Key developments in the Egyptian startup ecosystem have led to a renewed appetite for growth in the space, and for its fintech startups in Egypt as well.
Much of this activity is attributed to a slew of policy level shifts. For instance, a new Egyptian Central Bank Law put in place last year addressed the regulation of a number of fintech sectors for the first time. These include cashless payments, digital banks, and cryptocurrency.
More recently, the Egyptian cabinet recently approved a draft bill allowing the country’s Financial Regulatory Authority to license non-banking financial companies and fintech startups in Egypt.
On the funding end, Q1 2021 saw US$22 million flow into Egypt’s startup space overall. Raised by 34 startups, this was 2x the amount raised in the previous quarter. Ahmed El Alfi, founder and chairman of Sawari Ventures, attributed this to improved “quality” of entrepreneurship and funding, with more seasoned entrepreneurs starting companies, Wamda reported. His own VC firm Sawari Ventures raised US$71 million for a tech-focused fund in Egypt in April this year.
Last year, fintech accounted for 8% of the total VC funding raised. The Wamda report noted, however, that about two-thirds of the funding raised this far came from fintech startups in Egypt. Foreign investors are also showing special interest towards fintech startups in Egypt, the report stated.
Amidst this spurt of activity, here are 6 Egyptian fintechs to watch out for in 2021.
Digital banking startup Telda gained attention this year after it became Sequoia Capital’s first MENA startup foray. The VC firm led a US$5 million pre-seed round, with participation from Global Founders Capital and Class 5 Global. Telda was the first Egyptian investment for both participating investors.
The digital banking company offers free accounts that can be opened completely online. It also provides a Mastercard-powered card, and instant money transfer functions.
More interestingly, the startup was just about a month old when it raised the round. The company has already received over 30,000 sign ups, and more than 17,000 app requests for a card by Telda.
Telda’s founding team features a former senior engineer from Uber, Youssef Sholqamy, and the founder and former CTO of transport tech startup Swvl, Ahmed Sabbah.
NowPay received backing from a handful of investors this year through a Pre-Series A round. Investors in the undisclosed round included Global Ventures, Beco Capital, Endure Capital, Foundation Ventures, and Abderahman ElSewedy. The company is part of the globally renowned accelerator Y Combinator’s winter 2021 batch.
The Shariah-compliant mobile app allows employees to access salary advances, provided their companies have partnered with the platform. NowPay monetises its solution by charging the employees a fee, but without interest. It is also looking to expand in the MENA region.
NowPay was founded by Mostafa Ashour and Ahmed Sabry in 2018, and has clients such as Sodic and Axa. It also recently signed an MoU with the Export Development Bank of Egypt. The agreement provides NowPay credit facility to fund its products.
Dayra is another Egyptian fintech to have featured in Y Combinator’s winter 2021 batch, alongside NowPay. The company recently raised pre-seed funding of US$3 million in an equity and debt mix. The round featured investors Tanmiya Capital Ventures, EFG EV Fintech, and EFG Hermes, alongside a number of angel investors.
The company offers plug and play app-based financial solutions for small B2B clients, such as gig workers and micro-businesses, who may not have easy access to formal finance.
SME digital payments provider Paymob cinched US$15 million in the second tranche of a Series A round this year. The funding tops up its first tranche rise of US$3.5 million in 2020. The funding will help the company grow its merchant network, and improve its product suite. The company also aims to step foot in regional markets this year, including Saudi Arabia.
UAE VC firm Global Ventures led the round, with participation from tech investment fund A15, and Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO.
The 2015-founded company’s infrastructure processes over 85% market share of mobile wallet transactions in Egypt, Paymob said. Aside from being the largest payment facilitator in Egypt, it also has a presence in five other markets, including Kenya, Pakistan, and Palestine, it added.
Last year, the company’s monthly revenue grew 5x, with annual total payment volume crossing US$5 billion. Paymob’s merchant clients include Swvl, ElGouna, LG, Samsonite, Aeropostale, and the American University of Cairo.
In another seven-figure seed round, Cassbana raised US$1 million in seed funding earlier this year from Disruptech. The company uses a combination of short instant loans, user behavioural data, and machine learning technology, to build financial identities for different groups of users.
Cassbana lends to users and then processes their data using machine learning to assign credit scores. Founded in 2020 by Haitham Nassar, former Planning Director at Careem, it is currently working with micro-retailers as its first user group.
Collaborative group lending and savings platform MoneyFellows reportedly has plans of raising US$20 million from VC funds this year, Reuters reported. The company aims to use the funds to expand its product suite and regional footprint.
The 2018-founded company is digitising a traditional Egyptian system known as gameeya. Similar to a savings cooperative, users pay into this app-version of a traditional money circle, and proceeds are distributed to members for big purchases.
The company has 1.5 million users for its solution so far. It has also raised total capital of US$11 million, including a US$4 million Series A last year. Earlier this year, MoneyFellows signed an MoU with Banque Misr, to provide MoneyFellows users with disbursement and collection products.
Apart from looking to expand further in Africa, MoneyFellows is also planning to add new features to its platform, such as buy now pay later offerings.
Evidently, the government push to boost its startup ecosystem, particularly in the fintech space, is yielding results. For fintech startups in Egypt, funding and market opportunities are likely to open up further, as they moves briskly towards growth.
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