Highlights in Fintech in the Middle East and Africa: Partnerships and Announcements October 2020 by Richie Santosdiaz for The FinTech Times
Fintech Middle East & Africa Partnerships

Highlights in Fintech in the Middle East and Africa: Partnerships and Announcements October 2020

The FinTech Times highlights some of the key fintech partnerships and announcements that happened in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) in October. Coincidentally, The FinTech Times is also celebrating October around the theme of partnerships in the fintech sector. 

Tenemos with Stc Pay and Jordan’s Alia Bank

Saudi Arabian digital wallet, STCPay, has selected cloud-native, cloud-agnostic Temenos Payments and Temenos Transact running on a private cloud to achieve exponential growth and expand its digital payments capabilities. Ahmed Alenazi, STCpay’s CEO, stated, “Temenos brings to this partnership 20 years’ experience deploying advanced banking software and delivering next-generation digital experiences in Saudi Arabia.”

With respect to Jordan, Temenos also announced that Ahli Bank has gone live with cloud-native Temenos Infinity to rapidly develop and deploy new digital and mobile banking experiences, helping it differentiate and drive customer growth in Jordan and the Middle East.

FinHub973 Launches

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) launched FinHub 973: The CBB’s Digital Lab. The lab is powered by Fintech Galaxy and will be operated by the CBB in strategic partnership with the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), Bank ABC, Benefit, Bahrain Islamic Bank, Ila Bank and the National Bank of Bahrain.

Qi Card from Iraq and its growth and partnerships

Qi Card from Iraq had several announcements. The first is a large uptake in demand for additional points of sale (POS) kiosk systems throughout the region. Second, it recently announced that it anticipates reaching the milestone of issuing more than three million Mastercard Qi Cards to Iraqi and other Middle Eastern country citizens by the end of 2021. Third, they announced efforts towards financial inclusion with digital payments, salary-advance programs and personal loans to empower citizens.

Bahrain Grants World-First Authorisation for UK Fintech Fasset to Test Its Blockchain-Based Solution

UK-headquartered Fasset is a provider of blockchain-powered platforms for the financing of sustainable infrastructure and received authorisation to test its solutions for the tokenisation of hard assets in the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Fintech Regulatory Sandbox. The authorisation, issued by the Central Bank of Bahrain, is the first of its kind in the world. The company has raised some $4.7 million in pre-seed investment from strategic backers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Singapore.

Israel and the UAE and Bahrain

Following the historic Abraham Accords, October saw further collaborations. For example, Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah and his business unit Phoenix Capital is partnering with OurCrowd venture capital from Israel to form a $100 million fund to back technology investments between the UAE and Israel. The FinTech Times further wrote an in-depth analysis on the opportunities between the three countries.

Sugar and DMCC

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) has unveiled the DigitalSugar Trading Platform (DigitalSugar.io) in partnership with Universa Blockchain and Al Khaleej Sugar. Developed using blockchain technology, DigitalSugar is the first global exchange to offer traders and investors raw sugar on a spot basis.

Girls4Tech Reaches Goal of Educating One Million Young Women

Mastercard’s signature science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program, Girls4Tech, has reached its initial goal of educating one million girls. The program has a new ambition to reach five million girls by 2025. In MEA, Mastercard will be rolling out its signature program to new markets including Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Earlier this year, the company, in partnership with Dubai Expo 2020, pledged to equip 2020 girls in Dubai with the skills required for careers in STEM. Through a dedicated local program, Girls4Tech will run until the end of Dubai Expo 2020 in March 2022.

UAE’s FTA introduces new version of eDirham system

The Federal TAX Authority (FTA) in the UAE has completed its preparations to join the Third Generation of the UAE’s eDirham system. This was launched by the Ministry of Finance to facilitate the collection of state fees and revenues and to provide further options for paying government fees using the latest technology in accordance with the best safety and security standards.

TigerWit Awarded for its Global Expansion in Africa and Asia

Fintech trading platform, TigerWit, has received a further pair of awards from the Global Forex Awards 2020. This year the firm has been recognised as the Most Transparent Forex Broker in Africa and as the Best Forex Fintech Broker in Asia. Speaking about his work and experience within Africa, James Blackwood Murray as Regional Director for the African region was quoted as saying, “I couldn’t be happier to win Most Transparent Forex Broker. This really is the embodiment of everything we strive to provide for our African clients, and we are looking forward to further expanding our footprint across the continent.”

Mukuru and WorldRemit Partner to Further Expand Remittance Service into Southern Africa

Mukuru and WorldRemit announced a deepening of their existing partnership. Having initially launched the alliance in Zimbabwe, the two companies aim to expand their collaboration for cash remittances into Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Botswana. Andy Jury, CEO, Mukuru stated, “This is yet another step in growing our vision of providing our customers with financial services that are easily accessible and convenient.”

The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region had various partnerships and announcements in the fintech space
The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region had various partnerships and announcements in the fintech space IMAGE SOURCE GETTY

MTFX and Crown Agents Bank

MTFX partners with Crown Agents Bank to expand access into Africa and other emerging markets. In addition to foreign exchange capabilities, MTFX will also leverage CAB’s digital payment rails to deliver payments to its clients’ beneficiaries locally.

