Investments

Dubai’s Now Money raises $7 million to expand its digital banking solution for unbanked workers across GCC

Dubai-based fintech Now Money has raised $7 million in a fund round led by Anthemis Exponential Ventures, it announced today. The round was also joined by Knuru Capital, Wamda, Commercial Bank of Dubai, DIFC FinTech Fund, Accion Venture Lab, Greenhouse Capital, and Hambro Perks’ Oryx Fund.

Founded in 2016 by Ian Dillon and Katharine Budd, Now Money provides digital accounts to offer low-cost remittance and other financial services to migrant workers in Gulf. The startup partners with businesses to provide their low-income employees with a Visa debit card and Now Money’s mobile app, which they can use to access different financial services including mobile top-ups, bill payments, and remittances.

The businesses get a digital payroll solution that they can use to transfer the salaries (and rewards) of their workforce workers in an easy manner. Now Money also offers help with onboarding through training sessions for the workers.

Currently available in the United Arab Emirates, the startup plans to use the latest funds to expand to Saudi. The investment will also be used to further develop its services and continue the growth in the UAE.

Ian Dillon, the co-founder of Now Money, said, “This funding is a significant milestone for Now Money. We are eager to build on our progress to date and realize 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 caliber Western and Middle Eastern funds. Two of our key partners, Commercial Bank of Dubai and Visa, have also played a critical role,” he added.

Now Pay in a statement said that the engagement of its users with the app doubled in 2020 as the users turned to digital solutions due to Covid-19, “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,” noted Now Money’s co-founder Katherine Budd.

The outward remittances is a big business in the Gulf with expats sending tens of billions of dollars every year back to their countries through different channels. The majority used to rely on offline money transfer services but things are starting to change with different startups, banks and even telecom companies invest in digital solutions to offer these services. Stc Pay in Saudi is the most notable one that received a $200 million investment from Western Union late last year.

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.”

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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