Today, we’ll explore the most expensive of the fintech startups founded in the UAE
The United Arab Emirates is the biggest fintech hub in the MENA region, being a single country that hosts almost half (46%) of all of the region’s fintech companies. Namely, there are 489 fintech startups in the UAE. The opportunities of the region are enormous. That’s exactly what is pushing globally recognised fintech giants like Stripe to start with the UAE while expanding into the Middle East.
The most expensive of the fintech startups founded in the UAE will be ranked by the funding raised up-to-date since no valuation estimates are available.
- Channel VAS $104M
- Bayzat $28.6M
- PayTabs $25.3M
- yallacompare $21.7M
- Aqeed $18M
- Beehive $15.5M
- Telr $13.9M
- NymCard $13.6M
- Souqalmal $11.5M
- NOW Money $10.9M
Channel VAS is a premium multi-functional fintech company, developing mobile financial services, airtime credit services, handset loans, and big data analytics. The company was founded in 2012. For less than a decade, Channel VAS expanded its activities across more than 42 countries in Africa, Middle East, Asia, and LATAM. The company provides micro- and nano-finance solutions to mobile operators and micro-finance institutions, as well as a handset financing program to mobile network operators. It also offers a fully managed Airtime Credit & Airtime Advance platform with unique technology to monetise out-of-credit subscribers.
Bayzat is the cloud-based platform making automated HR, payroll, employee benefits, and insurance available to all types of businesses. Its proprietary app includes both the HR and employee tools and features and gives employees access to their benefits anywhere, 24/7. The platform offers online work schedule management, storing and updating employee-related documents, online insurance onboarding and claims, real-time reporting and analytics, online medical consultations for employees, frictionless payroll processing, and even additional perks for users. Employees can also conveniently check-in through the Bayzat app so that attendance is controlled automatically or request a day off. Bayzat has served over 1000 local employers so far. The company was founded in 2011. Its co-Founder and CEO Talal Bayaa has been recently recognised as one of the top 30 fintech influencers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The company has developed an online payment gateway that allows businesses to seamlessly accept payments from all major credit cards around the world on websites or mobile applications. The gateway is localised according to the customer’s needs. PayTabs gateway has a built-in two-layered fraud protection system as well. Founded in 2014, the startup offers a range of merchant solutions, including POS software, dashboards, billing, and more. Educational establishments can integrate PayTabs to accept school fees too. In 2020, the company launched PayTabs MENA Switch, the real-time, integrated, turnkey platform for PSPs. With this solution, customers can opt to pay in local currency, using a local payment method. Over 6 years of operation, the startup expanded to Oman, Jordan, and Egypt. In June 2021, PayTabs launched digital payments in Iraq.
Founded in 2011, yallacompare.com has become the best universal finance comparison site in the Middle East, helping users to find and compare credit cards, personal loans, mortgages, car loans, insurance, and bank accounts from diverse range of local and international banks and financial institutions. The business is now present in major regional markets: UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, and Jordan. The users of yallacompare resource get free access to exclusive offers from leading banks and financial institutions not otherwise available to the general public.
Aqeed is an insurtech founded only 3 years ago. It’s rapidly developing and disrupting the traditional insurance space with innovative approaches. In 2019, the company launched cloud-based tools Aqeed Sales and Aqeed Brokers. The first product is a Shopify-like platform (SaaS) to help offline insurance brokers set up their own digital stores to sell insurance online. The second solution is the back-end tool, enabling insurance brokers to manage policy issuance, verify documents, update insurance plans, add new products, and manage renewals. Their AI-powered platform, Aqeed People, allows small and medium businesses to manage their insurance, payroll, and human resources, all in one place. The platform comes with a smart AI bot that has features like the real-time answering of HR-related questions, running payroll in minutes, improving the onboarding processes, introducing the “self-serve” experience, and more.
Beehive is MENA’s first regulated online marketplace for P2P lending. The platform enables quick and low-cost angel investments for UAE-based SMEs. To request funding, startups should meet minimal criteria of 2 years in business and over $680,000 in annual revenues. Beehive connects individuals and businesses in a simplified crowdfunding environment. The interests for borrowers are much lower than the banks typically charge, while investors earn average returns of 12% per year. The startup has been operating since 2013. Recently, it has signed an agreement with Emirates Development Bank (EDB) to support hundreds of SMEs in this challenging time and expand funding options. Adding institutional investors to the portfolio opens up new opportunities to Beehive’s customers while bringing better liquidity to the platform.
The 7-year old online payment gateway provider has been recognised as one of the fintech leaders of the region. After creating a popular payment gateway, Telr launched a new service called TelrShops – an eCommerce platform for local merchants. Besides receiving numerous awards, the startup has established solid partnerships with global brands. In March 2021, Telr collaborated with PayPal to allow Telr merchants in the United Arab Emirates to accept PayPal payments from customers shopping online and expand their market presence globally by reaching 348 million worldwide PayPal consumers. The same month, another agreement with Aleta Planet, a China-centric Singapore fintech, enabled UnionPay cardholders from China to make QR code payments for e-invoicing or online purchases with Telr’s merchants in the UAE. Telr keeps adding payment alternatives including “buy-now-pay-later” options and subscription services to its platform and uses AI algorithms to prevent fraud. That makes it one of the best MENA fintech solutions.
NymCard’s proprietary platform enables developers to launch new customised card payment programs. The company handles manual account approvals, investigates suspicious activity, examines end-customer complaints, and performs dozens of other daily activities required by the partner banks. Its customers can leverage NymCard’s banking relationships without the need to directly work with them. The platform operates through open APIs. Once businesses apply for a card payment solution, NymCard gives them access to a privately dedicated sandbox in which developers can build any functionality and controls targeted to their specific use case. The benefits of using the platform include 3DS, transaction matching, webhooks, dynamic spend controls, the friendly open-file format of REST/ JSON messages, and an intuitive dashboard. Nymcard can run either in the cloud or on-premises giving the flexibility to migrate and transfer data securely between multiple environments. Open APIs also allow customers to instantly issue, create, control and distribute virtual or physical cards. The startup has been around only since 2018, but it’s already noted for accelerating MENA’s fintech expansion. NymCard’s platform powers real-time payments, alternative authorisation flows, multi-currency wallets, corporate expense cards, on-demand delivery services, buy-now-pay-later offerings, youth banking models, etc.
Souqalmal is the leading financial comparison site in the Middle East with operations in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE. The resource allows customers to compare both banking and insurance products available on the market. After comparing financial products, clients can opt for direct purchases through the platform. This June, it has also launched MoneyDoctor, a financial education program that companies in the UAE can offer to their employees. The project was inspired by companies in the UAE reaching out to the Souqalmal team for help with educating their employees on managing their financial stresses over the course of the COVID-19 crisis. In 2016, after 4 years of the startup’s operations, Forbes MiddleEast ranked Souqalmal the 9th Most Promising Business in the UAE. Two years later, Souqalmal ranked number 2 on Forbes’ Top 20 Most Disruptive Businesses in the Middle East.
NOW Money utilises financial technology to provide branchless accounts to everyone – especially those currently unbanked – in the Middle East. The startup offers a digital payroll and account solution for companies and their low-income employees earning AED 5,000 per month or less. Individual accounts are also expected in the near future. NOW Money account holders receive a debit card, a dedicated app with an in-built exchange marketplace, and 24/7 support. The accounts are free, without a minimum balance required. All accounts come with a debit card attached.