Middle East: Going Digital

New technologies can help treasurers solve challenges they face in accurately forecasting their future cash and liquidity needs.

“Corporate treasury in the Middle East has never been more challenging and engaging, says Mohamed Farag, chief digital officer and head of Global Transaction Services at CIB Egypt, “with real-time visibility of global cash balances, solutions around trapped cash in certain countries and the need to do more with less.”

Cash forecasting is more important than ever for a company’s financial success, and the pressure to provide insightful and proactive cash reporting and forecasting is only likely to grow, says Farag. “Cash-management professionals understand their expanding role and feel pressured to deliver on their increased responsibilities in the face of growing complexity,” he says.

A 2015 report on Next Generation Needs for Cash Management, sponsored by software provider SAP, revealed that 62% of finance and treasury leaders from large global companies believe treasury needs to increase its contribution to high-value activities, and 82% said that management outside of treasury needed a better understanding of a company’s cash positioning and forecasts.

The key to unlocking the information that treasurers need in order to better manage their cash, says Farag, is digitization, which can help companies in the Middle East realize the strategic value of treasury. “The intelligent treasury will not only boost revenues,” he explains, “but also save companies millions in process, compliance and regulatory costs. Data has not only become the lifeblood of the company, but also its biggest challenge, and digital transformation is a leap all businesses need to make to maintain excellence in treasury.”

Treasurers are also expanding their role in many organizations, which is creating new challenges as well as opportunities. “The pace of technological change demands the treasurer role to be constantly evolving and pushing the boundaries to both unlock opportunities and drive business growth,” says Farag. With the current market conditions and growing role of treasury in business operations, he says corporate treasuries are constantly looking for increases in efficiency. As a result, the treasury technology footprint is increasing in organizations. “With the evolution of new technologies like blockchain and the rise of fintech applications, corporate treasuries have many choices to simplify and automate processes.”

In the past five years, CIB has undertaken many digital improvements, starting with the migration of its core banking system, the construction of a new data center, the development of a solid communications network, a smart-ATM network and the revamping of Internet-banking channels.

Farag says digital technologies enhance bank connectivity, from online payment solutions to mobile functionality. Additionally, digital draws on Big Data and advanced analytics to extend and refine decision-making, including sales, product design, pricing and underwriting. Furthermore, digital technologies enable straight-through processing—automating and digitizing a number of repetitive, low-value and low-risk processes, resulting in paperless and more efficient work flows. “Finally,” Farag states, “digitization is a means of fostering innovation across products and business models.”

According to the World Bank, Egypt has the potential to bring 44 million adults into the formal financial sector, and digital technologies will be key to enabling this outcome. Financial inclusion is a priority for CIB, which has completely overhauled its approach to consumer and corporate client solutions to offer customers better access to payment services.

Limited-scale banking services provided by agents on behalf of a bank (agency banking) will also play an important role in the coming years for financial inclusion, says Farag. “Agents will provide individuals and small businesses with the finance and payment services they need to stimulate local development and economic growth.”


Best Overall Bank for Cash Management Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
Best Bank for Liquidity Management National Bank of Kuwai
Best Bank for Payments and Collections CIB
Best Provider of Short-Term Investments/Money Market Funds Banque Misr