RIYADH: Expense management fintech platform NQOODLET has won the the Saudi Arabian heat of the 2022 Visa Everywhere Initiative finals, the global innovation competition for startups and fintech companies.
For claiming the first place, NQOODLET won SR200,000 ($53,000) and will represent Saudi Arabia at the regional finals in the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa which will be held on June 17.
Founded in 2021, NQOODLET provides a digital platform for small and medium enterprises to manage their expenses, purchases, and register bills directly through corporate cards.
The Visa Everywhere Initiative — Launched in 2015 — is a global, open innovation program that tasks start-ups and fintechs to solve payment and commerce challenges to further enhance their own product propositions.
Dubai Blockchain Center to create metaverse for digital economy taskforce
Updated 8 sec ago
DUBAI: Dubai Blockchain Center, a leading blockchain advocate and strategic partner to government agency Dubai Future Foundation, is planning to create a metaverse for the government task force impaneled to develop and oversee the digital economy policies in the region.
Speaking on the sidelines of the DIFC Fintech Week in Dubai, DBCC CEO Marwan Al-Zarouni told Arab News that it plans to create a virtual platform that will host all upcoming events of the task force related to supervising technological developments in the digital economy.
“Dubai is creating a task force for the digital economy, and one of its priorities is to create a metaverse for that task force,” said Al-Zarouni.
The company has also set off an educational drive to inform and acquaint potential investors about the opportunities around the blockchain ecosystem in the region.
“We are offering freemium content to schools and universities. The advance classes will, however, have to be paid for,” said Al-Zarouni.
He added: “We also educate government departments that want to invest in this space. The basic advice for government departments is free.”
Al-Zarouni also signed up as an adviser with the Rare Antiquities Project, a platform that aims to bring cryptocurrency into the museum, galleries, and heritage sector.
Its currency, also known as Rare Antiquities Token, allows its holder to purchase antiques using non-fungible tokens.
Dubai is creating a task force for the digital economy.
DBCC CEO Marwan Al-Zarouni
RAT holders can enter museums, and their admission cost will be automatically restored to their RAT wallet, making the admission free.
The company has been investing outside the UAE in multiple crypto funds through token allocations.
“We have worked with the Future Blockchain Summit and conducted several virtual summits. In addition to Dubai, we have worked with other countries such as Italy, Australia and Gibraltar,” added Al-Zarouni.
The UAE has been the destination of choice for cryptocurrency, with several top companies based in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Turkey relocating their businesses to Dubai.
According to Al-Zarouni, some of the emerging sectors in the region include game development, 3D building and e-sports.
“Dubai is becoming a melting pot for these crypto and blockchain projects and a haven for investors who want to invest in this space.”
In addition to locating their businesses in Dubai, the DBCC offers investors the opportunity to partner with like-minded individuals globally, he said.
One of the companies that DBCC provided services for was Biconomy, which is now listed on many exchanges, including Binance, he said.
Speaking on the market and its downfall, Al-Zarouni said that the market downturn is healthy because it is cyclical. However, it is hard to raise funds during such a period. “But it is okay to build,” he added.
Buy now, pay later — the most preferred payment in the region: Fintech panel
Updated 8 min 39 sec ago
Dana Alomar Nirmal Naryanan
DUBAI: Buy now, pay later, a financing option that allows customers to pay flexibly, has become the preferred mode of payment in the region, said top fintech players.
Speaking at a panel discussion on the BNPL evolution at the DIFC Fintech Week from June 28 to 29, the industry leaders pointed out how the finance option revolutionized the fintech industry.
The leaders present during the panel discussion were CEO Tamara Abdulmajeed Al-Sukhan, CEO Tabby Hosam Arab, Srinath Hariharan, head of product management, Amazon Payment Services; and Melissa Guzy, co-founder, Arbor Ventures.
During the discussion, Al-Sukhan said that Tamara is not just a BNPL product or a silent banking solution; instead, it always stands for its customers and serves them when they need help.
For his part, Arab said that there is a lot of work to be done beyond just building a tech solution on checkout. Arab added that mass adoption is a success factor as there is apparent adoption on both the consumer and provider’s sides.
“We make our money from the merchants that we work with. However, getting a business that sustains itself and can build real value for investors and stakeholders is the hard part,” Arab further noted.
Hariharan explained that BNPL is not a one-size fit for all products.
Guzy said that BNPL is a category that is quite different worldwide and cautioned that start-ups that think they will raise money in the next few months would be disappointed.
