The tech savviness of consumers in the Middle East, especially in the UAE, is a large reason the fintech industry has continued to grow. A new research report by red_mad_robot, the fintech providing services ranging from consulting to launching products, reveals the UAE has received almost half (43 per cent) of total fintech funding in the Middle East ($2billion).
While the rest of the world has stagnated its funding into the sector due to economic uncertainty and lack of trust in the sector, the Middle East has flourished. The report reveals that between 2021 and 2023, Middle East fintech startups have received total funding of $2billion through 140-160 deals. The red_mad_robot report highlights key players in the fintech market and trends within the region’s fintech environment.
Consumer tech savviness is driving the development of startups as they demand more from the growing organisations. Specifically, digital payments, instant cross-border payments, buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) and digital banking are all hot areas consumers are interested in. red_mad_robot’s report shows that companies are demonstrating their services and sustainable business models through later-stage deals and exits.
Trends in the Middle East revealed by the report
- Digital payment solutions are growing rapidly.
- The Middle East is in the stages of approving virtual assets, DeFi and CBDC.
- Fintech startups see opportunities in cross-border payments and remittances space- to help cater to a large number of foreign workers.
- SMEs and merchants are using digital platforms to improve business processes and get access to capital.
- Rise of the tech ecosystem and superapps.
- Neobanking is an advanced trend – the market has different ways of developing: digital-only offering from leading incumbents and independent firms.
- BNPL services have potential of becoming more popular in this region.
Supporting change at a political and a consumer level
Another huge factor playing a key part in the continued support of fintech startup development is governmental support. Central banks and regulators continue to show their interest in the field through new regulations and infrastructures, catalysing development. This is in addition to establishing a variety of accelerators, incubators and fintech hubs.
When looking at the impact each country is having on fintech funding, notable stand outs in the report are the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Egypt. The UAE has amassed 43 per cent of the total fintech funding over the past three years. Meanwhile, the KSA and Egypt account for 46 per cent of fintech companies in the region.
There are nine projects taking place in Egypt and six in the KSA. However, these projects are not limiting themselves by staying local. Successful startups are already operating in multiple markets with further plans for expansion. For example, the Egyptian-founded digital bank, Yalla, has already set up in the UAE with plans to expand to KSA and Kuwait.
The Middle East fintech industry is poised for continued growth and innovation, driven by consumer demand, government support, and the presence of promising startups. Investors and industry players are encouraged to explore the vast opportunities within this thriving market.