In an insightful interview with Economy Middle East, Leila Serhan, senior vice president and group country manager for North Africa, Levant and Pakistan at Visa, shares exciting updates about Visa’s expanding presence in Egypt amid a rapidly evolving digital landscape. With a keen focus on innovation, Visa has recently achieved remarkable growth by expanding operations in Africa by an impressive 50 percent, and as a result their Egypt office has tripled in size. “Visa has always strived to be at the forefront of innovation in its aim to build the largest, most dynamic, global and open network of technology, partnerships and people,” Serhan says.
Egypt’s thriving fintech ecosystem
Egypt, a vibrant and promising market in the North Africa, Levant, and Pakistan region, presents an exciting landscape for start-ups, a flourishing fintech sector, and a tech-savvy young population. However, the nation also faces economic challenges, underscoring the urgency for financial inclusion and a rapid transition toward a digital society.
Serhan firmly believes in the potential of transforming Egypt’s cash-driven economy into a cashless society that embraces financial inclusion. In particular, Visa envisions a future where a digital economy is within reach for all, with a particular emphasis on empowering underserved segments of the population.
How is Visa innovating
In this ever-expanding era of digital banking and cashless transactions, Visa takes the lead in shaping the future of commerce and revolutionizing the way money moves, and their digital solutions and innovative offerings have become instrumental in driving this transformative trend. With solutions such as Click to Pay, Tap to Phone, and the Visa Acceptance Cloud, Visa has successfully redefined payment technologies across various sectors, including urban transit, unattended retail, and mobile phones. Collaborating with 50 fintech providers in the NALP region alone, Visa empowers these providers to offer seamless payment experiences to their customers.
“With the aim of advancing resilient, innovative and inclusive economies across the African continent, Visa recently pledged to invest $1 billion by 2027. This investment will focus on strengthening the payment ecosystem through new innovations and technologies, supporting the digitization of economies, and investing in upskilling, talent development and capacity building,” Serhan says. For Visa, innovation is a driving force for growth, and in Egypt’s current economic climate, growth is key.
Collaborations are fundamental
Recognizing the pivotal role of education in the transition toward a cashless society, Visa has placed a strong emphasis on fostering digital literacy for all. To bring this vision to life, Visa has joined forces with INJAZ Egypt to create impactful programs such as “Personal Economics” and the “San3ety Schools” that would offer young girls access to necessary financial skills. Visa is also collaborating with partners to advance financial literacy education in several languages, including the first Arabic version of Visa’s video series, “Practical Money Skills,” released in Egypt and Morocco.
As part of their commitment to nurturing inclusivity and contributing to the country’s future growth, Visa launched the global “She’s Next” campaign in Egypt during 2022, empowering local women entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprise owners with funding, business coaching and networking opportunities. Following the success of the 2022 program, Visa is pleased to bring back ‘She’s Next’ to Egypt shortly.
Through extensive collaborations, Visa promotes financial literacy, and ultimately, financial inclusion. In Egypt, Visa’s strategy aligns with the efforts of the Egyptian government and the Central Bank of Egypt in providing seamless and secure transactions between financial institutions, merchants and consumers.
Financial inclusion on the rise
Tech-based disruption is not isolated from awareness and education. Recognizing this, Visa collaborated with Meeza to educate consumers on the importance of security in their everyday online payments through the Stay Secure initiative. Egypt’s financial inclusion rate reached an impressive 64.8 percent by the end of last year, a milestone that Serhan attributes to the ongoing advancements in digital banking and payment systems. “We have expanded our efforts to include digital banks, wallets, fintech companies, governmental and non-governmental institutions. Low-cost acceptance solutions such as QR and Tap to Phone are game-changing for SMEs to expand their reach,” she says.
As a pioneering payment company in the market, Visa recognizes the significant role of fintech companies and other payment innovators in making digital payments accessible to both consumers and businesses. In 2022, Visa collaborated with Fintech Egypt and the Central Bank of Egypt to launch the Visa Everywhere Initiative, providing fintech and payment startups with opportunities to connect with key stakeholders, and fostering growth and collaboration within the fintech industry. By empowering fintechs and facilitating partnerships with banks, Visa aligns with its ‘network of networks’ strategy, which aims to bring innovation, trust, reliability, and industry standards to the broader payments ecosystem.
For more on banking and finance, click here.