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HSBC Egypt shuts down SME accounts

HSBC Egypt is shutting down a number of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) bank accounts, “following a strategic review of … business customers”.
“I do not want to leave them. They want me to go.” Karine Kamel, social entrepreneur and founder of Consultancy firm Bridge Egypt, was infuriated and disappointed as she received a letter from HSBC Egypt informing her that her corporate account will be closed after 60 days.

Kamel voiced her discontent on Twitter, saying: “Letter received from #HSBC starts by enumerating the amazing services they will provide their corporate clients. They then tell me bye!”

The bank has done the same last month in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), sending out letters and giving businesses a 60-day notice to transfer their accounts to a new business bank or withdraw any outstanding balance. As part of a global strategy, HSBC is reviewing business customers, in order to be able to “provide international expertise and support in line with [its] key strengths as a leading cross-border trade and business bank”, according to the statement. It also refers to the bank’s obligation as a global banking provider.

Entitled “Changes to services provided to HSBC Business Banking customers in Egypt”, the statement reads that HSBC is “sorry to advise that you will no longer qualify for business banking services from HSBC and we will need to close your account with us”.

Part of Kamel’s disappointment mainly emerged from the fact that the letter was sent on June 17th, 2013, and she received it 23 days later on July 10th, decreasing her time to find other options. “It would not have hurt them to send a more personalized letter or call at least,” she told Egypt Business Directory.

Another issue lies in the fact that switching accounts between firms is a very costly matter and a move that a lot of SMEs cannot afford, especially with Egypt’s current unstable political and economic situation.

“Right now I will just go around banks weighing my options and compare what they have to offer,” Kamel conluded.

HSBC UAE told AlArabiya that the shutdowns are part of a streamlining of the bank’s global businesses that began in May 2011.

HSBC was not reachable for commentary.