What is the fintech landscape in 2022 look like in one of the largest countries in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) by population – Egypt?
As highlighted in last year’s edition of The Fintech Times’ Fintech: Middle East and Africa 2021 Report, Egypt presents a huge potential for fintech and wider digital transformation. While around two-thirds of its population is still unbanked, it has a population of over 100 million and is one of the region’s largest countries by population. It is also a low-middle income nation according to the World Bank. Also, Cairo is also the largest city in MEA and accommodates one of the world’s largest populations.
Fintech Egypt‘s Egypt Fintech Landscape 2021 report highlighted the tremendous growth in venture capital investments over the last five years from around $1million raised in three fintech deals in 2017, to reaching what exceeds $159million, only last year with 32 fintech deals.
Investments have soared by more than 300 per cent during only the last 12 months, indicating the development and expansion of mature and scaled fintech and fintech-enabled startups.
Fintech and fintech-enabled startups, in the same context, operating in this field have been steadily growing, as they increased from only two startups in 2014, to reach 112 by the end of 2021, in more than 14 innovative sub-sectors as payments and remittance, B2B Marketplaces, lending and alternative finance – to name a few.
To also note, the report highlighted that the majority of the fintech startups were started by the youth (25 to 35 years old), which further helps implement the vision behind Egypt’s national economic diversification strategy of Egypt Vision 2030.
The wider strategy has also seen consequently its own fintech strategy that is aiming to promote the sector. This has seen the likes of Fintech Egypt, which was mentioned earlier, being created that aims to be the catalyst in promoting fintech in the country.
Besides government support, both direct and in parallel, the ecosystem in recent memory has grown as well that has seen various organisations – both native and from overseas – help further mature the Egyptian market. These include the likes of associations mainly the Egyptian Fintech Association or accelerators such as Flat6Labs, Plug and Play and 500 Startups and Falak, or venture capital firms such as Sawari Ventures, MEVP, Algebra Ventures, Lotus – to name a few.
What are the fintech subsectors in Egypt like? Across the estimated 112 fintechs in Egypt – similar to both its MEA counterparts, paytech and remittances dominates at over 30 per cent (34 fintechs). In second place are lending and alternative finance fintechs at over 13 per cent (15 companies), in third are a tie with personal finance management and literacy, accounting and expense management and payroll and benefits, each commanding around an eight per cent share of the total with nine fintechs in each subcategory.
Other fintechs in Egypt include wealth management and savings in fourth place with over six per cent with seven fintechs and in fifth place B2B Marketing at over five per cent with six fintechs. With the rest they are subsectors like data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), insurtech, regtech and rotating savings and credit association (ROSCA), open banking and infrastructure, agri-fintech and proptech.
This year, Fintech Egypt also published a report called Fintech Investment-Focused H1 2022 Landscape Review. A key highlight included that in the first half of this year, fintech and fintech-enabled investments saw a 12-times increase compared to 2017, reaching an all-time high of almost $167million in a total of 31 deals (as of H1 2022). Another interesting highlight was that five of those deals had investments amounting to $10million or more. As a side note, it was Egypt who produced the first fintech unicorn in the Arab world with Fawry.
Going back to the previous report, payments and remittances dominated those H1 2022 investments with a 58 per cent total share, which was followed in second place by lending and alternative finance which had a 26 per cent share. In third place was wealth management and savings at 12 per cent and the remaining went to other fintech subsectors (B2B marketplace, data analytics, insurtech, payroll and benefits etc.).
Unique to mainly Northern African countries but especially to Egypt is its geographical location where it acts as a bridge between the Middle East and the wider Arab World as well as the African continent. Initiatives with regards to wider cross-border payments and other further economic integration – notably being part with most of its other fellow African nations in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with its Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPPS) to its other hat in the Arab World with the Arab Monetary Fund’s owned Buna Payment System, Egypt looks to further benefit in the future with more seamless cross-border payments and wider international trade and investment with its fellow African and Arab neighbours.
Also, to help further empower Egyptians, such as with this example with women business owners, Visa launched in June its global She’s Next initiative in Egypt to economically empower local women entrepreneurs and SMB owners.
The initiative is launched in partnership with Commercial International Bank (CIB), a bank in the Egyptian private sector, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the international development agency and a catalytic player driving development results.
Despite only having two fintechs in 2014, Egypt’s fintech ecosystem has grown fast and its large population presents an opportunity for it to further accelerate. Time will tell but more will definitely come out of Egypt in this space.