Fintech News Digest: What’s Behind Saudi Arabia’s Fintech Boom?

Fintech News Digest: What’s Behind Saudi Arabia’s Fintech Boom?

Saudi Arabia’s fintech ecosystem is thriving to say the least.

In last week’s fintech news, a new report pointed out that Saudi fintech companies raised a total of US$157.2 million between January and August this year. That’s a whole bunch of zeroes added to the annual totals of US$7.8 million last year, or US$18 million raised in 2019.

Here’s some more data to give context:

One in every four funding deals in Saudi Arabia during H1 2021 went to a fintech company.
– At a CAGR of 40%, fintech venture investment in Saudi Arabia from 2017 to 2021 beat the MENA average by a large margin.
– Saudi fintech companies Tamara and Lendo have raised some of the biggest seed funding rounds for fintech startups across the MENA region. (Tamara then went on to raise the largest Series A round in the region as well.


Fintech adoption in Saudi Arabia is off the charts (no surprises there with the pandemic last year). One report found even though a sizeable section of the Saudi population uses cash once a week, cash withdrawals at ATMs and payment points was down 30% last year. Digital payments, on the other hand, grew 75%.

Secondly, while the Saudi fintech ecosystem is largely dominated by payments, we’ve seen a whole bunch of startups pop up in other areas as well, such as lending or B2B services. There’s diversity within payments as well, from BNPL and digital banking, to payment gateways and merchant solutions.

We also have Saudi authorities taking a broad step forward in infrastructural support for the fintech ecosystem. This includes initiatives such as its national instant payments system SARIE, an open banking initiative that is set to launch next year, and a collaboration with neighbouring UAE over a joint digital currency.

That’s pretty impressive for a country that currently has less than 100 fintech companies (both local and foreign).

MEA Fintech News Highlights

Regional

South African API fintech Stitch to expand into Nigeria after US$2 million seed extension round (company announcement).

Flutterwave launches two new remittance corridors between Europe and Africa with the Stellar Development Foundation (Finextra).

Blended-finance impact fund ABC Find invests US$1.8 million into a Benin micro finance institution for smallholder farmers in West Africa (Tech in Africa).

Quant Insight announces Europe and Middle East expansion, launches new headquarters in Cyprus (Gulf News).

UAE

united-arab-emirates

The Dubai Financial Services Authority unveils its regulatory framework for investment tokens (Fintech News Middle East).

The Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority launches early-stage startup programme SANDBOX (Fintech News Middle East).

tabby’s BNPL solution now works with Network International’s N-Genius Online gateway (company announcement).

Mashreq Bank and Visa collaborate over a new digital expense reconciliation and analysis platform (The Fintech Times).

Pyypl announces a partnership with Ripple to enable the latter’s on-demand liquidity solution for cross-border payments between the Middle East and the Philippines (The National).

Qatar

qatar

Qatar FinTech Hub launches Wave 3 of its its incubator and accelerator programmes with 16 fintech companies (Fintech News Middle East).

Qatar payment service provider Dibsy allows merchants to accept Apple Pay as a payment method (The Paypers).

Israel

israelSwiss VC firm blufolio invests in Israeli digital assets platform Simetria (Hubbis).

Nigeria

nigeria

The Central Bank of Nigeria rolls out the eNaira central bank digital currency (Fintech News Africa).

The African Development Bank partners with MTN Nigeria’s fintech subsidiary Y’ello Digital Financial Services to improve financial inclusion for women (The Fintech Times).

Nigeria’s Appzone Group launches blockchain platform Zone for local and intra-African payments processing (Punch).

Nigerian fintech companies raised around US$321 million across 47 deals in H1 2021 (Proshare).

Zambia

zambia

Zambia-based API fintech Union54 raises US$3 million seed round led by Tiger Global (TechCrunch).

South Africa

south africa

Microfinancing company Barko announces that it will be launching a digital bank soon (Fintech News Africa).

Mauritius

Mauritius announces a slew of initiatives to boost its fintech sector (Fintech News Africa).

Recommended Reading

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Based in the Middle East and want to invest in crypto? Here’s how.

“TymeBank and Kuda are clear frontrunners for digital banking in Africa right now. At the same time, several other players (some new) have also emerged in this space, creating more buzz for digital banks in Africa. These are mainly centred in Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa, three hotspots for fintech innovation in Africa right now…”
Seven digital banks in Africa you should keep an eye on – read here.

That’s it for this week’s wrap up. Subscribe to our Middle East and Africa newsletters to continue receiving the top MEA fintech news in your inbox.

This article was originally published on Fintech News Africa.

Featured image: edited from Unsplash

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