CAIRO: Far from the business frenzy around the FIFA World Cup in neighboring Qatar, Saudi Arabia is laying the ground for a business opportunity that could change the fortune of the Kingdom. In the last few months, its banking sector has invited a slew of financial technology companies that could not only offer digitization benefits to its customers but also bolster its economy with better spending avenues.
One of the latest players to join the bandwagon is India’s financial technology enabler M2P, which is expanding its regional footprint by offering financial solutions in Saudi Arabia by 2023.
Founded in 2014, M2P provides fintech companies, banks and financial institutions with the proper technology solutions to boost their financial services.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Madhusudanan R, founder of M2P, said that the company is entering the Saudi Arabian market after seeing massive growth in its fintech sector.
“We managed to support many companies with our products, and I believe we will be able to do the same in Saudi Arabia,” Madhusudanan said.
We are present in about 20 markets; we serve 700 fintech companies, 100 banks and 120 non-banking financial institutions. India is our largest market with over 400 fintech.
Madhusudanan R, Founder of M2P
He added that the company will launch in the Kingdom by the end of January 2023 and announce a few of its partnerships.
Many regional companies have recognized Saudi Arabia’s growing financial technology sector as multiple players have been expanding their operations into the country.
UAE’s fintech startup Pemo is also planning to launch its services in Saudi Arabia by 2023, in addition to YAP, another Emirati fintech that expanded to the Kingdom in July.
The Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, has also been pushing toward digital transformation as the country plans to enable open banking in the first quarter of 2023.
India’s M2P first started its expansion in the UAE, where it established a regional headquarters to cement its presence in the Middle East.
The company later began to attract clients from different parts of the region, as it currently serves companies in the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Madhusudanan explained that the company has over 900 clients worldwide, with about 20 current customers from the Kingdom.
“We are present in about 20 markets; we serve 700 fintech companies, 100 banks and 120 non-banking financial institutions. India is our largest market with over 400 fintech,” he added.
The founder also explained that M2P could easily reach over 50 clients in Saudi Arabia within the next year because it is a financial technology enabler and does not require licenses from the central bank or the government.
“Although it is not yet officially announced, we have already started working with several banks and companies in Saudi Arabia as we have huge plans for the market,” he added.
The company is in talks with three to four banks and around 14 fintech companies in Saudi Arabia looking to use M2P’s platform.
The Kingdom has been pushing toward creating a regional financial technology hub by easing the process for fintech companies to operate in the country as it plans to develop over 500 fintech companies by 2030.
“Hopefully, we will be able to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 in making the Kingdom one of the most enabled fintech ecosystems in the region,” Madhusudanan added.
M2P aims to provide Saudi companies with all its 25 financial solutions that range from payment, buy now, pay later and banking services.
To highlight the Kingdom’s move to digital, Saudi Arabia’s banking sector saw massive advancement in 2021, with financial inclusion reaching 83 percent and around 16 million bank accounts opened digitally.
Moreover, the Kingdom has witnessed massive changes in its payment sector as Vision 2030 aims to increase the share of non-cash transactions to 70 percent by 2025.
The strategy also aims to increase the sector’s contribution toward the gross domestic product to $3.46 billion by 2030.
Global digital payment firms like Visa and Mastercard have also recognized the changes in consumer payment, with both companies agreeing that the Kingdom has witnessed one of the highest contactless payment growth curves in history.
Last month, Visa also announced the establishment of its innovation center in Riyadh to enable access to payment technologies.
“Payments executed via smart devices by individuals on point-of-sale terminals increased by 282 percent in 2021,” the Financial Sector Development Plan stated.
Madhusudanan explained that fintech startups could easily launch new payment offerings with its solutions that have already laid the foundations to integrate with banks easily.
The company managed to process over $10 billion in transactions through its solutions as well as serve more than 35 million end customers.
M2P has been well-positioned to cater to fintech companies with the right solutions. The company received a total of $110 million in funding, with its last fundraising of $20 million announced in January 2022.
Investors include New York-based private equity firm Insight Partners, MUFG Innovation Partners, Tiger Global and Better Capital.
Madhusudanan stated that the company is currently valued at $620 million to invest its money into expanding its regional footprint.
The company reached profitability two years ago but decided to sacrifice its positive cash flow to reach more customers and grow its client base as it plans to get back to a green balance sheet by next year.
“Now we are focusing a lot more on growth, we’ve also been acquiring many companies, and so we have to compromise on the profitability because we’ve hired many team members and we’re going to new markets,” Madhusudanan explained.
He added that the company currently has an office in Riyadh and is adding 10 more members to the team by next year.
The company is not yet considering going public, but Madhusudanan said, “we will think of doing it, maybe sometime in the next three or four years.”