Dubai: A multiparty ecosystem, which includes the Egyptian government and global payment major Mastercard, will race against time to exploit the 100 per cent mobile penetration for financial inclusion, which would be linked to their National ID.

The scheme, which includes the telephone service provider along with banks, Mastercard, the central bank, along with the Egyptian government plans to include about 54 million nationals on a mobile payment cloud that would facilitate payment.

If any Egyptian has a smartphone or a feature phone, one would have the functionality that would allow you to receive either salary or government pension, making it a safe way to keep money and pay at a merchant, or pay utility bills and even remit money, Mastercard said.

“Banking is 80 years old in Egypt and we haven’t really moved much ahead. But now I think we have everything (in the form of mobile penetration) to drive that (financial inclusion) very quickly ...,” Michael Miebach, president of Mastercard Middle East and Africa, told Gulf News.

For this, Mastercard has signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Egyptian authorities and the ministry of communication and information and technology to further financial inclusion in the country and maximise government efficiency, Miebach said.

“The initiative will partner the government to take the national ID to the masses. There will be work done to leverage the existing mobile gateway of the country and coupling that with the national ID to create a mobile payment create an environment where every single Egyptian is authenticated to a mobile payment account that would facilitate payment,” he added.

About 65 per cent of the Egyptian population is unbanked, triggering an effort from the government, which has tried over the past 4-5 years to increase the level of financial inclusion through different means. Mastercard was also involved earlier with the ministry of finance to drive prepaid cards into the market and use those prepaid cards for government employees and pensioners to receive salary.


“The government has now embarked on a strategy to say that we want to leverage our existing payment infrastructure as much as possible, but at the same time start embarking on the future by creating a mobile payment system, and that would be most efficient, and most safe and secure way to get every Egyptian in the financial system,” Miebach said.

Kenya and South Africa has made a lot of progress on a card based system, but Egypt is in a unique position because they are leveraging both, he added.

The pilot project to link the National ID to the exiting mobile ecosystem would happen in another three months, the rest would be driven by the government.

Middle East and Africa is the fastest growing region for Mastercard when it comes to revenues and volumes. The level of cash depending on country ranges between 85 and 95 per cent of all retail transactions.

“We see strong underlying strong GDP [gross domestic product] growth compared to the rest of the world. In a secular trend of displacing cash with electronic payments is driving growth faster in the region than anywhere else in the world,” he said.