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Digital Financial Inclusion for Rural Areas: Egypt

Egypt Post expands financial inclusion for underserved populations (2004–present)

May 20, 2024
Author: Molly Hickey, Bryony Steyn

With chronically low financial inclusionparticularly for rural areas, low-income families, women, and youththe national post office in Egypt (Egypt Post) is using its nationwide network and the trust held by Egyptians to support access to financial services and financial literacy.

In 2004, Egypt Post launched prepaid electronic payment cards (similar to debit cards), which have been fundamental in addressing the financial exclusion of vulnerable groups. Continuous updates to the cards and their rollout, including a partnership with the Ministry of Social Solidarity to deliver social assistance through prepaid electronic payment cards, have enabled Egypt Post to continue to expand its efforts to drive digital financial inclusion.

In 2011 (earliest available data), just 10 percent of Egyptian citizens aged 15+ held a bank account.  Women (seven percent of whom held a bank account), youth (eight percent of people aged 15–35 held a bank account), and lower income groups (five percent of the poorest 40 percent held a bank account) were acutely excluded from the formal financial sector and thus were more likely to suffer from compound and overlapping inequalities, including deposit protection, and the ability to save, borrow, and access insurance.1 

The Egypt Post has a unique advantage in supporting underserved communities due to its expansive rural network. They aim to “act as main points of entry in rural areas, for cash-in and cash-out transactions, personal identification and financial education.”2 In 2004, Egypt Post introduced pre-paid electronic payment cards to their customers, building upon the savings accounts they developed in 1990, to encourage digital financial inclusion. These electronic payment cards have been monumental in addressing the financial exclusion of vulnerable groups.


The electronic payment cards are pre-paid, meaning that money has to be put on the cards before they can be used, and this can be done at any Egypt Post office (of which there are 4,600 across the country, in both rural and urban areas).3 The cards can then be used at any Egypt Post office or Egypt Post-affiliated ATM to withdraw funds as needed. The cards offer consumer protection, which would be unavailable to cash held by the individual, and enable individuals to access additional financial services, such as insurance, savings, and credit.4 Essentially, the cards provide incentives to encourage individuals to put their savings in the post office, instead of holding savings in cash, while Egypt Post’s wide network provides easily accessible points to deposit and withdraw cash. 

To increase financial literacy, particularly amongst rural communities, Egypt Post has complemented the roll-out of the electronic payment cards with financial literacy and education campaigns,5 and with the United Nations Development Programme’s support, 36,000 employees have been trained in financial inclusion, governance, digital transformation, and anti-money laundering.6 

The capacity of electronic payment cards to encourage financial inclusion has been boosted by the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MoSS) disbursing social assistance through Egypt Post. MOSS provides Egypt Post with beneficiaries’ national ID number, name, gender, date of birth, address, and mobile phone number.  Egypt Post then creates a unique virtual postal account number for all beneficiaries and issues personalized prepaid cards.  Every month, MOSS will instruct Egypt Post with the amount to pay each beneficiary, and Egypt Post credits the cards accordingly. The World Bank and e-Finance officials have confirmed that Egypt Post has adequate reach that allows the government to reach all beneficiaries.7 


There is no information on the cost of this policy, but it likely supported itself through increasing transactions at Egypt’s National Post Office.


By 2017 (latest available data), 33 percent of Egyptian citizens over the age of 15 held a bank account (compared to just 10 percent in 2011). Women, youth, and low-income families remain disadvantaged in access to financial services, but their levels of financial inclusion have also increased. By 2017, 27 percent of women aged 15 and over, 20 percent of youth aged 15 to 34, and 20 percent of the poorest 40 percent of the population aged 15 and over held a bank account.8 

The increase in financial inclusion would have been due to multiple overlapping efforts within Egypt, including the sizeable increase in account ownership driven by Egypt Post. Indeed, of the 65 million adults who were eligible to hold a bank account in 2022, in total 42 million adults held an account25 million of whom held an account with Egypt Post. Of the 18 million accounts held by women, five million were with Egypt Post.9 

During COVID-19, the electronic payment cards were fundamental to increase social protection (both horizontally and vertically), while containing the spread of COVID-19.  The digital nature of the cards enabled social distancing, while Egypt Post extended their opening hours to better serve communities and prevent crowding at their offices.10 

Additional Information

Building on the success of the electronic payment cards, Egypt Post launched the Yalla Card and Super App in February 2022. The Yalla Card is an electronic payment card linked to the Super App, which enables users to send money to individuals and merchants, as well as to pay bills for utilities, school fees, and government services. It also serves as a complete digital solution for businesses, enabling them to complete electronic invoicing, expense management, staff salary payments, supplier payouts, and receive e-commerce payments.11 In the first eight months that the card and app were operational, they attracted more than one million users.12

Aerial view of Cairo, Egypt. ©Adobe Stock/John Wreford