UAE-based fintech NOW Money secures $7m to expand digital banking solution

UAE-based fintech NOW Money secures $7m to expand digital banking solution

NOW Money, the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) first digital banking solution for low-income migrant workers, has secured $7m in a funding round led by venture investor, Anthemis Exponential Ventures.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Anthemis Exponential Ventures was joined by a consortium of investors including Knuru Capital, Wamda, Commercial Bank of Dubai, DIFC FinTech Fund, Accion Venture Lab, Greenhouse Capital and Hambro Perks Oryx Fund, amongst others. NOW Money also received supporting funding from Expo 2020 and card scheme, Visa.

The funding raised by NOW Money is the most significant, multinational fintech deal to date in the Middle East.

The cash injection will initially be used to drive NOW Money in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, beginning with strategic new hires and local infrastructure in Riyadh. In addition, the funding will enable NOW Money to develop its service offering and enable it to continue its exponential growth in the UAE.

Founded in 2016, NOW Money is the first fintech company in the Gulf to use mobile banking technology to provide accounts, low-cost remittance, and other financial services to migrant workers.

Co-Founder of NOW Money, Ian Dillon, said, “This funding is a significant milestone for NOW Money. We are eager to build on our progress to date and realise our vision of creating a world where everyone has instant access to financial services they can, and want, to use. The investment has brought us the financial support needed to scale our expansion plans across the GCC, as well as strategic value and partnerships from each of our investors.

“There is no venture capital better placed than Anthemis Exponential Ventures to have led this deal, especially alongside other such high calibre Western and Middle Eastern funds. Two of our key partners, Commercial Bank of Dubai and Visa, have also played a critical role.”

The deal was led by Vica Manos of Anthemis Group, the world’s leading fintech investor, committed to cultivating change in the financial system.

Vica Manos, Partner at Anthemis Group, said, “One of the most impactful actions a company can take is to provide fair and sustainable access to finance, and NOW Money does exactly that. By opening up financial services to some of the most deeply left-out individuals, we’re confident that Katharine, Ian and the rest of the team can achieve genuine impact, changing the face of financial services in a region that right now is showing tremendous promise.”

Alain Dib, CEO of Knuru Capital said, “We were impressed by how NOW Money has solved many challenges and pain points, working with numerous stakeholders and partners to now be in a position to scale dramatically and bank millions of unbanked. We are very excited to be part of the journey.”

NOW Money partners with businesses to provide an end-to-end digital payroll solution. Every company has access to a unique payroll portal – a hassle-free way to transfer employee salaries and other financial-based rewards – and every employee is issued with a contactless-enabled Visa card and receives their salary directly into the NOW Money app. NOW Money gives all customers in-app access to low-cost financial services including mobile top-up, bill pay and remittance, the latter of which enables a quick, safe and cost-effective way to remit money overseas.

Katharine Budd, co-founder of NOW Money, said, “When we started NOW Money in 2016, our mission was clear; simplify the world’s financial services. Initially, we were met with skepticism about a digital financial service, but the success of mobile money in South and East Asia gave us faith that mobile banking would be a sustainable solution for the millions of people who find themselves overlooked by traditional Middle Eastern banking options. We are excited to expand our team and build our customer and partnership base to truly democratise financial services and make money easy, for everyone, every day.”

“In 2020, engagement with the NOW Money app doubled as our customers sought to make use of online services like remittances, in-app purchases and transactions. The restriction of movement forced upon the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital as consumers’ transaction channel of choice and these habits are likely to remain ingrained long after Coronavirus. For financial services it has proven that digital solutions are more than a luxury, they are an urgent necessity.”