NEW DEVELOPMENTS, emanating from both the banking community and the Egyptian government, are bringing Egyptian retail banking up to international standards. This year, Banque Misr, Egypt's largest, launches a new Visa card for both local and international currencies. Misr, and the first Egyptian bank to offerk a dual Visa card, aims to issue 10,000 by the end of one year. According to the Visa central manager at the bank, Monsef Mohammed Ali, all processing will be done in Egypt with the operation being connected on-line to the Visa centre in London.
The bank also plans to introduce more automatic teller machines (ATMs), of which there are currently 18 in Cairo and Alexandria, for customers wishing to take out or deposit cash after hours. New machines will then be introduced into other countries throughout the Middle East. These are improvements accompanied by one of the bank's largest advertising campaigns to date, involving television, print and poster advertising as well as the recent launch of a Misr Bank carrier bag for customers.
On a national scale, these developments occur at a time of considerable change in the financial climate. The government is introducing several new laws to bring banking practices up to date, forming part of its major goal of privatisation and economic restructuring.
Perhaps the most important of these is a bill aimed at regulating bank cheques. At present Egypt's economy is cash-based, since suspicion of cheques makes shops reluctant to accept them. New regulations set out rules which will enable cheques to become an acceptable and reliable instruments of payment, and allow a...