UAE digital banking app YAP raises $41m to expand into new markets

UAE-based financial technology start-up and digital banking app YAP has raised $41 million as it seeks to expand into new markets and enhance its technology offerings.

The funding round was led by Saudi Arabia-based investment company Aljazira Capital. Global investment conglomerate Abu Dawood Group, Saudi Arabia’s Astra Group, Dubai-based private equity business Audacia Capital and family offices also participated in the funding round, the company said in a statement on Monday.

The FinTech platform, which was launched in 2021 in partnership with RAKBank and has more than 130,000 users signed up on its app, plans to complete its Series A funding by the end of the year, it added.

“We just received the In-Principal Approval for an EMI license in Pakistan and PSP for Ghana and Saudi Arabia.YAP continues to redefine the FinTech sector in the region,” said Marwan Hachem, co-founder and group chief executive of YAP, “The interest that we have received from investors shows that there is a strong demand for FinTech products.”

Demand for digital payments and other FinTech services has grown due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, as more people use online banking services to transfer money and pay for e-commerce transactions.

FinTech funding worldwide surged 68 per cent annually to $210 billion in 2021, a report by consultancy KPMG showed in March.

A record 5,684 deals were signed through mergers and acquisitions, private equity and venture capital last year, the report found. The payments segment continued to attract the lion’s share of funding among FinTech subsectors, accounting for $51.7bn in investments globally.

Investment in FinTech companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa stood at $77.4bn from 1,859 deals last year, KPMG said.

More than 800 FinTech companies operating in different segments such as payments, InsureTech and cyber security across the Middle East are expected to raise more than $2bn in venture capital funding this year to boost their growth, Dubai bank Mashreq said in February, citing data from the Middle East Institute.

YAP, which can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices, provides spending analytics, card controls, money transfer and bill payment service, real-time notifications of purchases, withdrawals and transfers, the statement said.

The digital banking app, which does not require a minimum balance and salary transfer requirement, also offers a virtual card for online shopping.

“We look forward to expanding into new markets and enhancing our offering in the months ahead with these investments,” said Anas Zaidan, co-founder and managing director of YAP.

The FinTech platform has partnered with Bank AlJazira to launch its consumer and business banking platforms in Saudi Arabia. YAP ties up with banking partners to provide IBAN sponsorship for users, the statement added.

YAP’s product development pipeline includes a multicurrency offering, products for children and households, equity trading, loans and buy-now-pay-later products.

Support from government-backed entities in the UAE has proved crucial for local FinTech start-ups.

The Dubai International Financial Centre Innovation Hub, which is the largest cluster of FinTech and innovation companies in the region, allocated about $100m to help start-ups to grow through its FinTech Fund accelerator programme.

The DIFC’s FinTech Hive has been connecting with investors and industry experts to seek funding.

Last October, the Central Bank of the UAE also signed an agreement with the DIFC to enhance collaboration under their shared sandbox programme for FinTechs.