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Middle East's Best Bank Awards

Egypt: Best Domestic Bank 2020

Commercial International Bank

Sometimes candidates for these awards can be so well-matched it is hard to decide between them. On other occasions, a winner just leaps off the page. So it is this year with Commercial International Bank.

The Egyptian lender is impressive across the board. It offers scale, it is strong in both retail and corporate banking and consistently invests in digital.

CIB is a powerhouse in its home market. It reported net income of E£11.8 billion ($748 million) in 2019, an annualized increase of 23%, even while keeping its cost-to-income ratio at an almost ethereally low level of 21.6%, and its return on equity at a remarkably high rate of 29.5%. Loan and deposit growth rose 10% and 7% respectively on an annual basis in 2019.

The bank’s stronghold is its home market, where it employs 6,700 people at its 207 domestic branches. It has a judiciously small foreign presence too, in the shape of two representative offices – one in Dubai and the other in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa – as well as two subsidiaries in Kenya.

CIB’s mission statement is to make banking ‘simple and accessible’, and at the heart of this is its digital strategy. The bank’s permanent digital revolution has seen it constantly improve the level of service it extends to clients.

It reckons its smart wallet is Egypt’s most popular, processing 18% of all mobile payments in 2019, with a total value of E£1.4 billion ($88 million). Over the last year, it has launched a raft of new or upgraded digital services aimed at corporate customers.

That includes Export Direct Collection, a new service available on its CIB Business Online portal, which allows customers to ship documents directly to the bank without needing to visit a branch, and to track each transaction’s entire journey. During the Covid pandemic, that offered a double benefit to business owners wary of, or unable to leave, their homes or offices to physically visit a branch.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2020 and beyond, CIB aims to add new features to its Business Online channel, including a more secure platform for trade and supply-chain finance, cash, treasury and lending services. Another focus will be to streamline the speed at which government payments reach CIB, are processed, and then delivered to the accounts of consumers and corporates. CIB is also upgrading the services it extends to small and medium-sized enterprises, and plans to launch a new platform to serve female entrepreneurs.

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