New Capital. New Cash
The Central Bank of Egypt has commissioned Giesecke+Devrient with designing and building an integrated plant for the production and processing of banknotes — including cutting-edge IT and security infrastructure, as well as the setup of further regional centers. The goal: to modernize Egypt’s cash cycle from the ground up over the next two years.
Egypt and cash: the story behind this duo will be rewritten in the coming years in a country whose capital houses an estimated 28 million inhabitants and where everything flows: The traffic, the people, the money. But when everything flows, then sometimes things get jammed and some hurdles have to be cleared. “Our processes in the cash cycle are just too manual,“ says Tarek Elkholy*, former Sub Governor On-Site Banking Supervision Sector & Chief Risk Officer of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). “We will ease the processing in the near future.“
Indeed, the Egyptian cash cycle is currently being modernized from the ground up. “In 2020 the CBE will be running a new printing plant and a new cash center,“ says Reinhard Hofer, Global Program Manager Managed Services, Currency Management Solutions of Giesecke+Devrient Currency Technology GmbH. Additionally, the already existing four cash centers in the country will be modernized. So, in two years there will be a new print house, a completely new automated cash center, and four that will be newly equipped.
Everything goes? Like clockwork? “Sure,“ Hofer says, “we're on time, still sleeping well,“ adding that he occasionally dreams about the project. Which may be due to the fact that he is the general project manager on the German side for one of the largest projects in the company’s 166-year history.
A Great Step towards a Modern Cash Cycle
The new printing plant and the new cash center are located in the middle of the new capital district known as “Capital Cairo“, 45 kilometers southeast of Cairo. The ambitious urban development project initiated by President Abd al-Fattah el-Sisi will cover a total area of 700 square kilometers and offer space and work for 5 million inhabitants. And a new printing plant with a cash center.
After completion, the plant will do most of the country’s banknote printing and processing, thereby supporting Egypt in its smart automation of the cash cycle and further enhancing banknote security. “Already, our existing security features can be considered some of the safest in the Middle East, but we always have to be a few steps ahead in upgrading our designs and adding new security features,“ says Elkholy. “With the G+D-turnkey project, we finally will be ready to fulfill our clean note policy, which we can implement when the integrated plant for the production and processing of bank notes is up and running.“
We need more and secure automation in the Egyptian cash cycle, because, to this day, cash processing is mostly manual.«
The CBE’s current printing plant opened for production in 1967. Its chosen location is near the Giza Pyramids; they called it “the fourth pyramid“ then. Now they are building a fifth. “We need more and secure automation in the Egyptian cash cycle, because, to this day, cash processing is mostly manual,“ says Amany Shams Eldin, Sub-Governor Banking Operations at the CBE. Automation will as well increase the quality of banknotes, which is currently, according to Shams Eldin, simply not acceptable, especially when it comes to smaller denominations. “They hardly ever see the inside of a bank; they are passed on from hand to hand and their appearance reflects this.“ The commitment of Giesecke+Devrient in Egypt has grown, having been proven and tested over the decades. The company built the current printing plant near Giza in the mid-1960s and has supplied machines, such as the BPS 200. “We have confidence in G+D, we trust them and their experience,“ says Khaled Farouk, CBE’s Sub-Governor Banknote Printing House. “We work hand-in-hand, in a lean and smart collaboration, and we learn each and every day.“
Cash, We Can!
There's that mindset of “we can do it,“ that's inherent in the project – a “we want it“ paired with a “we want to do it together.“ True, two years is not much time to lay the foundations for the far-reaching, new automation of the Egyptian cash cycle. “But we will manage it and we will manage it efficiently,“ says Hofer, “due to the fact that we are able to tailor and coordinate the individual components of the print plant and the cash center precisely to each other.“
Speaking of coordination: regarding the rather rhetorical question of why the cash center and printing plant are based in “Capital Cairo“, Sub-Governor Amany Shams Eldin replies: “Cairo will get a new center. Cairo will get new cash. So, we are moving the city to the cash.“
We can rely on Giesecke+Devrient's consultations and their advice, even if their advice may not correspond to their business interests.«
“We are a task force and I am just a part of it. I am not an engineer. I am an analyst, an economist, a financial specialist. But in this project we rely on a huge number of experts from different disciplines in order to help, to support, to advise. That’s why we recommended Giesecke+Devrient during the tender. We can rely on their consultations and their advice, even if their advice may not correspond to their business interests. They are honest, well-prepared, fair. And we have experienced more than once that Giesecke+Devrient can adapt a pre-set schedule so that it is in line with our changing requirements. It is ‘all for the overall project,’ which definitely is based on a very ‘German’ understanding of cooperation: being reliable, committed, trustworthy.”
The cooperation between G+D and our CBE team is kind of a starting point for a new era in our cash cycle.«
“The current state of the cash cycle has to be improved. We are more or less operating it manually! As one can imagine, that makes it very dicult to make any predictions for the future. Sure, we can analyze how many banknotes we process on a daily basis, but there is no registration, no follow up, we don’t have a backup for it. And it demands a vast number of human resources, which results in a lack of control. Add to this the intolerable quality of the notes in the market, especially when it comes to smaller denominations. So, the cooperation between G+D and our extremely efficient, highly motivated CBE team is kind of a starting point for a new era in our cash cycle.”
We are convinced that we will benefit from G+Ds experience in optimizing processes and modernizing systems.«
“We’ve known G+D since the 1960s and we have confidence in what they do; they are a pioneer in ‘all things cash’ and we are convinced that we will benefit from their experience in optimizing processes and modernizing systems. And it’s that mix of being equal partners, having practical expertise, and being reliable in all of the aspects involved in the planning of components or turnkey plants that is in full view. Add to this G+D’s solid after-sales service and immediate response even after the installation of machines, and you are exactly meeting our requirements for an integrated strategy, from consultancy to maintenance, training, and technical updates. Not to forget our experienced and professional staff, our knowledge of the market, and its challenges: that’s when a collaboration with a solution-minded company like G+D makes sense.”
I coordinate everything, from construction to consultancy to daily communication with partners, it’s a chance of a lifetime.«
"I supervise, coordinate, and advise all parties involved in the project. Sounds easy, but actually, we have to deal with three authorities: Giesecke+Devrient, the Central Bank of Egypt, and the General Intelligence Service. I coordinate everything, from construction to consultancy to daily communication with partners, and I love it! It’s a chance of a lifetime. With G+D, I experience that spirit of leadership, not only regarding print works but also regarding currency processing as a whole. There are companies that can print and others that can manage the cash processing – but having one company that can handle both is crucial for us. That’s why we expect G+D to not only supply us with cutting-edge infrastructures that meet our very individual demands, but also to provide consulting, to advise us regarding the designs of our facilities.”
*Tarek Elhouly left the CBE at the end of April 2018. We thank him for his contribution and support.