Riyadh-based fintech Hakbah has raised $1.2 million in a seed round, it announced in a statement to MENAbytes today. The startup did not disclose the names of investors but told MENAbytes that multiple angels and an investment firm took part in the deal.
Founded in late 2018 by Naif AbuSaida, Hakbah is building an alternative savings platform. Its first product is a savings groups mobile app that enables users to initiate, manage, join, and pay for the savings groups (aka money circles, ROSCA, and jamiya). The Saudi startup had received approval from Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) last year to test its product in its regulatory sandbox.
The app can be used to create new savings groups or join the existing ones on the platform. The users can pay their installments when they join a group by using their (Mada) debit card on the app and withdraw the money to their bank account whenever it’s their turn to receive the pool.
Savings groups, like different other parts of the world, are also popular among Saudis, and expats living in the Kingdom. Hakbah is digitizing them through its platform. It estimates that savings is a $6 billion (annual) market in Saudi and that is the market it is going after. The concept has also gained traction in some other markets of the region with players like MoneyFellows, ElGameya, and Oraan, working on similar platforms in Egypt & Pakistan.
Hakbah has recently also signed a partnership with Visa that will allow it to issue Visa prepaid cards to its customers. It plans to use the funds to further develop its product, expand its team, and grow its user base to 25,000 in the next few months.
The last two weeks have been very busy for fintech in the region with Rain, Tamara, and Ziina raising funds – and now Hakbah also joining them. As many observers of the ecosystem have already pointed out, it looks like 2021 is going to be a year of fintech across different markets in the region.