Egypt’s central bank has approved the issue of licences that will enable merchants to accept contactless payments from their customers through mobile phones.

New legislation and regulatory changes are expected to transform the way unbanked citizens run business in the country.

The central bank did not reveal who would be eligible for the licences as well as the timelines for the roll-out of the new system.

The move is seen as part of the government’s strategy to encourage new investments in the country’s fintech space.

In July last year, Egypt introduced Data Protection Law in a bid to promote online banking in the market.

This law, which is said to partially imitate EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), outlined criteria for businesses to process and store customer data digitally.

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Recently, Egypt gave green light to a new law that enables the central bank to provide banking licences to fintech firms.

The country is also preparing to pass a new legislation to govern non-banking fintech players such as nano-finance, consumer tech and insurtech.

Recent developments in Egypt’s payment space

Earlier this month, Reuters reported Egyptian state-operated payments firm e-finance’s plans to float a minority stake on the Egyptian Exchange in the fourth quarter of this year.

The firm aims to float 177.8 million new shares on the stock exchange. It will also offer 80 million shares that are currently owned by existing shareholders to investors.

In January last year, MoneyGram International collaborated with Suez Canal Bank to facilitate remittances directly into the bank accounts of recipients in Egypt.