The government is in the final stages of a plan aimed at increasing the financial inclusion of pensioners by giving them Meeza cards that enable them to make electronic payments.
Two years ago, the National Organisation for Social Insurance (NOSI) began implementing its financial-inclusion programme that allows 6.5 million pensioners and other beneficiaries to use a single card for all financial transactions instead of one that only allowed them to make cash withdrawals.
NOSI Chairman Gamal Awad said that 5.5 million clients are already using the new cards and that one million more need to swap their old cards for the new ones.
He said that more than 1,700 spots are available across the country where pensioners and other beneficiaries can collect a free Meeza card instead of the old blue cards that will soon expire.
There are nearly 500 insurance offices where well-trained staff can help clients to receive the new cards, he said. The NOSI also has an agreement with the Agricultural Bank of Egypt (ABE) so that pensioners can receive such services at the bank’s 1,200 branches in cities, towns, and villages across Egypt.
Executive Director of Banking Operations and Electronic Payments at ABE Atef Saber said that any pensioner may go to his or her nearest branch and receive a free Meeza card.
If a pensioner is ill and unable to visit an insurance office, any family member can go to the nearest office and ask for a home visit, Awad said. A NOSI staff member would then visit the pensioner at home and deliver the new card at no extra charge, he added.
Besides the new cards, pensioners can also now have their pensions transferred to any current account by having their bank notify the NOSI. Beneficiaries can also transfer their benefits to an electronic wallet with their mobile phone provider by filling out a form indicating that the pension will be transferred to that account.
Beneficiaries can call the 19680 hotline if they have inquiries about switching from the old pension cards to new Meeza cards.
NOSI disburses some LE22 billion every month to 10.7 million pensioners in Egypt, 6.5 million of whom use the old blue cards.
Awad said there would not be any disruption in pension disbursements even if the old blue card expires, as they can be reactivated for payments. This meant there was no need for pensioners to rush to sometimes overcrowded service branches, he said.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 2 June, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.