Tag: mobile technology

Bahrain Welcomes First Two Entrants into Regulatory Sandbox

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London based Tramonex and Dubai firm NOW Money set to expand to Bahrain as global fintech investment market hits $3.2 billion in Q1 2017

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has announced two entrants into its regulatory sandbox. Tramonex, a London-based forex cash management solution for businesses; and NOW Money, the Dubai-based account and remittance service for low-income workers in the GCC.

Launched in June, the Bahrain regulatory sandbox provides a virtual space for companies to test their financial technology based solutions, and is open to existing CBB licensees and other local and foreign firms. By offering firms an opportunity for expansion and innovation, the framework is expected to help boost fintech businesses around the globe and consolidate Bahrain’s position as a fintech and financial services hub.

For companies dealing in multiple currencies, Tramonex offers an efficient, quick and cheaper way of processing and transferring funds at your fingertips. The start-up focuses on facilitating conversion and settlement services to automate cross border transactions, and provides competitive services.

NOW Money is the first fintech company in the Gulf region to use mobile banking technology to provide accounts, financial inclusion and a range of low-cost remittance options to low-income workers. It aims to provide access to affordable financial services for everyone.

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) assisted and advised Tramonex and NOW Money in registering for the regulatory sandbox.

Khalid Hamad, Executive Director of Banking Supervision at CBB, said: “We are pleased to welcome the first two entrants into the regulatory sandbox, in the early stages of the framework’s launch. This initiative highlights the CBB’s continuous efforts as the Kingdom’s single regulator to update and develop the fintech ecosystem and enable industry players to create innovative and forward-looking fintech products while maintaining the overall safety and soundness of the financial system.”

H.E. Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of Bahrain EDB, said: “This announcement is a testament to Bahrain’s attractive investment proposition in the Gulf. Bahrain is a great testbed for innovative products in this space due to its size and easy market access to the GCC.

“The Kingdom is ready to be at the forefront of financial innovation and technology as global fintech investment reaches $3.2 billion. In addition to the development of the regulatory sandbox, we have a number of further initiatives we expect to be launched in the coming months including a venture capital fund-of-funds. We are seeing real signs of momentum in the sector and are excited by the potential it will bring.”

Earlier this year, the CBB issued the Regulatory Sandbox Framework directive, which includes the eligibility criteria, filing requirements and timeline for the process. This may be found on Bahrain Startup website (www.startup.bh) and CBB’s website on the following link: http://www.cbb.gov.bh/page-p-regulatory_sandbox_en.htm.

UAE-Based Fintech Start-Up Secures $700K Investment to Advance Financial Services Access for Underserved Migrant Workers

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NOW Money has secured an investment of $700,000 from two U.S.-based venture capital investors – Accion Venture Lab, the seed-stage investment initiative of financial inclusion leader Accion, and Newid Capital.

Both Accion Venture Lab and Newid Capital make investments that target the financially underserved.  Venture Lab invests capital in, and provides support to, innovative fintech start-ups that increase access to, improve the quality of, or reduce the cost of financial services for the underserved at scale. Newid Capital focuses on such investments outside of North America and Western Europe.

NOW Money uses mobile banking technology to provide accounts, financial inclusion and a range of low-cost remittance options to low-income migrant workers in the Gulf region. It aims to provide access to affordable financial services for everyone.

The investment comes a year after NOW Money’s initial seed funding, which allowed the company to expand the team and develop the technology and brand. With the latest investment, also a part of its seed round, the team plans to launch the service across the United Arab Emirates and expand into the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Co-founder of NOW Money, Ian Dillon said, “Having what’s understood to be the first early stage investment from U.S. venture capital into the Middle East is testament to the opportunities available here and how far the GCC has come in making itself a destination for investment. We hope this will be the first of many U.S. venture capital investments in the region, and will help to grow the ecosystem further.”

“We’re excited to be making such a big social impact in the region. Accion is one of the leading global institutions promoting financial inclusion, and Newid Capital was co-founded by Nigel Morris, who previously co-founded Capital One Financial Services. We’re excited to be working with them to bring financial inclusion to the 26 million unbanked in the GCC,” he added.

“Each year, migrant workers contribute more than $400 billion to their home economies, and the United Arab Emiratesis among the top remittance-sending countries in the world,” said Michael Schlein, CEO and President of Accion. “NOW Money’s innovative approach and digital platform provide a faster and safer option for these workers to support their families and communities.”

