Saudi’s Merit raises $12 million pre-Series B for its customer rewards and engagement platform

Riyadh-headquartered rewards and engagement platform Merit has raised $12 million in an ‘oversubscribed’ pre-Series B round led by The Saudi Investment Bank’s investment arm Alistithmar Capital i-Cap, and joined by existing investors; Saudi’s Tech Invest Com and Hambro Perks Oryx Fund, it announced today in a statement to MENAbytes. The startup originally planned to raise $5 million.

“SAIB funding into Merit is the first investment of the newly launched SAIB Venture Studio, which has been set up to launch new initiatives for customers in technology and financial technologies, leveraging SAIB’s capabilities,” noted the statement.

Founded in 2016 by Julie Barbier-Leblan, Merit owns and operates different online platforms, providing businesses with gifting, rewards, and engagement solutions for both customers and employees. Started in Dubai, Merit moved its headquarters to Riyadh in 2023.

The flagship product of Merit is a white-labeled loyalty and rewards marketplace that enterprises can use to set up rewards and incentive programs for their customers and employees. The businesses can customize the marketplace according to their brand, enabling end-users to purchase rewards and incentives using points and/or cash.

Merit has over 6,000 retail and service partners from more than 100 countries to offer rewards and incentives from different industries and categories, including hospitality, retail, travel, health, and more.

The startup also runs Rewardsby, a SaaS platform that allows businesses to access, buy and send rewards to their customers or employees, for a monthly fee. In addition to the price of the reward or gift being sent, Rewardsby also charges a 3 percent processing fee.

Another platform operated by Merit is GiftCardsBy. It enables online and offline businesses to sell gift cards to their customers. The businesses can design their gift card and set up the gift card website using the platform. It serves as a tool to help businesses increase their revenue. GiftCardsBy can be used for a monthly fee starting from $25.

Merit uses its large network of partners to serve consumers directly as well, with GiftiGlobal, which enables anyone to buy a gift card for themselves or someone else. There are over 4,000 online gift cards available on the platform. Some of the options for the UAE, for example, include Ikea, Danube, Al Nahdi Pharmacy, Noon, Talabat, Anghami, etc.

The Dubai-born startup claims to have over 1,000 clients using its products and services. In a statement, it said that it grew its user base by over 80 percent in 2023, and its overall business by 60 percent. Merit said that it distributed over a million rewards and gifts in 2023, in Saudi Arabia, alone.

Julie Barbier-Leblan, the founder and CEO of Merit, said, “We are feeling optimistic about our progress on both international and regional fronts. As we look ahead, we have exciting objectives on the horizon for the coming years. Our increased involvement in Saudi Arabia’s tech innovation ecosystem is something we are particularly pleased about. Looking forward, we anticipate a busy year ahead as we prepare to launch strategic projects. We recognize the immense market opportunity that awaits us, and we’re confident that our proprietary engagement solutions will meet the needs of our users.”

Faisal Al-Omran, the CEO of The Saudi Investment Bank said, “This strategic collaboration with Merit aims to launch innovative digital solutions to the market. It comes as an outcome of the untiring efforts by SAIB Venture Studio, to invest in innovative technologies and fintech companies, and launch a stream of initiatives in fintech and loyalty programs.”

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