Financial technology, commonly referred to as Fintech, is one of the biggest sectors in banking today. This emerging industry is pushing the boundaries of finance with innovative products and services that leverage technology to deliver banking services to consumers. Fintech is allowing financial institutions to break free from more traditional back-end services, putting the customer experience before all else.
The MENA region has become a hotspot for fintech, with startups in this sector now operating in at least a dozen countries. According to Bloomberg, the number of fintech businesses in the region will grow nearly fivefold between 2019 and 2022 alone.
As the MENA fintech industry continues its tremendous growth, let’s look at some of the most prominent regional startups in this sector.
Established in 2013, Beehive is a peer-to-peer lending platform for SMEs that are seeking investment. An alternative to traditional financing models, the startup gives these growing businesses an inexpensive way to fund their work. Concurrently, it provides eager investors with more opportunities to achieve sizeable returns on their investments.
SMEs that are looking for funding can apply for financing through the Beehive website. With the startup’s approval, they then receive a listing on the marketplace, where investors can request to fund their business. Multiple investors can bid on a single business and offer their own amount of funding. Once the auction closes, the partnership between the investors and SME begins. Each month, businesses repay a portion of their investment with additional profits, allowing their investors to see returns quickly.
NOW Money is a groundbreaking fintech startup that provides bank accounts to those that otherwise wouldn’t be able to establish ones at more traditional banking institutions. Designed as a payroll and accounts platform, the startup caters to companies and their staff who earn a low income—all with the mission of “empowering the unbanked.”
All NOW Money users receive their own accounts, which they can use free of charge and without need of a minimum balance. Through the startup’s app, they can transfer money using the online marketplace, top up their mobile phones, and monitor their spending. NOW Money also gives its account holders their own debit cards, which they can use to make purchases in person and online.
For businesses, NOW Money not only makes payroll easier, but it also allows them to empower their workers. Companies that rely on these services also see fewer unexplained absences from employees.
Designed for internet businesses, PayTabs gives its users the tools they need to manage all their online payments and streamline business operations. The startup’s platform is capable of integrating with numerous merchant sites, which allows merchants to deposit funds quickly and easily. PayTabs accepts nearly 170 currencies, making it even simpler for online merchants to make their payments.
PayTabs users receive access to a smart dashboard, through which they can view invoices, make online payments, and track recurring expenses. The platform is fully compliant with PCI DSS regulations and boasts its own anti-fraud tools to ensure that users’ accounts remain secure.
Headquartered in Dubai, Sarwa helps people dive into the world of investing and begin building their wealth. Users can start an account with the platform in just a few minutes. Depending on their investment budget and risk tolerance, Sarwa will then build a diverse investment portfolio of index funds, including stocks, bonds, and other assets.
Users can begin investing in their portfolio with either a lump sum or monthly payments. Sarwa automates the entire investment process, so users can rebalance and reinvest their dividends easily. If they want to remove their money at any point, they can do so without incurring any exit fees.
A digital payment gateway, Vapulus is an online platform that allows businesses to sell their products online without standard fees. Merchants can track their sales from one convenient location, whether they sell using POS systems, mobile apps, or websites. Vapulus keeps businesses on top of their sales with reporting tools that monitor each channel in real time. Users also have access to analytics that can help them determine how well their deals and promotions are working, so they can fine-tune them.
Vapulus accepts 135 currencies, so merchants can facilitate sales from customers across the globe. They can offer items in their customer’s local currency, which the platform exchanges into their own, all without cross-border fees.
NymCard is revolutionizing payment cards by providing financial institutions with the means to issue and process cards digitally. The startup creates a link between banking institutions and payment networks, leveraging cloud technology to deliver its services. With NymCard, institutions can minimize the cost of payment card programs and launch new initiatives faster than ever before.
Both legacy banks and fintech startups can use NymCard to provide a better card processing experience to their customers. When one of their members requests a card, they can deliver it instantaneously using the startup’s mobile app. Users can even connect their physical cards to the NymCard mobile wallet, which allows them to track their finances more easily.