“Our partnership with NOW Money marks a number of firsts for Accion Venture Lab – our first investment in the Middle East region, our first investment into a wholly-digital neobank, and our first opportunity to focus on reaching low-income migrant workers,” added Amee Parbhoo, Director of Investments at Accion Venture Lab. “As we reach this new group of financially underserved individuals, we’ll look to apply our learnings to Venture Lab’s work around the world.”

In the last 12 months, NOW Money has won six awards, including Chivas’ “The Venture” for the Gulf region. The co-founders Katharine Budd and Ian Dillon speak regularly at fintech events, such as Payfort and Wamda’s State of Fintech report, and are featured regularly in publications such as Entrepreneur Middle East and on the Dubai Eye radio station.

About NOW Money

NOW uses mobile banking technology to provide accounts, financial inclusion and a range of low-cost remittance options to low-income migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, improving their lives and saving them and their families significant money, in a profitable and sustainable manner.

About Accion Venture Lab

Accion Venture Lab is the world’s leading seed-stage investor in fintech for the underserved. Venture Lab invests capital in, and provides support to, innovative fintech start-ups that increase access to, improve the quality of, or reduce the cost of financial services for the underserved at scale. Since launching in 2012, Venture Lab has deployed over US$10 millionacross more than 25 start-ups that work in over 20 countries worldwide. Venture Lab is a part of Accion, a global non-profit committed to creating a financially inclusive world, with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. Accion catalyzes financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions at scale for the three billion people who are left out of – or poorly served by –  the financial sector. For more than 50 years, Accion has helped tens of millions of people through its work with more than 90 partners in 40 countries. For further information, visit https://www.accion.org/venturelab.

About Newid Capital

Newid Capital is a direct-investment fund focused on financial services and financial technology companies in developing markets. Through its investments, Newid Capital aims to expand financial services to currently underserved markets and individuals. Newid actively seeks early- and mid-stage start-ups that are looking for investment and operational assistance. Newid is able to leverage personal experience in building, and exiting, financial services companies from the viewpoint of both the entrepreneur and the investor.

NOW Money wins Chivas Regal’s social start-up competition

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NOW Money has won the Gulf regional final of Chivas The Venture, a global search to find and support the next generation of start-ups that want to succeed while creating a better future for society, after both co-founders, Ian Dillon and Katharine Budd, presented a winning pitch to a panel of five judges.

The competition, which was hosted at the Marina Social, Intercontinental Dubai Marina in Dubai on 18th January 2017, invited four social start-up enterprises to pitch their business and the positive social impact it will have on society.

NOW was selected as the winner based not only on its ability to improve the lives of 26 million low-income migrant workers in the GCC countries by including them in the financial system, but it’s on its scalability too. The judges were impressed that NOW can provide the opportunity to create an inclusive financial ecosystem on a national, regional and global level and also combat financial crime.

NOW will represent The Gulf in the upcoming Chivas The Venture global final in Los Angeles in July 2017. The 30 finalists from across six continents will have a chance to pitch for a share of a $1 million fund in front of an expert panel of judges who are looking for businesses that can offer scalable and sustainable solutions to real world issues.

The company has also won a place at Chivas The Venture’s Accelerator Week, in Oxford, UK, where they will receive world-class mentorship and support in preparation for the global final of the competition.

“We are so proud to have been part of this competition which recognises companies who strive to create social change, and to win the Gulf regional final is just fantastic”, said Mr Dillon. “It’s been such a journey to get to this stage, and we’re looking forward to the next six months as part of The Venture programme with an enormous sense of anticipation, excitement and confidence. We are the only company whose sole purpose is to stamp out financial exclusion, and the funding that we could receive from this opportunity could be a real game changer.”

Commenting on the judges’ decision to award the title to NOW, Gaurav Sabharwal, Managing Director, Pernod Ricard Gulf, and head of the judging panel commented:

“This year’s final delivered a very exciting and informative day of competition. Our four finalists represented four very different businesses, but they all shared a common theme – that of making a social impact. However, our decision to choose NOW was unanimous. Their business can positively benefit the lives of literally millions of people and can be replicated geographically, quickly and cheaply.The potential social impact is astounding. We believe NOW is a worthy winner capable of representing the region on a global stage and competing strongly for its share of The Venture’s US$1m global social enterprise fund.”

NOW uses mobile banking technology to provide accounts, financial inclusion and a range of low-cost remittance options to low-income migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, improving their lives and saving them and their families significant money, in a profitable and sustainable manner.