The fintech sector in the Middle East, despite being relatively small when compared with the likes of the US or Europe, has grown tremendously these past years with locations such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but also Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon emerging as regional fintech hubs.
Several local startups have expanded regionally and experiencing rapid growth. Many have even caught the eye of foreign investors who have begun pouring millions to fuel their growth. Here is our list of the top eight fintech startups in the Middle East to keep an eye on in 2018:
Founded in 2015, Democrance is an insurtech startup and the first mover for microinsurance in the region. The startup partners with insurance companies and mobile operators to offer insurance products to the underserved microinsurance market in the Middle East and North Africa.
Democrance focuses on providing affordable and accessible products to the masses by leveraging mobile technology and digital platforms.
Democrance raised US$800,000 in its first external funding round in October 2017. Most recently, the startup entered a partnership with ADA, an inclusive finance specialist NGO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations (UN) specialized agency, to develop a sustainable microinsurance model that provides insurance protection to low income group migrants working in the UAE. It secured a US$500,000 grant to develop the project.
MadfooatCom is a Jordanian bill payment and payment service company that got its start at Oasis500, a prominent accelerator and venture capital firm in the country.
MadfooatCom was established in 2011 and has since expanded the successful bill payment focus, creating a platform for customers to inquire and pay their bills in a single location via their banks’ online channels. The solution can be tied into other payment solutions as well.
MadfooatCom is a partner of the Central Bank of Jordan for which it created and has been administering the country’s national electronic bill presentment and payment service gateway, eFawateerCom. Since launching the service, madfooat.com has been working with 49 billers and connected to 23 of Jordan’s 25 banks.
MadfooatCom closed a US$5 million Series A funding round in 2016. The startup is now looking to raise a Series B round of around US$15-20 million to fund its expansion in emerging markets, including Algeria, Palestine, Kenya and Morocco.
Based in Amman, Jordan, Liwwa is an online lending platform that connects small businesses in need of capital with investors. Since 2015, Liwwa has enabled businesses to raise more than US$8 million through 220 loans.
Liwwa was founded in 2013. Co-founder and CEO Ahmed Moor started the company out of Harvard, and it boasts of international rockstar advisors like Prosper’s Chris Larsen.
The startup has raised over US$4.8 million in funding so far with investors that include DASH Ventures, al Etihad, MENA Venture Investments and Silicon Badia. Its latest round, closed in March 2017, has been used to build up the company’s ability to assess an applicant using technology rather than traditional credit ratings.
Founded in 2015 and headquartered in the UAE, Finerd is a provider of automated investment management solutions for retail clients in the Middle East.
The platform, which went live in September 2015, is targeted at mid-career professionals with around US$100-200K in liquid assets.
Finerd was part of TURN8’s 2016 accelerator program and through which it received US$600,000 in funding. The company said at the time that the investment would be used to bring its much-awaited Sharia-compliant products to market.
Ajar Online (Kuwait)
Founded in 2015, Ajar Online is a Kuwait-based fintech startup that allows tenants to pay their rent conveniently online, via SMS or email, and landlords to view live updates of their tenants’ payments, statuses, histories and collection reports.
The startup won the first-ever KIPCO Tmkeen Award for Young Entrepreneurs and US$100,000 worth of services from the KIPCO Group in November 2015. The same year, it was among the finalists of the MIT Enterprise Arab Startup Competition.
In early 2016, the company signed a partnership with Warba Bank who are now running Ajar Online’s back office financial operations and promoting its services to their corporate clients.
Ajar Online closed its second round of investment in October 2017. The round was led by Dubai-based venture firm BECO Capital.
Paym.es is a shopping chatbot built by fintech startup Paymes Elektronik Ticaret AŞ that helps users sell or purchase items by asking them a series of questions like chatting with a friend on messenger apps.
The solution aims to facilitate e-commerce through a user-friendly application that’s used in everyday life rather than a new application or website. The messenger bot operates as a simple conversation based on a series of multiple-choice questions and can accept payments natively without sending users to an external website.
Paym.es won Seedstars Turkey in July 2017. The startup will head to the Seedstars Summit, a week-long program taking place in Switzerland in April 2018.
Founded in 2012, Iyzico is a Turkish provider of mobile and web payments services sometimes dubbed the “Stripe of Turkey.” It targets online businesses and enterprises, particularly e-commerce sites, offering a developer-friendly platform for taking payments online.
Iyzico closed an impressive US$15 million Series C funding round in April 2017. Since its launch, the startup claims it is powering over 10,000 merchants and counts 200,000 seller accounts via various online marketplaces.
Amman-based POSRocket is a provider of cloud-based point of sale solutions to SMEs that allows businesses to monitor all operations in real time including cash flow, inventories, and analytics from wherever they are and through any device.
POSRocket now operates in Jordan and Egypt. In 2018, it plans to begin supporting the Saudi and GCC markets.
In September 2017, POSRocket raised US$650,000 as seed investment from Jabbar Internet Group, Arzan VC, Propeller Inc. and two angel investors.
Foodics (Saudi Arabia)
Founded in 2013, Foodics offers a cloud-based iPad point of sale system for transactions, inventory, employee scheduling, loyalty programs and e-commerce, enabling seamless operations management of restaurants and retail stores.
In September 2017, Foodics raised US$4 million, its first funding round. The round was led by Raed Ventures and Riyad Taqnia Fund (RTF) with the participation of Neseel Holding and 500 Startups Fund.
The capital has been used to fuel the company’s growth in its two current markets, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as help it expand to new countries in the Gulf and the Middle East.
UAE Fintech Startup Map
You can download the Startup Map including report here.