Financial technology (abbreviated fintech or FinTech) is an emerging industry that uses technology to improve activities in finance. The FinTech sector in the Middle East is growing rapidly with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30%. Since 2017, when only 30 regional FinTechs raised less than $80 million, the Middle East has seen significant growth as a FinTech hub both for investors and tech-savvy innovators. As almost half of the 400 million people in the region are under the age of 25 years, we believe the push for digital-first solutions across sectors like payments, banking, and lending will continue to surge. In this article, we want to get to know the top 5 FinTech companies in the Middle East in 2021.
To rank the fintech startups, we took into account:
Fawry began as an idea in 2007 when technology expert Ashraf Sabry came up with the vision of introducing electronic bill payment in Egypt to beat the pressing need for convenience and easy payments in a country where traffic congestion and complex procedures are daily challenges that face consumers.
Today Fawry’s patented technology fully complies with ISO 27001 and PA DSS standards. It offers authentication, non-repudiation, data confidentiality and integrity, segregation of duties, and network security and physical security at all infrastructure levels.
Their app, myFawry, allows users to pay their bills, recharge their mobiles, reserve bus tickets, and track their spending. In 2020, total downloads surpassed more than 1.6 million. Fawry for Banking and Payment Technology Services was listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange in 2019, with a market value of $1.9 billion as of August 5, 2021. The company, which also offers financial services through multiple channels such as ATMs and retail points. As of June 2021, the app had 3.5 million total downloads and $105 million annualized throughput.
Fawry is funded by five investors. responsAbility Investments AG and Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund are the most recent investors. responsAbility Investments AG has made 28 investments. Their most recent investment was on October 28, 2021, when Investree raised $10.5M.
Al Ansari Exchange is a leading exchange company in the UAE with the largest branch network. It started as an offshoot of a flourishing trading business by the Al Ansari family almost 60 years ago. Al Ansari Exchange was established primarily to meet the foreign exchange and remittance needs of their trading partners and customers at a time when formal banking was yet to be established in the country.
The online remittance provider from Al Ansari Exchange provides payment options through online bank transfers, credit cards, direct debit, and the PayPlus card. The app, Al Ansari Exchange Send Money, executed about 1.8 million transactions worth around $1.5 billion in 2020. As of August 2021, it had recorded over 941,000 downloads with more than 850,000 active users.
According to the website, National Bonds has long been established as the go-to savings and investment company in the UAE. The company provides UAE nationals, UAE residents, and non-residents with an opportunity to build and fortify their savings safety net and invest in lucrative high-returns programs. Minors can also join National Bonds, provided the bonds are purchased by a parent/guardian. Each bond costs AED10, with a minimum purchase option of AED100.
Savers will enter an exciting AED 35 million Rewards Program, with monthly and quarterly prizes such as AED 1 million for eight winners, 16 luxury cars, and much more. National Bonds is also proud to offer the Tejouri program, exclusively for Emiratis, with multiple dedicated rewards every quarter.
Since its inception in 2006, National Bonds has given over AED 650,000,000 in prizes and created more than 192 millionaires.
With the clear vision of creating an entrepreneurial legacy, Mr. Abdullah Saleh Al Mulla, the Secretary of State of Kuwait, started a business trading in electrical appliances in downtown Kuwait City. With his keen business acumen, he was able to forge strong partnerships and utilize opportunities to create a network with reputed international brands. This determination paid off when he acquired the rights for General Electric in Kuwait.
Kuwait’s first remittance app, Al Mulla Exchange, enables customers to transfer money in Kuwait and abroad. The app processed transactions valued at over $1 billion and recorded more than 337,000 downloads through the App Store, Google Play, and Huawei App Gallery. The app is available in seven languages.
Hosam Arab founded the company in late 2019 after he left fashion e-commerce Namshi, a company he led as CEO until a Dubai-based real estate firm acquired it. The launch of Tabby as a buy now, pay later solution was to specifically target economic problems of the MENA and wider GCC region, says Arab.
Tabby is one such service and clearly the most known in the region. Today, it is announcing that it has raised a $50 million Series B, valuing the company at $300 million.
Global Founders Capital and STV led the funding round, with participation from Delivery Hero and CCVA. Existing investors, including Arbor Ventures, Mubadala Investment Capital, Raed Ventures, Global Ventures, MSA Capital, VentureSouq, Outliers VC, JIMCO, and HOF, also participated.
Tabby enables more than 2,000 brands and businesses to offer customers flexible payments at checkout. The app has gathered more than $130 million in funding from investors so far. Tabby raised $50 million in debt financing from California-based Partners for Growth in June 2021. In April 2021, the app launched “tabby Cashback,” which enables shoppers to gain up to 20% cash back when making a purchase from one of Tabby’s partners. Tabby was co-founded by Hosam Arab, who previously co-founded Namshi, and Daniil Barkalov, the previous CEO of Revo Technology.
Like another buy now, pay later firms, Tabby offers short-term credit for online and in-store purchases at zero interest to the consumer. The bulk of its revenue is earned via merchant fees though consumers are charged penalty fees if they miss a payment.
PayTabs started operating in April of 2014. The company was founded by Abdulaziz Aljouf, a Saudi entrepreneur based between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Bahrain.
PayTabs was incorporated in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is headquartered in the Kingdom of Bahrain, with offices in UAE & India as well.
The company was founded with the objective to contribute to the relatively untapped eCommerce potential in the MENA region by offering easy to integrate, online payment-processing solutions.
The PayTabs app provides payment methods to online businesses, with features such as a business manager dashboard to e-invoices. The app facilitates the needs of entrepreneurs who travel or are pressed for time. It processed around $577.8 million worth of transactions in 2020 and was downloaded more than 9,000 times. It has raised $26 million in total funding. The company ranked 9th on Forbes Middle East’s list of “The Middle East’s 50 Most Funded Startups” in 2020.
PayTabs has raised a total of $25.3M in funding over two rounds. Their latest funding was raised on August 21, 2017, from a Series B round.PayTabs is funded by two investors. Saudi Aramco and Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures are the most recent investors.
Did you know any of the mentioned startups? Have you used their services before? Please share your experiences with us. We’d love to know your thoughts!