Guzy revealed that hiring the right talent in the fintech sector is a pretty tricky task, and entrepreneurs should be creative and strategic during the hiring process due to the shortage of professional skills.
Tabby’s Arab, however, noted that the company is looking for fresh graduates to enhance local fintech.
During the discussion, Al-Sukhan noted that Tamara had hired people from worldwide.
Hariharan said that in terms of talent acquisition and retention, people relate growth with vertical growth. “One aspect is how do you ensure there is sustainable career growth?” he asked, adding that “another aspect is balance and work-life harmony.”
Talking about the risks, Al-Sukhan said that Tamara has a full risk assessment team other than the data team.
“With the data we have, we reroute ourselves, and we make sure that we are not underwriting like six months ago,” added Sukhan.
Arab commented that Tabby took a different approach by not chasing growth to avoid risks.
“Our customers are largely debit card consumers,” he added.
The way ahead
With regard to future plans, Hariharan said that Amazon Payment Services is engaging in multiple sectors and curating multiple experiences for merchants and customers.
Tabby, on the other hand, is investing quite deeply in virtual cards that customers can use offline to purchase at stores.
Standard Chartered launches API platform in Saudi Arabia
Updated 16 min 41 sec ago
RIYADH: Standard Chartered Bank Saudi Arabia has launched an application programming interface to ensure data security in real time.
Through this new interface, clients and partners will be able to share and integrate data securely, said a statement issued on Tuesday.
In line with Saudi Vision 2030 and the country’s aim to become a regional digital hub, businesses across any industry in the Kingdom will now be able to connect to a host of new capabilities.
This includes digitizing treasury, integration of banking capabilities into ERP operations, implementing digital business models, process automation, automated reconciliation and enabling point-to-point integration.
“The launch of our application programming interface/ API accelerates a new era of financial innovation and plays a pivotal role in the increasing development of the Kingdom’s financial sector,” Boutros Klink, CEO of Bahrain and the Middle East at the bank, said.
NRG Matters: G7 forms climate club; Saudi SARCO, UK firm to develop $300m renewable energy projects
Updated 29 min 38 sec ago
RIYADH: On a macro level, the Group of Seven nations has reached a deal to launch a “Climate Club” where they agree on joint rules and standards to fight global warming.
Zooming in, the Saudi Arabian Refineries Co. has signed an initial agreement with UK-based Christof Global Impact to develop $300 million renewable energy projects.
Looking at the bigger picture:
• The UK is working on a plan to limit the influence of rising gas prices on consumers’ electricity bills, as it faces rising inflation due to its reliance on costly fossil fuels, Bloomberg reported.
• The Group of Seven nations has reached a deal to launch a “Climate Club” where they agree on joint rules and standards to fight global warming, Bloomberg reported.
The move comes with the hope of avoiding conflicts over green tariffs as well.
Through a micro lens:
• The Saudi Arabian Refineries Co. has signed an initial agreement with UK-based Christof Global Impact to develop renewable energy projects, Trade Arabia reported.
The first project, with an initial investment of SR1 billion ($266 million), will study an investment partnership to build a refinery producing the “biodiesel” biofuel carbon.
The second project, at an estimated total cost of SR130 million for the first phase, aims to study investment in the technology of slop oil to convert waste oil wells, oil from shipping ships, waste of fuel tanks and petroleum materials into low carbon raw materials to reduce carbon emissions.
• SSE plc and Equinor have partnered to purchase £341 million ($419 million) three UK electricity plants from Triton Power Co. as they plan to develop low carbon projects, Bloomberg reported.
The partnership reflects European energy companies’ interest in cleaning up their operations as they move towards green power.
Growth in Saudi Arabia’s liquidity slows to 7.8% year-on-year in May
Updated 28 June 2022
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s M3 monetary aggregate, known as “broad money,” grew in May by SR171.6 billion ($45.7 billion) from the same month a year ago to SR2.38 trillion.
M3 money supply, a benchmark indicator for liquidity in Saudi Arabia’s monetary system, increased by 7.8 percent from SR2.21 trillion in May last year, according to data published on Saudi Central Bank website on Tuesday.
The annual growth rate in May was the slowest since December 2021. It slowed down from 8.7 percent in April.
Looking at the year-on-year changes in components of the M3 aggregate, time and saving deposits grew by SR78.3 billion to SR517.4 billion. Other quasi-money deposits and demand deposits increased by SR60 billion and SR38.8 billion to SR297.8 billion and SR1.36 trillion, respectively. Currency outside banks decreased by SR5.6 billion to SR206.6 billion over the same period.
The M3 money supply slipped 0.5 percent from its level in April.