The Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI) will hold its ninth annual conference on Monday to discuss means of enhancing financial inclusion in the Egyptian banking sector.
This comes as the institute has already completed the preparations of the preliminary draft of the national strategy for financial education, and handed it over to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for review.
According to a statement issued by the EBI, the selection of this year’s topic is attributed to the important contribution of financial inclusion to the GDP, social welfare, income distribution equality, poverty alleviation, and business creation. It also comes in the context of the CBE’s support for financial inclusion through different steps, such as encouraging Egyptian banks to participate in the “Arab Financial Inclusion Week.”
The conference provides a platform for specialists to share experiences about best practices and successful plans related to financial inclusion. Over its three sessions, it will discuss the status and developments of international financial inclusion and the central bank’s role in achieving financial inclusion, as well as how practices to minimize risk have a direct and indirect impact on financial inclusion.
The discussions will also focus on commercial banks’ strategies and best practices towards financial inclusion, including the implementation of internet and mobile banking services, electronic payment systems, and cyber security measures to protect consumers against financial fraud. The sessions will also tackle financial consumer protection as the main pillar of financial inclusion, with a special focus on customised financial inclusion efforts towards marginalised consumers, including women, children and youth, and micro, small, and medium enterprises.
The annual conference this year hosts a number of international speakers representing reputable organizations, such as the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), GIZ, FinTech, MasterCard, Women’s World Banking, World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI), International Finance Cooperation, and Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI). In addition to the central bank representatives from Egypt and Bangladesh, the Egyptian Financial Services Authority (EFSA), and Egyptian bank representatives from the National Bank of Egypt, Banque Du Caire, and QNB ALAHLI Egypt.
The conference this year is also inviting recognised expert Nimal A. Fernando, a global financial inclusion strategies consultant.
In a statement to Daily News Egypt, EBI said that governments around the world have put financial inclusion as an official goal, which has been included as an integral part of the UN 2030 strategy, as well as one of their sustainable development goals.
According to the institute, access to financial services opens doors to individuals and families, helps them control their consumer behaviour and make rational investment decisions, and enables companies to obtain credit to expand their business and develop their activities, as well as create more jobs.
Moreover, EBI stated that central banks play an important role in creating the necessary environment to activate financial inclusion and balance between guaranteeing the provision of financial services to various social groups and protecting banks from the risks that may arise as a result of the expansion of the grant of finance.
It added that the banks’ leadership is working hard to achieve the goals of financial inclusion to contribute to social development, in addition to their commercial role.
In this regard, banks are pursuing expansionary policies through the development of financial products and services and channels of communication with customers to enhance financial inclusion.
According to the institute, banks’ procedures for financial inclusion also include the development of online and phone banking, along with electronic protection policies to ensure that customers are protected from financial manipulation.
It stressed that banks should develop their business models, enhance customer confidence, and participate in educating customers on how to use and benefit from financial products and services, in order to attract more customers within the formal banking sector.
EBI also noted that the decision-makers in the country should work to develop the legislative environment to enhance the objectives of financial inclusion and electronic banking mechanisms.
With regards to the National Strategy for Financial Education, the institute said that it aims to spread and increase financial awareness among Egyptians, especially financially marginalised groups, in order to raise their standard of living and enhance their ability to better understand financial products and services.
The strategy aims to increase financial inclusion through official financial channels, in addition to preparing and formulating a curriculum for financial education that is suitable for each age and social group, next to employing banking and financial experts capable of meeting the needs of individuals and institutions.
In 2013, EBI established a national committee for the development of this strategy. It includes regulators, ministries, financial institutions, government institutions, educational and training institutions, and donors.
In 2012, the institute launched the “For Tomorrow” initiative for financial education and the development of financial products and services suitable for children and youth in Egypt. Through this initiative, EBI successfully educated 5.5 million youth around the country.