Verity, a family banking and financial literacy app with prepaid cards for children, has officially launched in the UAE following 18 months of development.
Last November, the app opened a waiting list following an $800,000 pre-seed funding round and outlined plans for an UAE launch in the fourth quarter of 2021. Finally, following its latest bridge round, which brings the total amount raised to $1.2million, Verity has gone live.
According to the company, it wanted to make sure the platform was fully tested before onboarding users, so it could provide the best possible experience.
“There were a number of external factors that determined when we could go public. The concept of youth banking and, in particular, the type of comprehensive platform we have built at Verity, is still relatively nascent in the Middle East. We’ve combined an app that connects and engages the whole family with virtual and physical cards that empower kids and teens to take ownership of their spending – this hasn’t been done by an independent fintech startup before,” a spokesperson explained.
The Verity app and prepaid Visa card enable children from the age of eight to start building their personal finance skills. Parents control the overall family account while giving each child the option to create and manage their profile. They can top up a digital wallet directly from their bank accounts and then allocate a set amount to each user in the family through pre-scheduled monthly or weekly allowance or through one-off transfers.
Children also have the option to ‘earn’ money by completing chores and tasks set by their parents. Once they have received their funds, kids are prompted to decide how much they would like to contribute to personal or family savings goals, causes or charitable initiatives, or their spending budget.
Omar Al Sharif, co-founder of Verity, said it is proud to be the “first fintech to launch a truly comprehensive product that is ready for our community to download and start using immediately”.
“The Verity app has been built specifically for families in the region – and with more than 200 nationalities with highly varied lifestyles living in the UAE alone, that has meant accommodating an incredibly diverse audience,” he says. “We took the time to create a platform that was tailored to the needs of our target users and the positive feedback we’ve received from test groups, who have been among the first to experience the app, shows us this was the right approach.”
Verity has teamed up with Visa and MENA banking-as-a-service (BaaS) provider NymCard to facilitate the digital banking experience, issue personalised debit cards that are fully integrated into the app and allow children to make purchases online and in stores. Parents have full visibility on every transaction made by their child and receive real-time reports on family and individual spending.
According to Visa, the partnership is especially important in the UAE where a cashless society is fast ‘becoming the norm’. Sixty nine per cent of MENA transactions are expected to be cashless by 2023.
Alex McCrea, Visa’s VP, head of strategic partnerships and ventures for Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, says: “As youth begin to enter the workforce, it is critical that they are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to make sound and responsible financial decisions. We are delighted to partner with Verity in providing secure, innovative payment solutions to youth and their families here in the UAE and look forward to supporting their expansion across the region.”
Verity has outlined plans to use its additional capital to develop new app features and facilitate customer acquisition activities, while also fueling the company’s expansion into new markets across the MENA region.
“Over the last 18 months, the Verity team has worked tirelessly to drive the development of a comprehensive and intuitive family banking and financial literacy app – something that, until now, has not been available in the UAE,” says Kamal Al-Samarrai, co-founder of Verity. “Despite the challenges we may have faced, we are so proud to made it over the finish line in this first stage of our roadmap, and to have proven that we could, indeed, do it. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our investors, who backed us through it all, and we are grateful to have them by our side as we enter a new phase in our growth journey.”
The company has also launched a referral programme that allows existing subscribers to invite friends and family to join the Verity platform. For every new referred subscriber to download the app and activate their account, AED20 will be automatically credited to both parties.