INTERVIEW: Noqood Holding seeks to expand in Egypt, create a loan company for SMEs – Markets & Companies – Business
Deputy CEO and Chief Financial Officer of Noqood Holding Ahmed Maged Group
Ahram Online spoke with Ahmed Maged, Deputy Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer of Noqood Holding Group, a non-bank financial provider, about the Egyptian fintech landscape and the potential of the local market to attract new investments.
Noqood Holding launched its operations in April in cooperation with the public company E-finance.
Ahram Online: How do you perceive the fintech landscape in Egypt?
Ahmed Maged: The past decade has seen strong momentum in the fintech industry locally and globally. Technological evolution and the use of artificial intelligence have had a positive effect on all industries and associated business models (health, transport, education, banking, etc.). Egypt is ranked among the top five countries in Africa in terms of funds invested in fintech, indicating the attractiveness of the Egyptian market. According to our studies, investments in fintech have increased by 300% in 2021.
AO: What are the potentials of the Egyptian market that have helped fintech to develop?
A M: Government direction and strategy is a crucial element in stimulating and growing the sector. Fintech is the main pillar of the digital transformation and “cashless society” strategy adopted by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi and the National Payments Council. The demographics in Egypt and the global economic challenges as a result of COVID-19 call for the digitalization and decentralization of financial services, which has led to the rise of new products and services with fully automated real-time processes and a strong consumer demand. Therefore, in recent years, the amount of local and foreign investment and the number of newly established enterprises have increased dramatically. New government bodies such as Fintech Egypt and the Fintech Hub were created by the CBE to incubate and develop new technological innovations and new entrepreneurs, and NClude Fintech Fund was created with contributions from high-level institutions in the sector banking and finance.
AO: Tell us about your business in Egypt.
A M: We established Noqood Holding in 2021 with EGP 50 million issued to provide mainly non-banking financial services to further invest in fintech-based projects, startups and SMEs. The group consists of three operational subsidiaries: Noqood Fintech SAE to manage and invest in fintech-based projects and SPVs; Noqood Digital Solution SAE, operating mainly in software development services to serve the group internally; and Kash Now SAE as a special purpose vehicle to operate personalized digital cash flow services that aim to address real business needs and gaps in organizations’ operating models.
We started our operations through Kash Now, serving the B2B/B2B2C segments with Salary Advance, which allows employees to claim a salary advance anytime before their pay date. The market is full of companies looking for instant settlements and other fintech solutions, which further encourages the adoption of the Corporate Online Card solution which provides startups and SMEs with instant cash access to online payment platforms. governmental and local/international.
AO: Is there any kind of cooperation between your company and the Egyptian government?
A M: All our services are customized and provided in cooperation with the public financial services group E-finance, which represents the backbone of the government’s financial and digital network and the main arm of the execution of the national digital transformation strategy. Additionally, we have accessed the fintech hub established by the CBE and are currently studying and discussing different cooperation opportunities and strategies. We also participated in the Fintech Talks radio show broadcast during the holy month of Ramadan.
AO: What regulations does Egypt need to adopt for fintech companies to succeed?
A M: Having specially adapted laws and regulations is essential to maintain a linear, sustainable and healthy sector and to protect the rights of consumers and other stakeholders. The CBE is currently finalizing the Fintech law with the legislator and the Financial Regulatory Authority.
AO: What are your plans for the Egyptian market?
A M: We plan to expand our digital cash flow products and establish a foothold in Egypt with reputable and professional accounts and clients. In addition, we expect during the fourth quarter of 2022 to apply for the license from the Financial Regulatory Authority to establish and operate an SME lending company to provide third-party services through our subsidiary Noqood Digital Solutions in early 2023.