MENA Investment
Middle East & Africa Paytech

Fuse Simplifies Cross-Border Payments for Global Businesses in the GCC

Fuse, launched in January 2023, aims to facilitate cross-border payments for global businesses, particularly focusing on the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region.

In an interview with Mark Walker, editorial director at The Fintech Times, George Davis, co-founder and CEO of Fuse Technologies, shared insights into his company’s operations, challenges, and future directions.

George Davis’s journey and Fuses’ origins
George Davis CEO Fuse Technologies
George Davis, co-founder and CEO of Fuse Technologies

George Davis, a serial entrepreneur, has a rich background in machine learning and payments. He previously built and sold a machine learning company and worked on payment solutions for various businesses in London.

Davis’s experiences led him to co-found a cross-border payments business, leveraging stablecoins to facilitate transactions in challenging markets like Thailand. However, expanding into the Middle East revealed significant infrastructure barriers, prompting the inception of Fuse with his co-founder, James.

Addressing cross-border payment challenges

Fuse targets large international public payment businesses, helping them expand into the GCC region through what they term “last mile payouts.” This involves facilitating local currency payments from businesses based abroad.

Davis explains that the Middle East, being one of the few untapped payments markets globally, offers immense growth potential. However, setting up the necessary infrastructure is complex and time-consuming, often taking years. Fuse simplifies this process by operating under their local licence, allowing businesses to bypass the regulatory and logistical hurdles typically associated with market entry.

Differentiation from local providers

When asked how Fuse compares to local payment providers like Nymcard and GPS, Davis highlighted the distinct focus of Fuse Technologies on international enterprise businesses. Unlike local providers that cater to local fintechs, Fuse exclusively serves businesses with no local presence or desire to establish one.

Their first major client, DLocal, exemplifies the type of large, public companies they target. By providing virtual IBANs and facilitating compliance with local regulations, Fuse enables seamless transactions for international businesses.

Overcoming regulatory hurdles

Navigating the regulatory landscape in the Middle East is particularly challenging. Davis notes that unlike in Europe or the UK, where regulations are well-defined, the Middle East often relies on supervisory frameworks with no objection certificates. This approach allows regulators to maintain flexibility but creates uncertainty for businesses.

However, Davis emphasises that building strong relationships with regulators and maintaining transparency are crucial for success. Fuse benefited from hiring a Chief Compliance Officer with extensive experience in regulatory enforcement, ensuring their operations align with local requirements.

Future directions and expansion

Looking ahead, Fuse plans to enhance its offerings by enabling payments in both directions—into and out of the GCC region. This includes facilitating local payments in dollars and euros, and addressing a significant pain point for businesses in the Middle East seeking to transact internationally.

Additionally, the company is expanding its infrastructure to support local payments in other global markets, such as the US and Singapore.

Compliance and trust-building

Compliance has been a cornerstone of Fuses’ strategy from the outset. Recognising the sensitivity of the region to issues like money laundering and fraud, the company built its operations with a compliance-first approach. This has paid off, with regulators responding positively to their transparent and meticulous application processes.

Market reception and challenges

Despite the regulatory complexities, Fuse has encountered a welcoming market, particularly due to its focus on bringing new revenue to local banking partners without cannibalising existing business. Their approach contrasts with many fintechs that often compete directly with traditional banks. By targeting smaller banks for initial partnerships, Fuse Technologies has found a niche that benefits both its operations and its banking partners.

Fuse stands out in the fintech landscape for its strategic focus on the GCC region, addressing significant market gaps in cross-border payments. With a compliance-first approach and a clear vision for future expansion, the company is well-positioned to facilitate the seamless flow of payments into and out of one of the world’s most dynamic and fast-growing markets.

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