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Thursday, 18 March 2021

We still ♥ banknotes

Egypt is the world’s second most banknote-reliant country — and has the third highest percentage of unbanked citizens. Only 45% of payments in Egypt are cashless transactions and the credit card penetration rate currently stands at a measly 3%, Merchant Machine said in a report. At least 67% of the Egyptian population remains unbanked, with only Morocco (71%) and Vietnam (69%) with a higher rate of unbanked adults, according to the report. We also have the third-lowest number of ATMs per capita (20 per 100k adults), coming in just above Kenya and Nigeria.

Led by the Central Bank of Egypt and with the active participation of the Tax Authority, policymakers have for several years now been aggressively pushing to phase out cash and enhance financial inclusion. The drive has seen several key decisions to nudge the country towards a paperless future, including the National Payments Council’s 2017 decision to ban government entities using paper cheques or cash payments to private sector businesses for amounts above EGP 20k. The Government Accounting Act later stipulated that all government transactions worth more than EGP 500 must be electronic. The pandemic has also helped push e-payment activities, with the number of mobile wallets in Egypt jumping at least 17% between March and October of last year, and the central bank has offered a wide range of incentives to get more merchants onto point-of-sale machines while ordering fee holidays on digital banking transactions.

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