5 Fintech startups disrupting the industry across MENA countries

MAGNiTT's 2019 MENA FinTech Venture Investment Report highlighted that the industry took the top spot by the number of fundings deals in both 2018 and 2019. Whilst 2015 saw just 18 Fintech deals take place in the MENA region, since then, there has been a 417% increase, with 2019 seeing 75 deals – the highest on record. 

Similarly, Fintech remained the top industry by the number of deals in H1 2020, accounting for 16% of all investment deals, as referenced in our H1 2020 MENA Venture Investment Report.

Undoubtedly, Fintech is one of the hottest and fastest-growing industries in the region. We are witnessing changes in user behaviour and a move away from traditional payment methods, to an increase in digital transactions and innovative technological advancements. The level of innovation and desire from regional entrepreneurs (encouraged by government initiatives/regulations) to leverage technology and transform economies for the betterment of consumers, has placed the industry at the forefront of the ecosystem.

With the acceleration of digital transformation due to the onset of the current climate, it's simple to understand why Fintech has topped the list again this year and why investor appetite for disruptive and innovative Fintech startups in the region has increased. 

Is it only a matter of time before Cash on Delivery and traditional ways of banking become a thing of the past? Will we see consumers become more comfortable adjusting to Open Banking, Blockchain, and continue to pay for their groceries through online transactions, post-pandemic? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, COVID-19 caused for a much-needed, fundamental shift and placed a spotlight on transformative startups helping to fill gaps and seize opportunities in a region that has previously relied very heavily on cash transactions and familiar habits. Meet some of these startups below.

Discover more than 720 Fintech startups on MAGNiTT

The companies listed are based on MAGNiTT data of the top 5 MENA-based Fintech startups from 2015 - 2020, which have raised the highest amount of disclosed funding, in respective countries. 

1. Wahed (UAE)

Wahed is a robo-advisory service that provides an efficient, reliable, and accessible Shari’ah compliant investment platform to investors

The startup raised a $25M funding round earlier this year, led by Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures (Wa’ed Ventures) and BECO Capital, as well as an $8M Series B round in 2018 and $7M Series A round in 2017.

Wassim Basrawi, Managing Director at Wa’ed Ventures said, "This latest funding round will enable Wahed to make Saudi their regional MENA hub and contribute towards a fast-growing Fintech ecosystem.”

2. PayTabs (Saudi Arabia)

PayTabs aims to revolutionize online payments by providing simple and trusted Payment Processing Solutions for merchants or individuals. The PayTabs product targets SME's primarily with a view to make online card acceptance more easily integrated with lower costs and most importantly minimal fraud. 

PayTabs secured $20M in a Series B investment round, from Saudi Aramco back in 2017. 

3. Ajar (Kuwait)

Ajar provides a cloud service designed for the real estate market, offering quick online rent payment and a free property management platform. They simplify the rent collection process for landlords by providing efficient property management tools to increases the rent collections performance, to know the financial position instantly, and help to make the right decisions. 

Ajar has raised a total of $7.5M in funding, with their latest Pre-Series A round closing in June 2020, from SBX Capital and SEEDS Partners

Shaheen Al Khudhari, Founder & CEO of Ajar said, “During the COVID-19 lockdown, it quickly became very clear to landlords that going digital was the way forward. Rent collection for those who depended on cash and cheque payments completely stopped, affecting the majority in the market. Landlords saw Ajar as an opportunity to not only go digital, but to also gain insights on how the industry was minimizing losses."

4. Liwwa, Inc. (Jordan)

Liwwa, Inc, is a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform in the MENA region. They connect small and medium businesses that need capital with fixed-income investors. Investors earn 10-15% returns while small businesses get access to much-needed financing. 

At the start of the year, the startup raised $6M in a Series B funding round, led by FMO. Other investors included 500 Startups, Chris Larsen, Edgo VCEFG-EV, and Wamda. Existing investors Bank al EtihadDASH Ventures, and Silicon Badia also participated. Prior to this, Liwwa raised a $2M Series A round in 2018, and a $500K Seed round in 2015. 

5. Tribal Credit (Egypt)

Tribal Credit is a corporate charge card specially designed for startups in emerging markets. Using a proprietary AI-driven approval process, they provide small and medium companies with access to payments and complete control over their spending. 

Through a series of Seed rounds, the startup raised $9.1M in funding, from BECO CapitalGlobal VenturesEndure Capital500 StartupsOff The Grid VenturesRising Tide FundTribe CapitalSilicon Valley Bank, and Amr Shady.

“Tribal Credit will bring startups closer to the payment channels and capital they need to grow and scale, giving them access to banking services previously only available to large corporates,” said Amr Shady.

Did we miss anything? Connect with me and share your thoughts!

The Digitainment Industry saw a number of sizable investments over the last 5 years, a total of $235M invested across 98 deals from 2015 to 2019. Discover more trends and insights in our 2019 Digitainment Venture Investment Report