5 Fintech Startups To Keep On Your Radar

Monica Elias, Mar 27 2018

Arabnet regularly brings you a list of top MENA startups to look out for. In this post, we have selected a diverse range of fintech startups that include everything from P2P financing, to financial management, to cryptocurrencies, and more. 



Ramil Maharramov and Jafar Babayev founded Maliyya, a UAE-based Sharia compliant P2P financing and investment marketplace for all UAE residents. The platform was built as a solution to the high number of Muslims that do not have access to modern finance services and to provide a platform where people who have savings i.e. investors are linked with people who need financing i.e. borrowers. Currently, Maliyya has an Ijara (rent) project enabling investors and borrowers to invest in and finance both real estate and personal vehicles.

Investors and borrowers register themselves on the website by filling the respective application and submitting the required documents. Investors pass Maliyya’s clearance in terms of risk management and AML (anti-money laundering). The identity of the borrower is reviewed along with their credit profiles and posted on the platform. Investors can select the borrower that best matches their risk demand, and borrowers can select the investor that best suits their needs.

As per the Ijara project, once funds are collected by the borrower from the investor, they could be used to either purchase a car or an apartment. Investors receive their monthly repayments through the bank. Maliyya’s platform provides both the investor and borrower with lower costs of investment, higher profits, additional investments and borrowing tools, and a larger pool of investors and borrowers.

In March of this year, Maliyya closed the first seed investment round of $1.3M from Ground1 Ventures. A month prior to that, Maliyya was qualified along with 5 other startups to participate in the Cloud10 Scalerator Program of C5 Accelerate in Bahrain. Maliyya was also among the 12 participants of the Middle East Financial Health Competition in December 2017. In August of 2017, Maliyya graduated from the accelerator program Fintech Hive at DIFC. Maliyya is now in Bahrain and hopes to expand to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Beehive and Liwwa are two startups that are among Maliyya’s competitors.

Country: UAE
Launched: 2017
Category: Retail Financial Services





Based in Lebanon and founded in 2016 by Joey Zeeny and Teddy Zeeny, Jellyfish is an accounting and budgeting tool that helps teams collaborate in managing and tracking project financials across portfolios, programs, locations, themes, sectors, and offices. Project managers can use it to track, add, and update expenses in real time using pre-defined budget lines. Thus, it saves time, secures more income, increases accuracy, and allows for anticipation. Jellyfish was brought to life in hope of helping project managers form data-driven decisions concerning their spending whenever needed.

Team members can be invited into the platform to submit expenses allowing project managers to easily view, organize, and compare budgets. Also, managers, board members, investors, or donors can directly be invited into any Jellyfish project eliminating the hassle of sending and receiving emails of the reports every time anything is added. Thus, this centralizes everything in one platform allowing them to check the financial status whenever needed, and if they prefer an email with the reports, it could be sent with only one click. Having several projects is never a problem because each project can be assigned a label to easily manage and track it. In addition, Jellyfish can also give accountants access to the project’s account where they can easily download a CSV file to import into their accounting system of choice.

In April 2016, Jellyfish received $30K in seed funding from Speed@BDD during its second cycle of acceleration. Earlier that year, along with 10 other participants, the startup was selected to pitch its platform in Seedstars Beirut. Jellyfish was also among the finalists for the ArabNet Beirut 2016 Startup Demo. Jellyfish charges a certain amount depending on the number of projects each NGO is managing on both a monthly and annual basis.

Country: Lebanon
Launched: 2016
Category: Personal Finance Management



One Gram

OneGram, launched by Ibrahim Mohammad in 2017, is a new cryptocurrency that uses blockchain technology, is backed by a minimum of one gram of gold, is sharia-compliant and is adapted for the Islamic Financial Markets. With the rise of cryptocurrency arose several limitations that have discouraged mainstream use, in particular, high volatility and barriers to entry and exit. For that reason, OneGram came to life to solve such problems by creating a business ecosystem to solve the entry and exit issue and by backing each coin/token by gold to address the volatility issue.