Qatar Fintech Hub Candidates for Wave-1 of incubator and accelerator programmes

Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH), co-founded by Qatar Development Bank (QDB), announced the final list of successful fintechs set to join Wave-1 of its incubator and accelerator programmes. The 11 selected early stage fintechs for the Qatar Fintech Accelerator incubator programme are C Wallet, Debito, Fatora, Musaada, My Book, SkipCash, Tess Payments, 7Sab (all eight from Qatar), DaVinci Payments (Australia), Pay Ring (Russia), and Remit Radar (UK).

The mature fintechs for the accelerator programme are Areeba (Qatar), FOMO Pay, MyCash MoneyNium (all three from Singapore), FOO (Lebanon), Madfooat (Jordan), Maya AI (Singapore), Manim Finance (Turkey), Nuclei (India), Oscar Business Hub (Canada), Payface (Brazil), Sync (UK), and Upayments (Kuwait).

Emirates Angel Investors Association Launches

A group of young investors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched the Emirates Angels Investors Association to help accelerate the growth of startups and facilitate investors’ investment and entrepreneurs’ activities in the country. Registered with the Ministry of Community Development and supported by the Ministry of Economy, the Abu Dhabi-based non-profit organisation will primarily focus on launching training programs, as well as activities that would attract and stimulate investment initiatives.

The Hope Fund Launches in Bahrain

His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain recently set up the ‘Hope Fund’, a fund dedicated specifically to invest in and support the country’s youth, their entrepreneurial endeavors, and initiatives.

According to the Royal Decree, His Majesty the King’s Representative for Humanitarian Works and Youth Affairs, National Security Advisor and Supreme Council for Youth and Sports Affairs (SCYS) Chairman His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa will supervise the fund and its establishment.

MAGNITT releases its Turkey Venture Report

MAGNiTT released its first Turkey startup funding report. The MAGNiTT’s H1 2020 Turkey Venture Investment report provides an in-depth analysis of the startup ecosystem in Turkey, a market with clear opportunities for continued Middle East and North Africa (MENA) cross-pollination.

Payguru in Turkey

Payguru, as reported by the Financial Times, is aiming to give residents a way to pay for bus travel cards via text message. From piloting it in the city of Kahramanmaras in 2018, users can send a text message and refill their cards via mobile phone. This is planned to be rolled out in Ankara and other parts of Turkey.

Back in June, TPAY MOBILE, a leading digital merchant acquirer and mobile payment enabler in MEA, announced the acquisition of 100% of the shares of Payguru. Payguru is based in Istanbul.

ASPIRE launches with DIFC FinTech Hive

Rainmaking, a corporate innovation and venture development firm, and parent company of Startupbootcamp, announced that it has secured an exclusive partner in United Arab Emirates to rollout ASPIRE – its virtual accelerator focused on enabling corporates to empower their departing talent to build their own startups.

Chris Locke, CEO of ASPIRE said, “Rainmaking is delighted to have the opportunity to work with DIFC FinTech Hive as our exclusive partner in Dubai. The partnership provides a pioneering new way of helping departing talent stay within the UAE and create new ventures that solve critical challenges.” It will be located in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)’s FinTech Hive.

Fintech Saudi Iniaitives: Launching Fintech Ecosystem Directory and Fintech Accelerator

First, Fintech Saudi is launching the Fintech Ecosystem Directory. The Directory, which is available to anyone for free on Fintech Saudi’s website, provides a comprehensive database of the key support services and partners that fintech companies in Saudi Arabia may need.

Second, Fintech Saudi also launched Fintech Accelerator, a unique innovation and entrepreneurship programme. It is powered by Flat6Labs, a Middle East regional startup programme and seed investment management company that fosters and invests in bright and passionate entrepreneurs with innovative and high-growth potential startups.

Rise Launches New App Xare to Empower Migrant Workers

Rise, a Dubai-based financial services platform designed for expatriate workers, has launched ‘Xare’, a new product aimed at empowering more than one billion people worldwide to become their own bank.

Emirates Development Bank launches national supply chain finance platform

Emirates Development Bank (EDB) announced the launch of UAE’s National Supply Chain Finance (SCF) platform, giving UAE businesses improved access to working capital by enabling suppliers to gain quicker access to money owed, while buyers get more time to pay off their invoices.

Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub Celebrates their two-year anniversary

The Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub (MAFH) is celebrating its 2nd year anniversary this month. The Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub is a fast-growing ecosystem where entrepreneurs, corporations, governments, tech experts, investors, financial service providers, universities and research institutions can collaborate to build cutting-edge solutions for the emerging African market, according to its website.

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and their five-year anniversary

To end, ADGM celebrated in October its five-year anniversary. The FinTech Times had an exclusive interview with Richard Teng, the CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority at ADGM on celebrating their anniversary, as well as having an overview of the upcoming Fintech Abu Dhabi that is happening from the 24-26th of November 2020. The interview can be watched here.

Separate, Richard Teng will be stepping down end of March 2021 and will be replaced by Emmanuel Givanakis as new CEO of FSRA.

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