African fintech complementing banks, not disrupting them

Financial technology firms in Africa are “complementing” the banking sector rather than disrupting it, an executive at Egypt’s most significant private-sector bank has said.

Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, chairman of Commercial International Lender (CIB), said Tuesday that the lending company was “ready” for a growing wave of fintechs that are shaking up the financial solutions with new technologies.

“We are ready with regards to technology. We look at fintechs and mobile operators and payment firms as partners, we collaborate together,” he told CNBC on Tuesday.

But Al-Arab went a stage further to say that he thought fintech organizations were not disruptive to the financial solutions.

“Fintechs in Africa generally are not disrupting the existing model but, actually, they happen to be complementing the existing model.”

Africa has been a key region for fintechs looking to engage citizens who haven’t previously had access to the financial solutions. The World Lender estimates that 2 billion adults worldwide fall in to the category of “underbanked” or “unbanked”, conditions that refer to people with restricted access to formal financial services.

Egypt has been building its own efforts toward increasing financial inclusion, CIB’s Al-Arab said, adding that the country’s central lender has established its own financial inclusion device to handle the issue.

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