Financial technologies (Fintech) have played a key role in the Egyptian startup scene’s growth spurt of the past decade. The youth bulge and a high rate of mobile phone penetration, topped by the government’s financial inclusion agenda, set the stage for more investment in Fintech solutions.
The need for these solutions was even more intensified with the COVID-19 situation, causing individuals and businesses to seek safe and affordable means of financial transactions.
Egypt’s first Fintech accelerator, AUC Venture Lab, recently held its first ever virtual demo, showcasing six remotely supported Fintech startups who graduated the Spring ’20 cycle, demonstrating high potential to contribute to digital transformation and to attracting more of the informal economy into the mainstream.
When it comes to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), there is a high cultural conviction about investing in gold to protect savings, especially in times of crises. “According to research by the Emirates Investment Bank in 2019, investors tend to keep 8 percent of their wealth in precious metals,” says Rafy Kourouian, one of the four founders of Goldady, with years of experience in gold trading in the region.
The startup caters to a need for insured gold investment options with low transportation risk and affordable transaction costs. Goldady’s solution is a digital gold bullion investment platform, on which retail investors can buy, sell, store and insure bullion gold at wholesale prices. Protected by cybersecurity measures, users can place buy- or sell-orders and check the outcome of their investment.
When users choose to buy gold, the amount they transfer to Goldady is 100 percent allocated to a portion of a large gold bar that sits in a fully-insured safety deposit box. The financial model is based on a 0.7 percent buy or sell fee, and a 0.1 per cent vaulting and insurance fee. Facing mostly international competition, Goldady aims to reach 10 percent of the bullion market in Egypt by their seventh year of operation.
Three obstacles are limiting the expansion of e-commerce in Egypt, according to Mostafa Eshra, co-founder of Delivery Shop: the quality of the supply chain from receipt of product or money, to delivery to storage; the difficulty of cash-back; and the high pricing compared to the value of the delivered product.
The startup has constructed a customer-oriented model to reverse those obstacles through services that are payable via merchants’ e-wallets. Eight months ago, Delivery Shop entered the market to serve small and medium e-commerce businesses; a market whose estimated size is EGP 2 billion, of which the startup is targeting a 2 percent market share within three years. Older startups are already providing similar services such as 24-hour delivery, 48-hour cash transfer, and tracking systems, yet Delivery Shop pledges on its lower prices and customizable solutions, which have already allowed it to secure contracts with 150 e-commerce platforms.
For customers looking for affordable, touch-free and secure digital authentication and access solutions, Pass|App’s concept is to provide them with needs-specific solutions, explains Hany El Borai, the startup’s founder and CEO.
The startup produces their own IOT hardware devices that accept payments and manage gate access, as well as a mobile wallet app and software for securing privacy in micro-transactions. Pass|App’s customers currently include offices, workspaces, gated communities and parking venues.
Since launching in 2019, the startup has facilitated two million transactions of identity verification, gate opening and payment processing. The startup aspires to capitalize on its capacity in contactless technology to expand into the market where their main competition comes from companies offering manual access systems and manpower-based access solutions.
Perfectly understanding the needs of both businesses and individuals when it comes to managing payments, EddyPay is another e-payment solution in the FinTech space.
“When we spoke with merchants [from among our target market], we found that they have mainly three needs out of a billing system: a monitoring mechanism, a recurring payment system, and a zero-integration solution that doesn’t require a technical person on their team,” explains EddyPay’s founder Omar Khalil.
From the merchant side, they can enter their customer list and contacts, amounts due and the frequency of payment. The application sends payment reminders to the custmers and provides cashless payment options. For the past couple of months their solution has allowed EddyPay’s clients to expand their clientele geographically, easing the methods to pay deposits and due amounts. EddyPay aspires to establish itself among competition by facilitating the e-payments of both private bills as well as public utility bills.
In a world increasingly driven by data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes Pianati.ai to reflect this global movement on the Egyptian business ecosystem.
Sherif Shaalan, CEO and co-founder of Pianati.ai, states that the size of the serviceable obtainable market for data and AI solutions in Egypt is $1 billion and is expected to increase as more leading organizations are looking to become more data-driven, especially with many businesses striving to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The digital transformation process for many organizations is challenged by the difficulty of finding qualified technical staff, choosing the right platform and investing in time and cost to test and deploy the optimal solutions.
This drove the concept of the startup, proudly introducing their Decision Command Center (DCC), considering all the needed elements for an organization’s informed decision-making in a fast, easy and less expensive way. The DCC is automated to advise corporate strategy with a single version of truth, providing actionable insights on pricing optimization, customer insights, sales predictions, marketing and supply chain optimization for maximum profitability.
With 7 percent of Egypt’s GDP predicted to be generated from AI by 2030, and with a national AI strategy and national council under development, Pianati.ai positions itself in this promising area. Launched earlier this year, the startup’s goal is to hit $0.5 million as an annual recurring revenue through transforming a target of 20 organizations into becoming data and AI driven companies, with a 10 percent return-on-investment (ROI).
The process to obtain a loan can be a cumbersome one whether for individuals or businesses, requiring time consuming and repetitive visits to branches of banks to get a loan scheme that may not be the best fit for them. Exacerbated by limited financial knowledge, as well as few ways to compare different options does not necessarily lead to the desired credit sales.
Mawelny responds to this market need by offering an online financial credit platform that allows the customer to easily access information, compare loan schemes, complete paperwork and obtain finance more easily through linking with partner banks. A smart chat box allows the client to enquire about any financial products or terms they are unsure of, as well as receive financial advice.
Entering a market with an estimated size of EGP 430 billion, Mawelny is determined to stand out through the filtered leads and customized offerings to clients, as explained by its co-founder Mohamed Mahmoud. Its revenue model is based on commissions from banks, and a fee charged to the client. In five months, Mawelny set its foot in the market on a positive note facilitating EGP 12 million worth of loans and partnering with two banks.