The GCC stands apart from other regional economies with a vivacious business environment that lends easy access to markets, provides regulatory support, and embraces a streamlined gateway to financial access and expertise.
With Fintech being such a novelty in the Gulf region, only coming into existence in 2017, it needs such financial and regulatory infrastructure to incubate and generate successful ideas, quickly, and in line with international standards.
And it has.
State of startups and Fintech
Estimated to lure $2bn in venture capital (VC) funding with over 450 companies vying for it in 2020, Fintech investment in the MENA still represents only about 1% of the total global VC investment in the sector, according to a research report by the Milken Institute.
The UAE houses 46% of fintech startups in the region. FinTech investment in the country is growing at 64%, more than twice the global rate of 26%.
The majority (Over 80%) of MENA Fintech firms choose to deliver solutions in payments, transfers and remittances.
Let’s look at some notable ones out there.
Beehive focuses on making a low-cost line of credit available to SMEs via a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform, according to Atie El Mouallem. Investors vie for an attractive average rate of return of 10%. Beehive claims it can cut business costs by 30% and speed up financing. Beehive has raised over $10 million in funding and facilitated over $50 million worth of loans since launch.
Founded in 2015, Democrance is a micro-insurance provider that aims at making insurance accessible to “those who need it most but can afford it least.”
Democrance overcomes the challenges of premium collection, customer service, claims administration and more with a platform constantly evolving to support different personal and commercial insurance products of varying underwriting complexity.
As of today, it is present in eleven countries across the MENA, South-East Asia and Latin America regions and garnered $800,000 in seed funding.
Bridg is a smartphone payment platform that utilises innovative communication technology to make payments simpler and more secure.
The app eliminates the need for POS mechanisms of payment that can be inefficient, insecure and cost-ineffective. It enables payment between any two smartphones via low-energy bluetooth technology, through a smooth process.
Bridg has the ability to make payments in flight mode, without network availability!
Total funding amounts to $165,000.
PayBy is accelerating digital transformation of the retail sector with its suite of point-of-sale (POS) solutions using a QR code payment system that can be used at hypermarkets, taxis, min-markets, eateries, and malls. Introduced in 2020, the PayBy POS management system can be easily integrated into existing payment infrastructure with minimal downtime. There are no monthly fees or set up charges and PayBy is able to leverage an artificial intelligence (AI)-enhanced fraud management solution to detect suspicious or unauthorized activities. No Data on funding is available.
In 2015, Saudi entrepreneur Abdulaziz Al Jouf sketched the concept of an affordable payment gateway on a Starbucks napkin for Saudi Aramco investors. His objective was to assist merchants in the MENA region to obtain a secure online payments solution.
Paytabs became the first home grown company to provide seamless B2B ecommerce solutions to SMEs. PayTabs built and exported a full stack of game changing mobile applications for hospitality, governmental, education, airline, travel, transport, and biller solutions, to interlink the multi-billion-dollar enterprise market chain in the MENA region.
Paytabs has received $20 million in funding.
Millions of dollars are lost annually in the real estate market due to. Ajar aims to reduce inefficient practices and lengthy transactions that translate into losses with technology that enables efficient property management and data-driven decision making. Ajar claims to be a leader in property management and rent collection in the Middle East. It allows virtual assistants to do repetitive tasks and owners to focus on maximizing profitability on their properties.
Ajar also gives renters the ability to rent online in less than 60 seconds.
In 2019, Ajar Online launched its very own property listings platform with over 1,200 properties. Another important Ajar Online feature was the ability to track maintenance requests through a unified dashboard operated by the property manager or landlord. Ajar has received $7.5 million in funding.