The Egyptian government, represented by the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade and the Ministry of Planning, this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Visa Inc., to enable electronic payment of government subsidies to 22 million Egyptian families.
The MOU was signed by H.E. Dr. Khaled Hanafy, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, H.E. Dr. Ashraf Al Arabi, Minister of Planning, Monitoring, and Administrative Reform, and Stephen Kehoe, senior vice president for Financial Inclusion, Visa Inc., at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Administrative Development. The signing of the MOU today launches an ambitious period of work designed to provide Egypt with one of the most modern subsidy payments systems in the world.
H.E. Dr. Khaled Hanafy, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade said, “The MOU is an additional step towards the empowerment of Egyptian citizens and signifies that the government is keen to enhance the quality of services offered to them. Visa, the most experienced company in the field, is financing the study that aims at transforming the current subsidy scheme and providing Egyptians with a payment tool that would provide more services and benefits. This will result in greater financial inclusion which requires cooperation amongst all stakeholders.”
“We consider the study as a milestone in our greater plans for the development of Egypt by 2030. It reflects the government’s resolve to address the challenges and improve the lives of Egyptians by collaborating with companies like Visa. It is a testament that we are seeking international standards when it comes to the services offered to our citizens,” said H.E. Dr. Ashraf Al Arabi, Minister of Planning, Monitoring, and Administrative Reform.
“This MOU signing represents not only an important milestone in our ongoing cooperation with the Egyptian government, but is also a major step forward in our efforts to bring more Egyptians into the formal financial system, with all the associated benefits that brings,” said Stephen Kehoe, senior vice president, Visa Inc. “Our shared vision for enhancing the quality of services and employing the latest payment technologies makes this partnership a great opportunity for Egyptian families, the financial services industry, merchants and the government alike.”
As part of the MOU, the Egyptian government will first work with Visa on a study that reviews the current subsidy program, so that an informed action plan can be created to move the disbursement process to electronic payments. The study will also look into increasing electronic payment acceptance at subsidy-accepting merchants, especially bakeries, and capitalize on the widespread usage of mobile phones in the country.
Additionally, Visa will introduce payment innovations and share global best practices in risk management and anti-fraud applications.
The use of electronic payments will bring greater payment security and convenience to Egyptian families, while lowering costs and bringing increased transparency to the government subsidy program.
“Today, less than two percent of payments in Egypt are made electronically which is just one reason why this partnership can be so impactful,” said Tarek Elhousseiny, general manager for North and West Africa, Visa Inc. “The financial inclusion needs of Egypt have some similarities to those we have addressed in Latin America and other regions, which is why we are excited about the best practices we can bring to this partnership.”
Through this program, the Egyptian government hopes to improve the quality of services offered to its citizens, and adopt innovative payment technologies that will drive financial inclusion for more Egyptians. By providing fully functional digital payments accounts, the 22 million family beneficiaries, most of whom are unbanked, will gain easier access to other financial service offerings. The government also intends to include banks in the subsidy scheme given their growing role in financial inclusion.