Visa had announced the first edition of its Everywhere Initiative for MENA region earlier this year. As explained by Visa, the program is designed to encourage the development “next big thing” in payments from the region.
The company had invited startups from MENA & Pakistan to apply for the initiative for three different real-life challenges. After receiving applications from 190 startups, Visa shortlisted 13 startups who pitched during the ongoing GITEX Technology Week yesterday. A winner for every track was selected with each of them winning up to $25,000 and an overall winner was selected to receive an additional $25,000. Here are the details of tracks and winners. to select three winners for three different tracks.
Acceptance Challenge – Winner: Qpal from UAE
The acceptance challenge was about startups leveraging Visa Developer APIs for enabling smaller merchants to accept payment in-store digitally or providing a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive ecommerce and reduce cash on delivery.
Qpal, a startup that seems to have started from United Kingdom and has now made in5 Innovation Center in Dubai its home, was declared the winner of acceptance challenge. Founded by Craig Buchan in 2015, Qpal has developed a mobile payment solution for the live events industry to offer a completely cashless event experience. With its solution, the startup aims to guarantee smoother payments that will eventually improve event experiences for both sides, organizers and attendees. Qpal helps the organizers reduce queue time and increase event revenue with cashless transactions throughout the events. The platform is also a source of event data intelligence for the organizers. They were also declared the overall winner, winning a total of $50,000 from Visa.
Airport Transit Challenge – Winner: Swvl from Egypt
The second challenge for startups was to leverage the Visa Developer APIs, mobile technologies and connected devices to transform transit experience at the airports.
Swvl, the transportation startup from Egypt that made headlines earlier this year for securing $500,000 as investment from Careem, won the Airport Transit Challenge. Co-founded by Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah, and Mahmoud Nouh earlier this year, Swvl is a public transportation startup that connects commuters with private buses and allows them to reserve seats on these buses and pay the fare through company’s mobile apps. The startup was very recently selected by Forbes Middle East as one of the Top 50 Arab Startups to Watch in the Arab World. Swvl went home with the prize of $25,000.
Loyalty Challenge – Winner: Bebuzzd from UAE
With the loyalty challenge, Visa was looking for startups that can make it easier for consumer to select the right Visa card for their purchases and be notified about the Visa offers and benefits at the right time.
Dubai-based Bebuzzd was declared the winner of this challenge, winning $25,000. Co-founded by Abdul Nazeer & Shan Salam, it’s is a loyalty program marketplace for users and customer engagement and acquisition platform businesses. Bebuzzd with its digital system aims to replace obsolete old-fashioned loyalty programs. The startup helps both small and large businesses design customized loyalty systems that fit the needs of a particular business. Their platform also offers businesses with different analytics that can help them understand customer behavior and preferences.
Some other startups that made it to final thirteen included WideBot, Rakna, and VRteek from Egypt; and Sippy from UAE.
Update – Oct 12: A previous version of this article said that the prize won by Swvl & Bebuzzd is $20,000. It’s actually $25,000. We have fixed the error.