UAE startup Appro launches to streamline and simplify retail banking application processes
SC Ventures has announced the launch of Appro, a UAE-headquartered fintech startup that digitises, streamlines and simplifies the retail banking user journey. Backed by SC Ventures, Standard Chartered’s innovation, fintech investment and ventures arm, the bank-agnostic platform aims to reduce the time taken to complete the application processes for retail banking products – such as credit cards and personal loans – from several hours to just three minutes.
Appro brings to market a solution that significantly simplifies the application and onboarding process for customers, requiring them to complete just a single application per product. After capturing the required background information and preferences from each customer via their application, these data points are then shared securely with all participating banks, allowing them to qualify customers and in turn, recommend their most relevant products for each customer. The platform then collates the best product offerings for each customer and ranks them using a unique algorithm based on the customer’s indicated preferences, enabling an easier as well as more informed and intelligent decision-making process.
At the same time, the participating banks receive the pre-processed applications for each qualified customer, which already include the outcomes of all necessary bank on-boarding activities, such as Know Your Customer, customer due diligence, credit worthiness assessments and fraud checks.
The idea for Appro was founded by three employees – Iftekhar Salim, Tarek Osman and Antofelix Rajan – who were previously retail bankers at Standard Chartered and understood the pain points customers often experienced during the lengthy and cumbersome onboarding process for retail banking products in the UAE. The fintech was then incubated at SC Ventures, with early-stage investment on three occasions.
“Our goal is to bridge the gap between customers looking to find the best deals in town and banks’ concerted efforts to be positioned as a superior service provider,” said Iftekhar Salim, CEO of Appro. “When we developed our first solution to this end as part of an internal retail banking challenge facilitated by SC Ventures in 2019, we managed to reduce turnaround time for mortgage pre-approval letter issuance from six days to a mere 45 minutes. We saw our mortgage booking volume jump significantly and this really validated the market appetite we had only surmised up to this point. It drove us to see what else we could build to better serve both customers’ and banks’ needs in the retail banking space.”
Appro’s platform launches in the UAE with applications for credit cards and personal loans, and looks to expand its offerings to include mortgage loans and auto (car) loans, as well as current and saving accounts and wealth management products in 2023. It will also introduce the option for banks to instantly process their own self-generated leads by embedding Appro into their existing websites and/or applications. The fintech plans to scale across the wider Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), followed by markets in the Asia Pacific including Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, and India.
Mohamed Abdel Razek, one of the Board of Directors at Appro and Chief Technology & Operations Officer, Africa & Middle East, Standard Chartered, added, “What started as an idea in 2020 and took just over a year to develop is now ready to hit the market with four participating banks. We are very proud to have had a front row seat to the building of this much needed platform which we are confident is going to make waves in the region – and beyond.”