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Egypt to open first digital bank later this year

A subsidiary of Banque Misr will open the first digital-only bank in Egypt this year Reuters
A subsidiary of Banque Misr will open the first digital-only bank in Egypt this year
  • Egypt to launch digital bank
  • First under new licensing rules
  • 73% of Egyptians unbanked

Misr Digital Innovation will open Egypt’s first digital bank towards the end of the year, as it looks to appeal to the North African’s country’s younger and unbanked demographic.

MTI, a subsidiary of Banque Misr, is the first bank to have received approval to establish a digital bank by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) since it issued licensing regulations for companies wishing to apply last July.

The new bank will be called “onebank” and, according to its press release, will provide “a diverse range of banking solutions that contribute to the development of financial services in Egypt”.

MTI was the first company to apply for a digital banking licence in August last year, when it announced that the new bank would have no branches and will be “essentially run on technology”. 

Clients will be able to “open a bank account from anywhere in minutes” and deposit money using credit cards and mobile phones. The new service will be aimed primarily at young people.

A range of companies have expressed interest in applying for a digital banking licence since July. They include National Bank of Egypt, Emirates NBD, Orascom Financial Holding, Fawry, Ostoul Securities Brokerage, QNB and China’s OPay.

According to the World Bank’s most recent Findex survey in 2021, only 27 percent of Egypt’s population was banked, compared with 14 percent in 2011. Despite fast growth in the banking sector, the country accounts for 4 percent of the world’s total unbanked population.

Egypt’s fintech industry has thrived in recent years. In early 2023, MNT-Halan, an Egyptian company specialising in mobile payments and financial services for underbanked communities, became the first Egyptian fintech unicorn – a start-up that has reached a valuation of $1 billion.

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