Walie El-Din Lotfy, deputy general manager for the corporate sector at Credit Agricole Egypt, said the bank’s business strategy is in line with the Egyptian government’s objectives.

In an exclusive interview with Daily News Egypt, Lotfy said the bank mainly directs funding to sectors that the Egyptian state needs and aims to develop. The bank aims to be an effective contributor to the Egyptian economy. It is also committed to supporting community development and preserving the environment.

He pointed out that the bank has an important role in introducing French investors to the Egyptian market, and that it plans to organize a major international conference for this purpose, stressing that Egyptian-French relations are now at their best.

Lotfy pointed out that the bank has a very strong budget and can provide US dollar financing without the help of the parent bank.

How does the bank contribute to the Egyptian economy?

The bank provides various banking services, whether financing or transactions, to all sectors. It finances large, small and medium-sized businesses, in addition to mortgage financing. We do not exclude any sector and our work is in line with the Egyptian government’s objectives for development and growth.

What is the bank’s role in supporting trade relations between Egypt and France?

Egyptian-French relations are now at their best and there is strategic cooperation in all sectors. Crédit Agricole is part of this relationship. We offer assistance when needed to seal economic agreements between Egypt and France.

Does the bank encourage French investors to work on the Egyptian market?

Egypt recently received a high-level French delegation, and of course the bank attended the meetings that took place between the French delegation and Egyptian officials. The bank has played an important role in introducing French investors to investment opportunities in Egypt, and the bank also plans to organize a major international conference for investors and experts from certain sectors, to present investment opportunities. investment in Egypt. This conference was supposed to be held some time ago, but due to the pandemic and then the Russian-Ukrainian war, we postponed it for some time. We undertake to hold it as soon as possible.

What are the main sectors that receive financing from the bank?

First of all, we finance all sectors, but of course we can focus on certain ones. Basically, we direct funding to the sectors that Egypt seeks to develop, such as food, medicine and others. In other words, our business strategy aligns with the objectives of the Egyptian government. We are also committed to supporting the development of Egyptian society and preserving the environment.

What is the bank’s contribution to mortgage finance initiatives?

The bank is very interested in financing this sector, and this stems from the interest of the parent company in this sector as well. Crédit Agricole grants one in three mortgages in France. In Egypt, we strive to support this sector, either through the initiatives of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) or separately. We have already signed a cooperation protocol with the Social Fund for Housing and Mortgage Financing. We have a good portfolio for this sector and we aim to double it by the end of this year.

Given the depreciation of the Egyptian pound against the US dollar, does the bank receive support from the parent company to offer financing in foreign currencies?

No, our budget is very solid and we can finance any operation requiring foreign exchange without the help of the parent bank.

Has the bank increased its capital to reach the limit stipulated in the new banking law?

We increased the issued and paid-up capital of the bank to EGP 5 billion in December 2021 from EGP 1.243 billion in 2020, an increase of 302.04%. The bank complied with the requirements of the new Banking Law No. 194 of 2020, which required banks operating in the Egyptian market to increase their capital to a minimum of EGP 5 billion instead of EGP 500 million.

What is your geographic expansion plan in the Egyptian market?

The bank is present in most Egyptian governorates. In Upper Egypt, for example, the bank has branches in Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Luxor, Qena and Aswan. We also have branches in Tanta, Banha, Damietta, Shebin El-Kom and soon in Sharqeya. The bank aims to open three to five new branches this year to expand its network to 85-87 branches.

On the other hand, we managed to expand the bank’s ATM network from 190 to 250 machines in 2021, implement our digital strategy and strengthen our efforts to reach customers in various governorates. Based on a geographic study, these ATMs have been installed in areas where there are no ATMs to improve customer experience and support financial inclusion, in line with ECB guidelines.

The bank recently opened a new Banki Store branch. What type of services are offered by these branches?

We have opened a new Banki shop Palm Strip Mall branch in 6th of October City, the bank’s 82nd branch in Egypt. It was also the 15th such branch. The Banki Store concept was launched at the end of 2018 and is part of the bank’s strategy to expand its presence in urban areas. the Banki shop primarily aims to increase customer satisfaction by providing innovative services and solutions. We plan to transform all our branches into Banki Stores within three to five years.

Through the new branch, Crédit Agricole offers a complete and global digital experience to all its customers, balancing digital services and banking advice, under the slogan “100% digital, 100% human”. Thus, the new branch embodies one of the main values ​​of Crédit Agricole, that of being at the service of the community and of being the bank closest to customers.

The innovative Banki Store branches are characterized by the optimization of operations to reduce paper consumption and ensure rapid service. Additionally, customers can view their account statements and transactions on mobile phones and various devices running iOS or Android.

The account managers of these branches devote more time to strengthening the relationship with customers, by providing them with optimal and personalized financial solutions for all their projects.

The new branch in the Palm Strip Mall is the culmination of Crédit Agricole’s efforts to promote financial inclusion, offering a full range of banking services and digital activities enabled for different sections of society.

How does the bank contribute to financial inclusion and digital transformation in the Egyptian market?

The CBE strongly promotes financial inclusion and digital services. Banks operating in the Egyptian market, including Crédit Agricole, are undergoing continuous transformation to remain competitive in the face of market challenges, innovative technologies and ever-changing customer requirements.

Our goal is to be among the best banks in Egypt, we work to develop our banking services and provide innovative solutions to achieve the highest level of customer experience and satisfaction.

We also strive to always be one of the best banks and to provide new services to meet customer needs, lead digital transformation and achieve sustainable growth. The Bank has injected significant investments into infrastructure projects to support the digital transformation process and protect customers against cybersecurity risks.

How many customers use the bank’s digital services?

One in three customers uses the bank’s digital products. In 2021, the number of active users of digital services increased by 22%, which led to a significant increase in digital transactions of 44% for individuals and 113% for businesses.

The bank is also working with a group of clubs to convert their membership cards into bank cards, such as Shooting Club and Sporting Club in Alexandria. About 350,000 membership cards of the two clubs have been converted into bank cards.

When will the bank join the Instant Payment Network recently launched by the ECB?

Our goal is to be one of the first banks to join the instant payment network. We fully support this orientation of the CBEs.

Does the bank plan to establish payment companies or obtain a digital banking license?

Not for the moment. We are constantly developing our banking services through our digital channels.

Has the offering of 18% savings certificates by the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr affected the bank’s deposit portfolio?

We all know that the offer of these savings certificates occurs in exceptional circumstances, and serves economic objectives, and we must contribute to achieving this objective. We have already witnessed the issuance of similar certificates with high yields, such as 20% certificates. These certificates may have a limited impact on the bank.

We study the interest rates of our savings certificates and market trends to make the right decision at the right time.

Should the bank allocate provisions for potential credit risks due to the Russian-Ukrainian war?

No, we have no direct or indirect relationship with Russia or Ukraine. With regard to import operations, there are no risks for the bank’s financial situation. The bank’s figures and performance indicators for the first quarter of this year are due to be announced soon and will show a significant improvement in the bank’s performance.

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