Egypt’s attention to its digital infrastructure in recent years has helped it prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic, an event that has accelerated the digital shift the country has been working toward.

In an announcement this week that it had raised $3.5 million to help fund its expansion goals, Cairo-based PF Paymob acknowledged the demand that COVID has placed on the country’s digital payment infrastructure.

“In a world where consumers are currently adopting digital products in all aspects of their lives, now is the time to invest in Paymob products to empower the digital economy. These unprecedented times have proven the need for a robust digital payments infrastructure to serve the rising demand from all business types and sizes during the pandemic which resulted in a drastic increase of 450% increase in merchant onboarding rate since the beginning of Covid-19,” the company’s co-founder and CEO, Islam Shawky, said.

In recent years, the Egyptian government has been working to push the country as a whole in a more digital direction.

In an interview this week with Daily News Egypt, Wael Abdoush, Country General Manager at IBM Egypt, said that the Egyptian government has made upgrading the country’s digital infrastructure, including increasing internet speeds, a priority over the past two years, which has made the country’s response to the pandemic better than it could have been.

“This (upgrade) project took place between 2019 and 2020, ending just before the pandemic, and this increased the speed and capacity of the country’s internet infrastructure more than five times,” he said.

“This was crucial for Egypt to survive the pandemic due to the higher demand on the internet infrastructure.”

Payments are just one segment of the digital transformation, but one that the government has been eager to support. The Central Bank of Egypt has promoted digital payments as a means of financial inclusion over the past few years, issuing QR code standards and introducing new regulations to govern payment facilitators, for example.

Most recently, the country responded to concerns about spreading the coronavirus with new guidance intended to reduce the cost and simplifying the process of accepting digital payments. It increased limits for mobile and contactless transactions and streamlined KYC procedures to enable both new and existing customers to open accounts.