Fintech startups have sprung up in 12 Arab countries, yet 3 in 4 startups are based in the UAE, Lebanon,Jordan or Egypt. The UAE is the most dynamic hub with a 4-year CAGR of almost 60%, and payments are the most popular sector, accounting for half of all MENA-based fintech startups.
The rise of fintech in MENA is driven by four opportunities: 86% of adults don’t have a bank account, and SME lending stands at half of the global average; at the same time, the volume of ecommerce is set to quadruple over five years, and 1 in 2 bank customers is interested in new digital services.MENA’s fintech startups provide a wide range of services to private, corporate and governmental
partners. The most mature sector, payments, includes startups offering bill payment, mobile and online payment solutions as well as wallets. Payment service providers (PSP) have sprung up as well,integrating a variety of services into a platform.
Let’s take a look at the five most disruptive fintech startups from the Middle East region.
Moneyfellows is digital credit lending platform that is fully driven by the social network of its users. The money circle idea, known as gam`iyya in Egypt and common in over 90 countries, allows people to take out a loan without relying on a bank. It enables users to build a credit score based on their performance in their money
With Zoomaal, people and initiatives have a platform to pitch their ideas to a wide audience that includes the Arab diaspora.To date, the platform has enabled the transfer of $2 millions into over 140 projects ranging from a music album, a documentary, to an innovative hardware product and even a coworking space. In October 2016, the team launched Givingloop.org, a platform enabling non-profits and social initiatives to raise monthly donations from the community.
Now Money is the first mobile banking app in the GCC countries. With 80% of the UAE population earning less than $1,400 per month, bank accounts are out of reach for over 6 million workers. The startup offers employers a bank account for every employee. Employees can use the built-in mobile remittance function to send money home. NOW’s cofounder won the first place at the 2016 Women in STEM Conference pitching contest.
Wally is a free personal finance app available for Android and iOS that provides you spending tracking and savings goals to help take control of your financial life.The company was started in 2013 and has a small team of employees based in various locations around the world. Wally’s founder is Saeid Hejazi, a graduate of York University (Toronto) who, at the time of publishing, ran a holdings company based in Dubai as well as Wally.
Dunnly is a debt collection and receivable management application built ground up with Markov model that leverages artificial intelligence and triggers a series of collection events based on user inputs, predicts probabilities with AI, centralizes data and communications and intervenes human effort upon demand.
Financial technology increasingly interacts with various technologies and solutions developed by other companies – established ones and startups alike.
The lines are sometimes blurred – however,the surrounding sectors tend not to involve financial institutions (and don’t replace them either). And while it is not clear how these trends will ultimately interact, it is noteworthy that they started to reach MENA.