National Bank of Egypt exempts MSMEs from e-commerce payments fees till June-end

The National Bank of Egypt, the country’s biggest state-run lender, announced on Thursday that it is exempting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from paying e-commerce payment fees until the end of June.

The bank is scrapping all activation, monthly, and additional service fees for e-commerce payments, in a step aimed at backing the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) push to boost electronic payment collection services and encourage MSMEs to join the formal economy.

As part of its 2019 financial inclusion strategy, which outlines SME support as one of its key pillars, the CBE has also been working to make bank financing more accessible to MSMEs.

Under new CBE regulations issued earlier this week, banks are now required to allocate a larger percentage of their lending portfolios to MSMEs.

Banks are now required to increase micro, small, and medium enterprises’ share of their loan portfolios by five percentage points to 25 percent, under the new CBE directives.

The move is expected to translate into an extra 117 billion pounds in funding for 120,000 MSMEs by the end of 2022, the CBE said.

Small enterprises alone will be allocated 10 percent of banks’ lending portfolios — or around 55 billion pounds. Banks will be required to set a plan to achieve these levels of funding distribution, and report their progress on a quarterly basis. The directive is part of the CBE’s financial inclusion strategy, launched in 2019, which outlines SME support as one of its key pillars. NBE is offering reprieve from e-commerce payments fees paid by MSMEs till June-end.