Fawry, an electronic payment company, plans to expand its services and outlets in 2018 to increase the company’s profit margin and overcome high operating costs.
Mohamed Okasha, managing director of Fawry, said the company plans to increase its outlets to 100,000 in 2018 compared to 70,000 outlets this year. The company also provides e-payment services for monthly installment payments for the beneficiaries of social housing projects.
The electronic payments market witnessed major changes recently. How do you see the impact of these changes?
Indeed, this year witnessed major changes, mainly the establishment of the National Payments Council that contributed to the development of the electronic payment market. Before the new council, the electronic payments sector was ruled by a number of different entities.
However, the new council gathered all the authorities related to the sector under one body. The council includes the Central Bank of Egypt, the Ministry of Finance, relevant sovereign bodies, and all parties operating in the electronic payments sector. Being chaired by the Egyptian presidency, the council’s steps are fast and effective.
The National Payments Council mainly aims to achieve financial inclusion and make all payments electronic.
The council positively impacted the electronic payments market, especially Fawry. The company managed to expand its services in government sectors, including payment of traffic tickets and the renewal of drivers’ licenses.
In addition, Fawry provides e-payment of university fees and electricity bills. There are thousands of customers using these services. For example, some universities have substituted cash payment of their fees with Fawry’s e-payment.
Regarding the banking sector, we offer special services for different banks to encourage their customers to use their neglected bank accounts.
About 10% of Egyptians have active bank accounts, while about 20% of people have inactive bank accounts, only used for withdrawal and deposit.
How do Fawry’s services encourage bank customers to use their bank accounts effectively?
The bank customers can use Fawry services, instead of ATMs, to withdraw their salaries, pay mobile phone bills, recharge phone credit, pay utility bills, renew their driver’s license, and pay traffic tickets.
There are about nine million e-portfolios in Egypt, but they are not fully operational. However, Fawry services would encourage bank customers to activate their portfolios.
In addition, Fawry points of sale help banks provide their services in different regions, as we currently have more than 70,000 Fawry machines nationwide, most of which accept credit cards. These service points provide part of the basic services usually offered by banks, such as cash deposit and withdrawal.
What are the investment opportunities you see in the market?
We pump big investments annually to absorb the continuous growth of the e-payment sector. The company invests EGP 30-40m annually to develop its infrastructure.
We conduct about two million e-payments per day through our machines, of which 47% are located outside Cairo and Alexandria. Moreover, we currently have 70,000 points of payment and we aim to increase them to 100,000 points.
Currently, we provide payment services to a wide range of government services such as water, electricity, and gas companies. In addition to providing loan repayment services to some banks, as well as payment of insurance premiums and social housing installments, in which we cooperate with the Mortgage Finance Fund.
There are also strong opportunities with the services and subscriptions sector, such as club subscriptions and professional syndicates like the Egyptian Syndicate of Engineers, The Egyptian Medical Syndicate, and The Egyptian Pharmacists’ Syndicate.
In addition, we offer our services to the customers and partners of both Uber and Careem, in terms of withdrawing and depositing funds or the exchange of monthly bonuses for drivers through the machines immediately. Moreover, soon we will be launching our services for Takaful and Karama pensions through instant machines.
What are the most important challenges that you are currently facing?
There are a number of challenges that we will be facing over the next year, most notably the excessive cost increase due to the liberalisation of the exchange rate and the increase in taxes, which backfired on the operating costs.
While we cannot charge the customer incremental costs because we are at a stage where we aim to encourage the customer to use electronic payment services, we are expanding our services and increasing our operations to increase profit margins and overcome the problem of high operating costs.
How do you see competition in the market? What are your competitive advantages compared to other companies?
Competition is a positive thing for the market, it helps increase user awareness of online payment services and encourages them to use these services.
The market currently accommodates many companies and we have not reached the stage of saturation that makes companies entice customers from competitors.
As for the competitive advantages, we are the most popular service, compared to the rest of the companies, on top of our work during the current period to expand the range of services that we offer, where we signed a contract with beIN SPORTS for their customers to pay subscriptions through us. We also agreed with the company to pick up premiums from beIN customers—one million customers to date—in addition to more than 200 services that we currently have.
What is the volume of payments through your network?
We expect the amount of electronic payment through our network to reach EGP 25bn by the end of this year, and we expect the volume of payments to grow by 30% next year.
What was the overall volume of social housing payments till now?
We received every three months more than EGP 1bn for nearly 200,000 customers, and we are currently negotiating with a number of banks to enable the payment of the monthly installments of the units through immediate machines.
What are the banks that you cooperate with?
We have partnerships with more than 15 banks, including services with some active banks and others under implementation.