Photograph — endgadget

As Egypt introduces innovations in public transportation and education systems, its financial sector is about to get its turn with the country being at the heart of Mastercard’s latest cutting-edge payment system. Unveiled at Seamless North Africa 2019, the payment system is targeted at SMEs, of which there are about 2.5 million in Egypt, representing seventy-five percent of the total working population. According to Mastercard’s GM for Egypt and Pakistan, Magdy Hassan, this is part of a more elaborate, wide-ranging collaboration with the Egyptian to help its economy reach its fullest potential.

“Egypt is undergoing a technological revolution that offers significant potential to its economy and people,” Hassan said. “As a strategic partner of the Egyptian government, Mastercard is well positioned to help unlock this potential, and catalyze the adoption of digital payments in the country. Through our successful public-private partnerships with the Egyptian government, we are scaling up the latest in payments innovations, enabling financial inclusion for a significant part of the population and paving the way for a smart economy.”

Noting the relevance of SMEs in the country’s economic progress, Hassan said Mastercard will “continue to develop cost-effective digital payments solutions that allow businesses to pay and be paid transparently, seamlessly, and securely.” He stressed the importance of offering local businesses and merchants an innovation tailored to fit their specific payment needs, not a system imported and forcibly adapted to the local scene.

Clearly, digitizing payments is something Egyptian President Sisi’s administration has thought long and hard about. Thanks to previous partnerships with Mastercard, up to six million government workers are able to receive their salaries conveniently, as well as make payments at over 74,000 POS terminals nationwide. Recently, Telecom Egypt agreed on a deal with Juniper Networks, a global leader in secure, AI-driven networks, to provide IP-based, high-performance networking solutions as well as develop more skilled ICT users in the country. Following the signing, Juniper CEO Rami Rahim, said, “Digital transformation in Egypt is moving at an extremely fast pace, setting an impressive example for other emerging markets to follow.”

According to Egypt’s communication minister Amr Talaat, ICT’s contribution to the Egyptian economy rose by three percent between September 2018 and June 2019, from fifteen percent to eighteen percent. Talaat expects overall growth to reach nineteen percent by the end of 2019, saying his ministry was working harder to increase ICT’s GDP input by 8 points before 2022. Indeed, if ICT adds twenty-seven percent, the country will become North Africa’s technology leader. It already exports digital services to the tune of $3.67 billion, with growth expected to add heft over the next two years. Egyptians will consider this Mastercard agreement another step towards becoming, indeed, the biggest technology garden in North Africa.

By Caleb Ajinomoh

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