These past few years have seen Saudi Arabia’s fintech sector gaining strong momentum, a growth that’s been fueled by favorable market conditions, the country’s dynamic startup ecosystem and booming funding activity.
Between 2020 and 2021, the number of fintech companies operating in Saudi Arabia rose by 37%, growing from 60 in 2020 to 82 in 2021, according to government-led initiative Fintech Saudi.
These companies raised a record of SAR 1.3 billion (US$347 million) in venture capital investment, a sum that represents more than 20 times what was raised the year prior (SAR 66.4 million).
The momentum is continuing in 2022, with already a number of large rounds being closed by growth stage fintech companies to fuel expansion. Today, we look at six fast-growing fintech companies headquartered in Saudi Arabia that have been making significant strides this past year and which are poised for great things in 2022.
Founded in 2014, Foodics is an end-to-end cloud-based POS and restaurant management solution that gives business owners a holistic overview of their company and operations.
The solution provides businesses with real-time reporting and high-tech inventory management. It even allows them to submit orders to the kitchen and manage employees’ timesheets. Some of Foodics’ key features include third-party apps integration, digital table management, digital menus, a digital kitchen display system, and the ability to work offline.
The company says it serves a range of sites from dine-in restaurants, cafes and quick service restaurants, to bakeries, food trucks and so-called cloud kitchens. Since its inception, the It claims to have successfully processed over 5 billion orders through its platform.
In April 2022, Foodics raised a US$170 million Series C funding round which it said it will use to expand regionally and internationally, and fund its mergers and acquisitions (M&A) strategy, which it kickstarted in January 2022 with the purchase of POSRocket, the second largest restaurant cloud technology provider in MENA. The company is also planning to launch and scale new initiatives around fintech, micro-lending and supply chain management.
Headquartered in Riyadh, Foodics is currently available across 17 countries, with five offices in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt.
Saudi Digital Payments (STC Pay) was founded in October 2018 as a wholly-owned fintech subsidiary of Saudi Telecommunication Company (STC) Group. The company provides a digital wallet that allows customers to make all their usual financial transactions securely and effortlessly in one app, providing services and capabilities such as transfers, payments, bill settlements, remittances, and group expenses tracking.
STC Pay claims it is the largest digital wallet in MENA, serving more than six million users. In November 2020, the company struck a new landmark by signing an agreement with Western Union to sell a 15%-minority stake valued at US$200 million.
In June 2021, STC Pay secured a digital banking license from the local central bank. The company has since been transforming its STC Pay platform into an integrated digital bank called STC Bank that would provide a host of banking services digitally.
Established in 2008 and based in Riyadh, Geidea is a leading and fully licensed payment service provider offering digital banking technology, point-of-sale (POS) terminals and business management solutions for both financial institutions and small businesses in retail and digital commerce.
The company says it provides support to more than 700,000 payment terminals and ATMs networks in Saudi Arabia and serves over 139,000 merchants including regional and international brands, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as e-commerce players.
Geidea has been expanding across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the broader Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region since at least 2021, establishing a presence in countries including Egypt and the UAE.
Founded in 2020, Tamara is one of the largest buy now, pay later (BNPL) startups in Saudi Arabia, providing shoppers with the ability to split their payments online and in-store with no fees and no interest.
The company, which operates in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, has two main products: Split in 3 (split payments in 3 and pay over 2 months interest free), and Split in 6 (split payments in 6 and pay over 5 months interest free), which are available both online and in-store through Tamara’s consumer app. It claims a base of over 1,000 merchants including Ikea, Namshi, Floward, SACO, Nice One, Whites, and Nejree.
In April 2021, Tamara raised US$100 million in funding (debt and equity) in a round which was said at the time to be the largest Series A round recorded in MENA. The round, led by Checkout.com, was meant to help the startup’s expansion across the GCC and MENA, scale its team and fund the distribution of its BNPL products.
Founded in 2019, Lean Technologies is the provider of a fintech platform and APIs for fintech innovators to seamlessly connect to their customers’ bank accounts to initiate real time payments and retrieve account information. Possible use cases of Lean Technologies’ APIs include digital accounting, robo-advisory, personal finance, BNPL and peer-to-peer (P2P) lending.
Lean Technologies says it has amassed dozens of major clients including some of the region’s leading financial institutions across verticals like remittances, cryptocurrency, and investment.
In January 2022, the startup raised US$33 million in a Series A round led by Sequoia Capital India, marking the US venture capital (VC) firm’s first investment in the GCC. The company said it intends to use the proceeds to grow its team and expand further across the region.
Founded in 2016, Rasan is the technology company behind the pioneering Tameeni insurtech platform and other fintech platforms. The company specializes in building customized tech solutions and scaling multi-sided platforms, focusing on simplifying the user experience and driving operational digitalization, value-chain transformation and cross-sector collaboration across Saudi Arabia and the wider region.
Rasan’s brands include Tameeni, a provider of car and health insurance coverage that offers an instant policy by enabling retail customers to compare insurance prices and coverage, then select and pay for their policy of choice all in one place; and Treza, a car leasing insurance platform with live card quotations.
Since 2017, Rasan claims its platforms have attracted a total of eight million users at a daily traffic rate close to 25,000 leads.
In November 2021, the startup closed an investment of 90 million SAR (US$24 million) led by VC firm Impact46 to fuel its evolution and the growth of Tameeni, simplify digital innovations and advance the sector’s sustainable growth.
Featured image credit: Edited from Unsplash