The global initative touched down in Egypt for the first time, partnering with CBE to empower fintech innovaters.
With almost 70% of Egyptians unbanked or underbanked, the country’s growing fintech movement has never been more important, nor is support of the startups and innovators driving the sector forwards. When we discuss entrepreneurship, we always refer to the ‘ecosystem’ - and for good reason. If we are to ride the wave of digital transformation and all of its potentially life-changing benefits, we need to involve all stakeholders, from investors to accelerators and everyone in between.
One stakeholder that is doing its part is financial services giant, Visa, which has recently announced the winners of the Egyptian edition of its Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI), a global innovation programme that challenges startups to solve the payment challenges of tomorrow, enhance their product propositions, and provide visionary solutions for Visa’s global network of partners. For Egypt’s burgeoning fintech scene, Visa collaborated with the Central Bank of Egypt’s initiative, Fintech Egypt, which shares many similar goals with Visa in elevating and accelerating the progress of the fintech sector.
With fintech among the most prolific and attractive sectors in Egypt at present, VEI has certainly made an impact with over 270 startups applying for the competition. Out of a host of innovative outfits, only 20 were shortlisted, five of whom made it to the finale.
The winner of the finale came in the form of Neqabty, a platform that aims to bridge the gap between syndicates and their members. The startup won a cash prize of EGP 500K, in addition to a further EGP 100K prize money after being voted as the audience’s favourite fintech. Mobile payments and loyalty start-up, ZealPay, won second place and went home with EGP350K, while ElGameya, which specialises in rotating savings and credit, won third place and received EGP250K.
For Rami Aboul Naga, Deputy Governor of CBE, the competition is critical in helping the financial services industry in general, aligning with CBE’s own vision.
“The Central Bank of Egypt throws its full support behind VEI as a global competition that so many fintech startups and entrepreneurs in Egypt can benefit from,” Aboul Naga said. “It aligns with the framework of CBE’s own fintech and innovation strategy, which looks to foster a supportive environment for fintech companies and stimulate the launch of more innovative fintech solutions that are capable of providing banking and financial services to all segments of society easily and with minimal cost. It's a critical step in achieving Egypt's Vision 2030, as well as a digital transformation movement that can establish Egypt as a regional hub for the Arab and African fintech industries.”
Beyond the capital injection, the VEI winners will enjoy a wealth of opportunities, since VEI boasts a sweeping network of almost 9,000 startups across the world. More than just a competition or an initiative, the VEI’s work has helped startups from over 100 countries to collectively raise more than $2.5 billion in funding since its launch in 2015.
Ultimately, though, this is just the beginning for a fintech sector in Egypt that is still only on the cusp of changing the very way Egyptians live - and VEI will look to pay its part in the years to come.