From May till September of 2017, OneGram’s 12,400,786 tokens went on sale at their Initial Coin Offering (ICO) which were available for purchasing through their partner GoldGuard - the source of gold. After the coin launch, anyone is able to buy and sell OneGram coins/tokens (OGC) freely through many international channels. The more transactions, the more gold is added to the vault where all OGC owners share in the profit by an uplift in the value of each unit. OGCs are durable and can be kept safely in a cryptographically secure wallet. Once the ICO was closed, OneGram started a global resale program where people can sell their tokens to others.

Currently, OneGram has about 100,000 members within their network. This number is constantly growing with the opening of new markets in different countries that are 17 to date. Each OneGram transaction generates a one percent transaction fee, up to a maximum of one OGC. OneGram will launch ‘Huulk’ which will be their exchange and trading platform for digital tokens. It anticipates that Huulk will become within the top 5 global exchanges very quickly. In addition to that, OneGram is also working on payment processing solutions and debit cards so that it can be accepted in live time with retailers through the use of YallaPay and Flib.

Country: UAE
Launched: 2017
Category: Cryptocurrency





Yasmine Khan is the founder and CEO of eFatoora, launched last year in UAE. eFatoora is a mobile app that replaces paper receipts with digital ones ensuring less papers produced to attain Dubai’s 2021 vision. eFatoora is committed to making this world a healthier, sustainable and an eco-friendlier place by providing their customers with a paperless solution to practice green living.

eFatoora does not replace the payment method between retailers and customers; it rather replaces the receipt received from stores with digital ones through a QR code that is scanned on a mobile. The app will never ask its users to register bank or credit card details removing the risk of fraudulent transactions and making it safe for the consumer. This will help users manage and use their receipt whenever and wherever needed such as to exchange or return a product, remove taxes for tourists, etc. In this way, the platform acts as a place that holds on to all your receipts so that no one will ever lose one again.

Recently, Carmatec, a multinational digital transformation business, signed a partnership agreement with eFatoora to break new grounds in digital technology. In 2017, eFatoora participated in Gitex Future Stars and was among the top 10 startups. eFatoora has solely been funded by its founder and CEO. eFatoora aims at engaging and educating the community by utilizing and developing smart solutions for receipts as a way of eliminating the use of papers.

Country: UAE
Launched: 2017
Category: Personal Finance Management






Risk+ Solutions was founded by Jad G. Doumith and Chadi G. El Nawar in Lebanon in January 2017 after noticing the lack of end-to-end integrated risk management solutions in the market. The startup is specialized in developing and implementing end-to-end risk management and financial intelligence solutions. Their vision is to move risk management from a regulatory constraint to a strategy enabler. Its services will help banks benefit through the integration of solutions, proactive management, regulatory compliance, and knowledge transfer.

The startup offers fully integrated IT solutions that cover performance management, balance sheets and capital optimization as well as comprehensive stress testing tools thus helping their clients make informed decisions when it comes to taking risks. Their solutions include aiding banks through capturing and calculating all associated risks and costs, and helping them swiftly access their data and unlock value through analytical capabilities. As for capability building, comprehensive and targeted training sessions are offered that cater to all seniority levels and cover all topics related to the provided tools. Risk+ Solutions also offer in class risk management advisory to ensure their tools embed the industry’s methodologies, latest regulations and business requirements.

A year ago, Risk+ Solutions raised $1.45M from Phoenician Funds I. Subsequently, Phoenician Funds I acquired a strategic position in the company. The startup was recently nominated between the top 100 start-ups in the Arab World by Forbes Middle East. Within just one year of establishment, Risk+ Solutions was able to sell their product to 5 Lebanese banks. Currently, Risk+ Solutions’ focus is leveraging the Lebanese market, and once they have their track record ready, they will tap into the GCC and MENA markets by mid-2018.

Country: Lebanon
Launched: 2017
Category: Wealth Management 


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