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How Egypt is Protecting its Banking Sector & SMEs in the Face of COVID-19

Loan payments are on hold for six months, and other ways the Central Bank of Egypt is trying to cushion the burden of the virus.

Okay, so this includes a lot of numbers, but here’s what you need to know: the coronavirus is doing more than just sending us all to our rooms to think about what we’ve done. It’s also, inevitably, wreaking havoc on the global economy.

Different countries are doing different (in turn smart, very smart, and not so smart) finance math things to try and cushion the blow to the economy, which - no surprise - hits the average Mohamed first, and hardest.

So here’s what our own Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is doing in order to alleviate the burden of it all from individuals and startups alike.

1. First (and this is the one you care about), the CBE has confirmed a six-month hold on loan and credit card payments. Basically, you can stop paying for six months, and no late charges will be incurred. 

2. It also raised the electronic payments via mobile phones to EGP 30,000 per day and EGP 100,000 per month for individuals. (The new limits for corporations are EGP 40,000 per day and EGP 200,000 per month)

3. In the past week, it has also instructed banks to cancel fees and commissions for six months on bank and ATM withdrawals, e-payments and transactions made on retail point-of-sale machines.

4. In earlier efforts to protect the cash flow of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and mitigate effects on workers, it also last week postponed loan repayment demands for SMEs and suspended penalties for late payments.

5. Last Monday, it also slashed interest rates by 3% in an unscheduled meeting, a move that 3 dozen central banks around the world have done to different degrees, as governments the world over scramble to protect citizens, consumers, and businesses from the inevitable economic impact of the coronavirus. 

Though not directly related to the covid-19 outbreak, the CBE is also continuing its latest debt relief initiative, which will be forgiving a combined debt of EGP 10 billion, benefiting 940,000 borrowers all over Egypt, 200,000 of whom have court cases which will now be dropped.

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