in December 2021. Smart Wallet’s customer base grew by 19% to one million as of December 2021 and maintained an activity rate of 18% (90 days). This was achieved by diversifying and enhancing our sales channels and opening new ones to boost the Smart Wallet acquisition. We increased our sales force to six Mobile Payment Sales Agents who are responsible for managing customer acquisition to the wallet through all our sales channels.

As of December 2021, our Banking Agent (Fawry Plus) acquired 212,441 mobile wallets, a 57% increase vs. 2020, becoming the highest acquisition channel for the Smart Wallet. Efforts are also ongoing to increase and maintain the Smart Wallet activity rate, such as providing instant incentives to customers who successfully register through Fawry Plus. Acquisition through internal channels increased by 12.5% in December 2021 in comparison to the same period in 2020. The year also saw CIB Smart Wallet bundled with Payroll Cards to provide low-income segments with both products to allow them to receive their salaries and perform their financial transactions.

In 2021, we continued introducing new digital channels to our customers to register to CIB Smart Wallet, enabling them to register to the wallet through their Online Banking accounts, in addition to the SMS channel, which was first introduced in April 2020. Digital channels, including SMS and Online Banking channels, showed a promising acquisition rate, acquiring 10,500 wallets since January 2021.

Smart Wallet’s geographic reach was expanded in collaboration with a third party and Fawry Plus, with on-the-ground presence in 11 of Egypt’s largest train stations, acquiring around 25,000 wallets since launch in September 2020. We also launched on-theground roadshows in rural areas to raise Smart Wallet awareness and boost acquisition, acquiring 24,500 wallets in 1Q 2021.

2021 also saw CIB Smart Wallet grow its value proposition to efficiently serve Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in Egypt and support the automation of their loan disbursement and collection. This has already kicked off with the Alexandria Businessmen Association (ABA), while an agreement has been signed with ESED. The Bank is also currently in talks with two major MFIs in Egypt to begin operations in 2022.

CIB Smart Wallet participated in all CBE financial inclusion initiatives during 2021 to advance its goal of reaching the targeted segment in an impactful way. It also conducted financial literacy awareness sessions to a select audience across different governorates.

On the technological front, the division focused on upgrading the current Smart Wallet application to a more flexible user experience, enhancing the user interface and providing a more stable environment. It also worked on building the new eWallet on an instance core banking system that will allow access to new financial products. The pilot phase was successfully completed in 2021, with work set to continue to finalize all necessary requirements to launch in 2022.

Bedaya Accounts

CIB launched Bedaya, new LCY accounts that target individuals, focusing on the unbanked segments, particularly housewives and youth, in addition to free professions, micro and small businesses. The account aims to include society’s unbanked segments, eliminate the entry barriers, and encourage the unbanked population to enter the banking sector through the simplification of the account-opening process. Bedaya introduced two different types of accounts: a Saving account that targets individuals and a Business account for micro and small businesses. The accounts’ onboarding requires a valid national ID only and are capped at certain transaction and balance limits. If a customer exceeds the balance limit, they shall be required to sign a full-KYC form and will be changed to an Easy Savings account.

Meeza Prepaid

CIB’s Meeza generic prepaid card is the final financial inclusion product offered by the Bank and is its fastest-issued card. The card is only issued for Egyptians, without the need of opening a bank account, using their valid national ID. Customers can easily withdraw from any ATM in Egypt and purchase from any in-store merchant and through Egyptian e-commerce platforms using their Meeza or any other prepaid cards.

2022 Forward-looking Strategy:

The division’s strategy for 2022 will focus on the launch of the eWallet platform after obtaining all regulatory approvals and the introduction of new financial products on the new Mobile Wallet, such as savings and lending, after obtaining regulatory approvals. There are also plans to update the current Smart Wallet mobile application’s customer experience and interface.

The division will continue to participate in all relevant CBE financial inclusion initiatives and boost the distribution of the Bank’s financial inclusion products. It also plans to create bundled financial inclusion products to provide customers with fullfledged solutions to increase their utilization of banking products. The Financial Inclusion sales force is expected to reach 20 MPSAs in 2022, while the Banking Agent network should reach three agents that serve the mobile wallet. Our MFI partners will be provided with a registration portal to facilitating onboarding to the Smart Wallet.