Egypt has seen rapid growth in the use of bank cards and contactless payments over the past decade. A key driver of this has been the national Meeza card system, which enables interoperability between cards issued by different Egyptian banks.
Major banks in Egypt are now issuing Meeza-enabled debit and credit cards with contactless functionality to their customers.
The Meeza Card System
Meeza, which means “advantage” in Arabic, is Egypt’s national payment scheme that was launched in 2002. It is run by the Egyptian Banks Company, which is owned by the Central Bank of Egypt and major public and private sector banks.
Meeza enables cardholders to use their debit and credit cards at any merchant or ATM that accepts Meeza cards, regardless of which bank issued their card.
The Meeza system has helped drive broader acceptance of card payments across Egypt. Today, the Meeza logo is displayed on ATMs and at retail point-of-sale terminals across the country. All ATMs and a majority of merchants now accept Meeza cards.
Growth in Debit and Credit Card Issuance
Major Egyptian banks have been aggressively issuing Meeza debit and credit cards over the past decade, leading to rapid growth in card payment usage. Some of the leading banks issuing Meeza-enabled cards include:
- National Bank of Egypt (NBE): As the largest bank in Egypt, NBE has issued millions of Meeza debit cards and is a leader in credit card issuance.
- Banque Misr: This major public sector bank has a large cardholder base, including over 5 million Meeza debit cards.
- Alex Bank: This is one of the leading private sector banks issuing debit and credit cards.
- Banque du Caire: One of Egypt’s primary banks, Banque du Caire offers credit cards and debit cards on the Meeza system.
- Commercial International Bank (CIB): CIB is a leading private sector bank providing credit, debit, and prepaid Meeza cards.
The Rise of Contactless Cards
In recent years, Egyptian banks have migrated toward issuing contactless payment cards on the Meeza system. Contactless cards allow for tap-and-go payments at merchants, with transactions processed rapidly.
Major banks like NBE, Banque Misr, Alex Bank, and CIB now issue contactless versions of their Meeza debit and credit card products. These contactless cards have an embedded near-field communication (NFC) chip that enables tap transactions at merchants with contactless-enabled point-of-sale terminals.
Contactless payments offer greater speed and convenience for consumers. They are also ideal for low-value transactions, eliminating the need to enter a PIN while maintaining security.
The Central Bank of Egypt and banks are encouraging merchants across the country to upgrade their POS systems to accept contactless payments. Large supermarket chains, restaurants, cafes, and other retailers in Egypt are rapidly adopting contactless POS systems.
Benefits of Expanding Bank Card Usage
The expansion of bank-issued card payments and contactless technology brings many benefits for Egypt’s economy and consumers, including:
- Increased consumer convenience and payment options
- Faster in-person checkout times using tap-and-go contactless cards
- Reduced reliance on cash, enabling more digital payments
- Enhanced security compared to carrying cash
- Reduced black market transactions and money laundering with more payments going through the banking system
- Stimulus for international e-commerce as consumers have cards that work online
- Opportunity for banks to provide loyalty programs and cashback rewards
The Meeza card network and the rapid issuance of debit, credit, and contactless cards by major Egyptian banks promises to transform the payments landscape.
In the coming years, Egypt is expected to become a nearly cashless society as adoption of bank card payments continues to grow.