EGYPTThree Egyptian state-controlled banks are set to launch US$63.5 million (EGP 1 billion) fintech fund to support start-ups in the fintech space and international outfits that want to establish in the Egyptian market, concerned banks have said in a statement.

The fund will be founded on President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s orders by the National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, and Banque du Caire, with a minimum capital of EGP 1 billion (US$63.6m). The fund is open to participation from other financial institutions.

Aside from providing support, the fund will also work on enabling more applications of fintech, which would facilitate the process of providing and delivering financial services.

The trust will direct investments to local fintech start-ups as well as international ones looking to operate in the Egyptian market, according to the CBE.

Over the past few years, Egypt’s government has launched several initiatives to encourage fintech in the country, including the launch of the fintech Egypt platform and the conversion of the historical Central Bank of Egypt building into a hub for supporting fintech, as well as introducing a fintech regulatory sandbox to allow start-ups to test their ideas.

Egypt adopted last year the Banking Act and draft legislation in view of cementing Egypt’s position as one of the MENA region’s fintech centers, while also driving financial inclusion in the wider population, a key driver of investor interest in the fintech industry, Arab Finance reports.

The Act, the media also notes, ended some of the regulatory uncertainties facing the sector, establishing a mechanism for the licensing of e-payments and fintech firms, and for the first time provided a framework for the licensing of digital banks.

The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA), author of the act, is expected to establish new licensing and supervisory powers for nano-finance, crowdfunding, robo-advisory and insurtech firms, and is still being discussed by lawmakers.

Fintech innovation in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, has trailed other emerging market powerhouses such as China, India, Kenya and Indonesia, a situation the industry hopes the new legal environment will change. There are 100 FinTech startups in Egypt.