Lean Technologies ("Lean"), a Riyadh-based FinTech platform that builds developer-friendly APIs, has successfully raised $3.5M in their Seed funding round. The round was led by RAED Ventures, with participation from Shorooq Partners, Outliers VC, Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital, Global Ventures, and sophisticated angel investors.
• Lean provides FinTechs with access to customer financial data and payment initiation capabilities. Lean achieves this by directly integrating with Financial Institutions and providing them with a state-of-the-art API integration layer to complement their existing infrastructure.
• Lean is in the process of integrating and going live with several banks in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and will soon be expanding to the UAE, Kuwait, and Egypt. The company aims to be operational in most countries in the Middle East by 2021.
• The funds will be used towards hiring the best talent globally to provide a secure, reliable, and consistent way to access data.
Following the announcement, Co-Founder and CEO Hisham Al-Falih told MAGNiTT, "We are steadfast in our belief that B2B infrastructure enablers, such as Lean, are integral to the success and growth of any successful FinTech ecosystem. To that end, we aim to provide a solution that enables customers to benefit from cutting edge FinTech products without compromising on their privacy or security."
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Discover more about Lean's funding round below:
Lean, a Riyadh-based financial technology platform, announced that it has closed a seed round of $3.5M from leading venture capital funds and sophisticated angel investors. The round was led by RAED Ventures with participation from Shorooq Partners, Outliers VC, Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital, and Global Ventures. The company also received investments from notable MENA and US-based angel investors including Samih Toukan (Co-Founder of Souq.com and Maktoob.com) and Jake Seid (Former Partner and Managing Director at Lightspeed Ventures), among others.
Lean, which was co-founded by Hisham Al-Falih, Aditya Sarkar, and Ashu Gupta in 2019, is a B2B platform that builds developer-friendly APIs to provide FinTechs with access to customer financial data and payment initiation capabilities. Lean achieves this by directly integrating with Financial Institutions and providing them with a state-of-the-art API integration layer to complement their existing infrastructure. The company’s technology provides Financial Institutions with full transparency, oversight, and control over the data being shared by their customers, while also achieving full Open Banking compliance. As a result, FinTechs can integrate with a multitude of Financial Institutions in the region through a single platform - the Lean Universal API.
The proceeds from the funding round will be used towards hiring the best talent globally to provide a secure, reliable, and consistent way to access data. Following the announcement, Co-Founder and CEO Hisham Al-Falih shared with MAGNiTT, "We were humbled by the level interest we received from investors and are lucky to have found partners who have a great deal of experience in helping their startups succeed."
Al-Falih continued, "At Lean, we go to great lengths to ensure that customers are well informed about their rights and privileges, as they ultimately are the beneficial owners of their own data and must make informed decisions on how to utilize it to their best advantage. Furthermore, we have taken each and every precaution to ensure that customer data is secure, private, and only shared with third parties explicitly authorized by the customer."
They are in the process of integrating and going live with several banks in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and will soon be expanding to the UAE, Kuwait, and Egypt. The company aims to be operational in most countries in the Middle East by 2021, which goes hand-in-hand with its mission of enabling the next generation of FinTech innovation in the region.
Lean's mission is to enable the development of a well-functioning FinTech ecosystem that can add value to all its key stakeholders, namely:
1. Customers will gain more access and control over their financial data, which in turn would provide them with a variety of new financial applications and services while maintaining their existing banking relationships.
2. FinTechs will gain universal access to their customers’ financial data, which is needed to provide innovative financial products and services.
3. Banks will make new technologies available to their customers while gaining full transparency over the types of data being accessed by third parties.
4. Regulators will maintain full oversight and control of the entire ecosystem’s operations, ensuring customer protection, data privacy, and ecosystem stability.
As co-founders of Lean, Hisham Al-Falih, Aditya Sarkar, and Ashu Gupta are determined to support the creation of an exciting and secure FinTech ecosystem for the Middle East.
Al-Falih commented, “As FinTech adoption has grown in the Middle East so have the needs of financial institutions who must now manage unprecedented customer connections across a multitude of FinTech apps. Lean gives institutions an open finance platform that includes everything they need to manage the data connectivity customers demand.
"Thus far, we’ve faced great optimism and support from the Financial Institutions we’ve interacted with, who view Lean as an essential element to their digitization strategies. We hope to continuously expand our coverage over the coming months to ensure that customers of all banks can securely share their data with FinTechs."
He added, “Lean is a pioneer of financial data aggregation in the region, and much of our early work will involve educating key stakeholders about the benefits of an inclusive and accessible financial ecosystem.”
Lean shared with MAGNiTT what these benefits are, "Customer financial data, such as transaction history and real-time balance, can be greatly insightful. FinTechs could utilize customer data to provide cutting edge products including real-time budgeting advice, consolidated financial reports, alternative access to credit, and financial advisory. Leveraged correctly with the right intentions, access to customer financial data promotes financial welfare.
"However, while common sense would suggest that customer data is the customer’s property, reality dictates otherwise. Customers in most MENA countries today are unable to share their data with third parties, which has created an insurmountable barrier to entry for FinTechs. Lean is on a mission to remedy this structural data imparity by providing the customer with more control over their financial data -- whether or not they decide to provide access to third parties is ultimately their decision."
Omar A. Almajdouie, Founding Partner at Raed Ventures adds, “Financial inclusion is a great mission that needs the right infrastructure to thrive. Hisham, Aditya, and Ashu built Lean Technologies to ensure that FinTech innovators have a seamless platform to build the greatest products for their communities in the Middle East. The founders are determined and definitely capable to achieve this mission.”
Mahmoud Adi, Founding Partner at Shorooq Partners commented, “Lean is the missing piece for the Middle East FinTech ecosystem. The company will be the enabler of FinTech innovation in the region. This will accelerate growth in the FinTech ecosystem and create seamless consumer experiences so that we can all benefit from simpler financial lives. With data accessibility becoming increasingly pivotal in the space, we are truly excited about Lean's journey ahead.”
Mohammed Almeshekah, Founding Partner of Outliers, concluded, “We are very proud to be backing Hisham, Aditya, and Ashu, the founding team of Lean, as they build the digital infrastructure of the FinTech eco-system in MENA. Lean is strongly positioned to be the conduit of financial data and connectivity with a strong technical foundation built on trust and data security.”
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Despite the current crisis, H1 2020 has seen $659M invested in MENA-based startups, which is already 95% of total funding full-year 2019. Discover more data, including country and industry trends by purchasing our H1 2020 MENA Venture Investment Report.