Interview mit Mr. Khalid Gabr. Mr. Gabr is the regional director of BFC Bank UK “ EzRemit”, member of BFC group holdings “ BFC Group”. EzRemit is a money transfer product that offers fast, reliable, and cost effective global money transfer services in minutes. EzRemit has an expensive network of over 55000 agent locations where customers can send or receive money to over 40 countries worldwide. Khalid has B.A in commerce from Ain Shams University in Egypt. Moreover; he proceeded his post graduate’s studies in one of France leading business schools “ESLSCA Business School” specializing in “Global Management”. Khalid has been working in the money services industry since 2005, his specialization is the money transfers.
EK: Please tell us about your relationship with banks, Do you compete with them or you work together?
We don’t compete with banks, as we have mutual benefits together. Banks are our intermediate source of exchanging money. As according to the Egyptian law, money transfer can only be done through banks.
EK: What about the challenges you are facing?
The Central Bank of Egypt is encouraging money transfers companies and is giving banks the validity to take the decision with comparison to other countries. However; the challenges we are facing lies in the long procedures in banks, technology access, bureaucracy, too many departments involved in the process like compliance, legal, and many other departments, too many documentations. Also some banks have a lack of communication as they are not updated with the other banks in the world. I do suggest that Banks should communicate with correspondents’ banks to get more information about the market and the governmental new rules and regulations. For instance; the taxes and its effect on the amount of transfers. Banks have to increase the payment channels by working as a union. In addition to the lack of marketing internationally of the money transfer services as the blue collars market is having difficulty on dealing with the banks’ products concerning with money transfers. Finally I do suggest the intervention of the monetary policy in Egypt as we really need the basic steps of initiation to make it easier for money transfer clients.
EK: What Privileges do you give to your clients ?
I would first introduce to you how the money transfer companies work. For a company owning a money transfer system to be established; first it has to get its license, either from the united kingdom or from the United states. Its more easier to get it from the united kingdom as you just have to set two main offices. One in the united kingdom and the other one in any country you desire. “EzRemit” established an office in UK and our headquarters is located in Bahrain. The departments of our companies are divided as follows compliance, Anti Money Laundry, Business team, operations team, implementation team, marketing, and sales. The main services of our company is to send and receive money. Also you need representatives in every country you transfer money to. So you need to build the receive network then the send network. Our representatives main duty is to market for us. The privileges that we are giving to our clients are the services we give to our clients. Those services are:
- Account to Credit: Money are transferred directly to the client bank account.
- Cash to Door: Money is transferred directly to the clients addresses through a courier company managed by the bank.
- Cash to Cards: Money are transferred to cards that are established with no account base and a KYC “Know Your Customer” application is only done once.
- Cash to ATM: Cash are transferred into ATM with no cards or accounts.
- Mobile Services: Money are transferred to a mobile line.
EK: Would you tell us more about the regulation authority supervising your line of business?
Our company works under the supervision of the Financial Service Authority, Financial Conduct Authority, and the Money Laundry Regulations in the united Kingdom. In Egypt we work under the rules and regulations of The Central Bank of Egypt. Also in Egypt every bank we deal with have its own set of rules.
EK: How do you deal with them ?
When dealing with the authorities of the UK or Egypt, we have no problems as long as we are abiding to their rules and regulations. However we might face some problems with banks due to several reasons. No centralization in money laundry policy in Egypt; as each bank has its own rules. No centralization on the money transfer reports in Egypt. Also the money transfer business in Egypt needs a lot of attentions as there are a lot of wasted opportunities if it has been efficiently used, investments and economy can be built on it.
EK: How do you perceive the Egyptian Economy now in Egypt?
There are a lot of encouragements of investment in Egypt by the Egyptian Government specially the (SME’s) small and medium sized Enterprises and start-ups companies. They give total support to new entrepreneurs, and the youth of Egypt are being directed a lot as there are a lot of created opportunities to them. Moreover; the cost of investments is low in comparison to other countries.
EK: Has it changed during the previous years?
Absolutely; as the concern in the previous years were about the heavy and large investments. As what keeps the economy of a country going is the success of their SME’s business.
EK: What would you say to young entrepreneurs?
I have been a while in the Ecosystem of Entrepreneurs; the problem lies in both the ecosystem and the entrepreneurs themselves. The main problems of the entrepreneurs lie on the fact that they don’t want to take any risk, as no one needs to compromise. They ignore the aspects of business and they lack marketing and financial knowledge, they also lack the knowledge on how to retain their customers. They also lack the procedures to make their business going. On the other hand; the Ecosystem lacks a lot of aspects as they are seeking publicity and ignoring a lot of aspects. Lack of information which makes it difficult to proceed. Lack of feedback and the quick loss of interest. As I do suggest the availability of a government authority to guide and lead the entrepreneurs through the way. For example; the establishment of a consultancy office for some postponed fees in finance, investment, marketing, and research. Also, the incubators of the Ecosystem should establish a committee to evaluate the entrepreneurs to help them to proceed in aspects like when to start, understand market penetration, market resistance, and enable them to know when is the right time to take decisions. Also, they shouldn’t assume that the entrepreneurs knew every aspect in business. They only have good idea and needs help to accomplish it.
For entrepreneurs, I suggest that they should be risk takers and they should believe in their ideas. They also should know the difference between the “Red Ocean “and the “Blue Ocean” and should decide which one they want to position themselves in. It’s all about competition. If you don’t have a competitive edge, do not compete. As no blue ocean lasts forever. You should continuously own a competitive edge, always have a new aspect to introduce to the market. Don’t burn yourself, don’t give all your cards at once. Never ever go to the market based on assumptions. Finally; never go to the market without a second and third plans.
EK: What do you think about financial inclusion in Egypt?
In Egypt, we are just applying terminologies, we need more applications. As large wholesalers are the one who gets the benefits from the financial inclusion, but when it comes to the small and medium- sized traders it will be too costly on them. Unless there are rules and regulations that will be on their favour and will be less costly on them. I see that the most successful financial inclusion in the world happened in “Kenya”; when the cholera disease spread in the country; the country prevented the exchange of paper money in the market, and Vodafone entered the market and implemented an application called
“M- Pesa”. By this the people were forced to apply the financial inclusion.
EK: What does it need to be more activated in Egypt?
I think the best way to activate the financial inclusion is through the implementation of laws, and maintaining the tools to help in achieving it and create substitute channels. Also, giving support to the companies that works in FINTECH. Start-ups and provide the support to them. The financial inclusion should be spread by both the public and private sector. Rules should be applied strictly to face the resistance to the financial inclusion from the market, besides the right tools should be created to face the resistance.
EK: What do you think about the application of the KYC in Egypt?
There is major bureaucracy in applying the KYC “Know Your Customer”, as institutions in Egypt don’t accept passports, or car License. They only accept ID’s although they contain the same information and they are issued from the same government authority. The KYC channels should increase by creating a union platform system to decrease the bureaucracy; as KYC, can lead products to failure if it wasn’t managed correctly. Although some banks have created a solution which was sending a bank officer to the client addresses and obtain their KYC, but what we need is an implementation of KYC all over Egypt. The KYC can be the main gate for the financial inclusion to be spread all over Egypt.