Central Bank of Egypt's Deputy Governor Lobna Helal (front row, center) joins participants for a group photo.

Interoperability & DFS crucial to development leaps, says CBE DG

Interoperability plays a fundamental role in making developmental leaps through the promotion of digital financial services (DFS), said Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Deputy Governor Lobna Helal at the opening of a joint learning program on 25 November.

Co-hosted by CBE and AFI, the program is focusing on the central bank’s experiences in developing robust policy and regulatory guidance that address the challenges of implementing DFS interoperability in Egypt nearly 40 participants from 30 member institutions are attending the four-day capacity building event in Cairo

“Proper payments system and bringing the informal sector into the formal sector is a cornerstone for monetary policy and the effectiveness of monetary policy tools”, Deputy Governor Helal explained.

Interoperability is a major tool to drive account activity that is helping spur access and usage of wider range of financial services to underbanked populations.

Egypt is well-placed to co-host the event having, in 2013, become one of the first countries in the world to establish an interoperable mobile ecosystem. This system leverages high penetration rates of mobile phones and helps encourage innovation in payments and remittances.

“We would also like to see interoperability across borders, and this is very important given the presence of so many members of AFI at this event,” she added.

Meanwhile, AFI Head Region of Office - Africa and Arab Region Ivan Ssettimba highlighted the importance of interoperability on financial inclusion goals.

“Interoperable payment systems have the potential to make it easier for people to send payments to anyone and receive payments from anyone quickly and cheaply,” he said. “This is of importance to women and other disadvantaged groups, who are generally economically disadvantaged and less included in the formal financial system.”

AFI members Bank of Ghana, Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (BCEAO), Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank Bangladesh, Central Bank of Kenya are among the speakers at the event, as well as strategic partners Visa and Mastercard.

Over the course of the training, participants are covering a range of topics -- including efficient interoperable payment systems and cross-border interoperability initiatives -- that aid in the development of country-specific action plans.

The JLP marks the second AFI event co-hosted by CBE this year, after members from the network’s financial inclusion data and global standards proportionality working groups gathered for bi-annual meetings in March.

CBE is heavily involved in the AFI network. Its governor, Tarek Amer, assumed the role of Chair on the AFI board earlier this year. The institution acts as vice chair of AFI’s Gender Inclusive Finance Committee and became one of only eleven Gender Inclusive Ambassador institutions recognized at the 2019 AFI Global Policy Forum for their work towards greater gender inclusion and closing the gender access to finance gap. First AFI Global Policy Forum held in the Arab Region was co-hosted by CBE in 2017.