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African fintech firms 'complement' the banking sector, don't disrupt it: Exec at Egypt’s largest private bank

  • Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, chairman of Commercial International Bank (CIB), said Tuesday that the lender was "ready" for a growing wave of fintech firms
  • Africa has been a key region for fintechs looking to engage citizens who haven't previously had access to the financial services

Financial technology firms in Africa are "complementing" the banking sector rather than disrupting it, an executive at Egypt's biggest private-sector bank has said.

Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, chairman of Commercial International Bank (CIB), said Tuesday that the lender was "ready" for a growing wave of fintechs that are shaking up the financial services with new technologies.

"We are ready in terms of technology. We look at fintechs and mobile operators and payment companies as partners, we collaborate together," he told CNBC on Tuesday.

But Al-Arab went a step further to say that he thought fintech firms were not disruptive to the financial services.

"Fintechs in Africa generally are not disrupting the existing model but, in fact, they are complementing the existing model."

Africa has been a key region for fintechs looking to engage citizens who haven't previously had access to the financial services. The World Bank estimates that 2 billion adults worldwide fall into the category of "underbanked" or "unbanked", terms that refer to people with restricted access to formal financial services.

Egypt has been making its own efforts toward increasing financial inclusion, CIB's Al-Arab said, adding that the country's central bank has established its own financial inclusion unit to address the issue.