Egypt’s Fawry eyes UAE deal, Saudi and Kuwaiti markets

Founded in 2009, Fawry offers digital payments to companies and individuals in Egypt, where many do not have a bank account. (Reuters)
Updated 08 September 2019

Egypt’s Fawry eyes UAE deal, Saudi and Kuwaiti markets

  • Fawry offers digital payments to companies and individuals in Egypt
  • Fawry handles around 2.1 million transactions daily and collected 40 billion Egyptian pounds last year

CAIRO: Egyptian digital payments company Fawry plans to expand into the United Arab Emirates by the end of the year and also hopes to enter Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in 2020, its managing director said.
Founded in 2009, Fawry offers digital payments to companies and individuals in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, where many do not have a bank account.
Mohamed Okasha said that Fawry, which made a stock market debut in August, planned to complete a deal with one of the largest listed UAE banks to use its technology platform in the Gulf country.
He declined to identify the bank or value of the deal.
“We are looking at Arab countries where many Egyptians live whom we can offer many services such as bill payments,” he said. “We hope to enter the Saudi and Kuwaiti markets in 2020,” he added, without giving more details.
Okasha said Fawry, which is owned by local and foreign investment funds and dominates the Egyptian market, had no plans to expand to Africa, as speculated by some analysts.
“Egypt is a huge market with 100 million people. We don’t find an African market as large as that. We still find big growth chances (in Egypt),” he said.
The firm invests between 250 million Egyptian pounds and 300 million pounds annually from their own resources. It plans to have 300 “Fawry plus” branches, which offer most services, within five years, compared to 70 now, he said. It also has 105,000 service points.
Fawry handles around 2.1 million transactions daily and collected 40 billion pounds ($2.43 billion) last year, according to its website. It has around 20 million customers.
Its share price has risen to around 10.24 pounds from the debut of 6.46 pounds.


G7 says Libra should not launch until risks ‘adequately addressed’

Updated 18 October 2019

G7 says Libra should not launch until risks ‘adequately addressed’

  • A currency like Libra could undermine sovereign nations’ control over their exchange rates, warns France’s economy minister
  • If it enters circulation, Libra would offer an alternative to traditional bank financial transfers

WASHINGTON: Facebook should not launch its global digital currency Libra until proper regulations are in place to handle the potential risks, the Group of Seven said Thursday.
And France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire warned that a currency like Libra could undermine sovereign nations’ control over their exchange rates.
“It’s a matter of democracy, not just a simple economic question,” Le Maire told reporters, saying Facebook’s currency could have an “immediate global reach” through the social network’s huge membership.
Le Maire presented the Group of Seven nation’s statement on Libra, saying “no global stablecoin project should begin operation until the legal, regulatory and oversight challenges and risks are adequately addressed,” including the potential for money laundering and terror financing.
But, he told reporters, “The key question is the question of sovereignty.”
“Do we want a private company to have... the same power, and the same sovereignty, as democratic states” over currencies.
Libra, which would be backed by reserve assets unlike cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, has faced a steady drumbeat of stern warnings from central bankers and financial regulators.
European Central Bank board member Benoit Coeure presented a report on digital currencies to the G7 finance ministers, who are gathering on the margins of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
The report said a framework for oversight of Libra “is an absolute prerequisite,” and urged regulators to coordinate their work to prevent issuers from seeking out the most favorable country from which to operate.
If it enters circulation, Libra would offer an alternative to traditional bank financial transfers, a disruptive change that has aroused resistance and skepticism.
Facebook’s digital currency chief David Marcus told reporters in Washington that the issues raised by Le Maire are “legitimate concerns.”
“We’re determined to answer these concerns with real solutions that will meet or exceed the standards of the current system,” he told a small group of reporters at an event in Washington.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive, was in Washington as well Thursday, and is due to testify before the US Congress next week on the social media network’s impact on financial services.
The Libra Association, which will oversee Facebook’s proposed currency and officially launched Monday in Geneva, also said in a statement that Libra “is being designed to respect national sovereignty over monetary policy in the digital space, not undermine it.”
But central bankers remain concerned about the prospects.
Lael Brainard, an influential member of the US Federal Reserve board, said Facebook’s proposed currency presented a host of risks and regulatory challenges for preventing money-laundering and assuring financial stability, and could be a challenge to the traditional role played by banks.
“There are likely to be financial stability risks for a stablecoin network with global reach,” she said in a speech Wednesday. “If not managed effectively, liquidity, credit, market, or operational risks — alone or in combination — could trigger a loss of confidence and a classic run.”
China, which is not a G7 member and decided two years ago to block cryptocurrency transactions, has recently sped up plans to introduce its own digital money.
Libra also has faced challenges from within after major financial and commercial players in recent weeks have backed out of the project, including Visa, Mastercard, eBay, Stripe, PayPal and the online travel firm Bookings Holdings.
The 21 founding members include the online payments company PayU, the telecoms firms Vodafone and Iliad, as well as tech outfits Uber, Spotify and Farfetch, blockchain operations such as Anchorage, Xapo and Coinbase and the venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz, Ribbit Capital and non-profits Kiva and Mercy Corps.