Egypt state banks setting up $85 million fintech innovation fund

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CAIRO, March 20 (Reuters) - Egypt's three biggest state-owned banks are setting up an $85 million financial technology fund that aims to accelerate innovation in the sector, venture capital firm Global Ventures, a partner in the fund, said on Sunday.

Legislative and regulatory changes in Egypt over the last two years have paved the way for a surge in fintech investments and a change in the way the country's largely unbanked citizens do business, industry players say.

Banque Misr will act as an anchor investor in the programme, with National Bank of Egypt (NBEGPT.UL) and Banque du Caire (BQDC.CA) as strategic investors, said the statement by Global Ventures, which focuses on the Middle East and Africa.

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eFinance Investment Group, a state-controlled payments firm, and Egyptian Banks Co, a payments operator led by the central bank, will also participate. The fund, called Nclude by Global Ventures, hopes to attract additional participation from regional and international investors, it added.

The statement quoted Egyptian central bank governor Tarek Amer as saying the fund's establishment was "a crucial step to transform Egypt into a regional centre for the fintech industry in the Arab World and Africa."

The fund has already made preliminary investments in four companies, it said.

These are Khazna, a financial app that provides products to underserved consumers; Lucky, which offers instalments, cashback rewards and credit to consumers; Mozare3, which provides small farmers with input financing, markets and technical support; and Paymob, a digital payment provider.

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Reporting by Patrick Werr; Editing by David Holmes

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