Fintech lights up Saudi Arabia’s venture space  

Fintech lights up Saudi Arabia’s venture space  
Saudi Arabia has emerged as a prime destination for both regional and global firms eager to tap into its burgeoning market.  Shutterstock
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Updated 22 October 2023
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Fintech lights up Saudi Arabia’s venture space  

Fintech lights up Saudi Arabia’s venture space  

CAIRO: With an objective to host 525 fintech companies by 2030, Saudi Arabia has emerged as a prime destination for both regional and global firms eager to tap into its burgeoning market.  

Following the financial sector development strategy unveiled last year, the Kingdom is on track to position itself as a regional hub for the industry. 

On that note, US-based fintech company Tribal Credit has renewed its $150 million debt facility to fuel its expansion into Saudi Arabia.  

Founded in 2016 in Silicon Valley by Amr Shady, Duane Good, Hariraj Jayakumar, Mark Graves, Mohamed El-Kasstawi, and Prasant Sudhakaran, the company offers enhanced financial solutions to small and medium enterprises in emerging markets.  

The company aims to use its debt facility to develop its tech solutions as well as expand to other countries.  

“This funding will equip us with the necessary resources to seize exciting market opportunities ahead,” Shady said.  

“We’re eager to continue our journey of developing innovative tech solutions to help SMEs thrive in emerging markets, especially in Mexico and Saudi Arabia,” he added.  

The debt facility, provided by the global lending firm Partners for Growth, is scheduled to remain in effect until 2025.  

“Tribal Credit has consistently demonstrated strong credit performance even in challenging market conditions. Their continued investment in the credit process, tools, and the team has paid dividends,” says Armineh Baghoomian, managing director, head of Europe, Middle East and Africa, co-head of Global Fintech at PFG.  

“In addition, they have innovated and launched financial products that truly meet the needs of SMEs in emerging markets. We’re thrilled to extend our partnership with Tribal and excited to support Amr, Duane and the team as they continue shaping the landscape of financial services,” he added.  

Saudi digital payment company Cashin acquires counterpart  

Saudi-based digital payment solutions provider Cashin has successfully completed the acquisition of Cardless, a prominent name in the Kingdom’s digital payment product landscape.  

The acquisition aims to bolster the firm’s ambitions of incorporating procurement solutions for digital cards within its comprehensive platform.   

This move is in line with the company’s strategy to diversify its services, making a foray into the digital card realm with its Cashin Cards offering.   

This service is anticipated to empower over 20,000 merchants with the ability to issue virtual cards, allowing them to seamlessly integrate these cards into their product offerings and earn commissions via digital wallets, devoid of any credit constraints.  

Omar Al-Ramah, Cashin’s CEO, emphasized that the integration of Cardless is a strategic move, aligning with the company’s mission to cater to the retail sector’s evolving demands.   

He highlighted the value addition stemming from Cardless’s extensive customer database and a decade-long industry experience.  

Cashin is renowned for delivering versatile solutions in the domains of point of sale, digital payments, e-invoicing, inventory management, and more, all fine-tuned to serve diverse retail scales.   

Meanwhile, Cardless has made a mark with its holistic digital payment platform, constantly innovating to simplify payment processes for users.  

Saudi Arabia’s Takadao raises $1.6m  

Saudi fintech startup Takadao has secured $1.6 million in a pre-seed funding round spearheaded by Silicon Valley’s renowned investor, Tim Draper, and saw participation from BIM, Core Vision Ventures, and Prince Sultan bin Fahad bin Salman.  

Originally established in Singapore and headquartered in Riyadh, Takadao was founded by Sharene Lee and Morrad Irsane to offer Shariah-compliant blockchain-based services with a specific focus on savings and loans as well as cooperative life insurance solutions.  

Boasting a community that currently exceeds 10,000 members, Takadao claims to be on a growth trajectory with its user base expanding by approximately 5 percent on a weekly basis.   

Tim Draper’s investment in the Saudi-based startup is a notable first. Draper, with a legacy of transformative investments in companies like Baidu, Skype, and Hotmail.  

“Takadao is one of those companies that you don’t know quite where it’s going to go, but if it succeeds, it’s going to be really impactful and make a big difference in the world and this is a world that I want to live in,” Draper said.  

Moreover, the founders expressed their excitement at having Draper as an investor.  

“Tim Draper is a visionary. Throughout his career, he has shown foresight in anticipating where the world is going to go. He is also humble and embracing of diverse cultures and viewpoints. This is why we’re extremely excited to have him on board,” said Irsane.  

XPANCEO raises $40m to launch AR contact lenses  

The UAE-based deep tech firm XPANCEO has secured $40 million in a seed funding round spearheaded by Opportunity Ventures based in Hong Kong.   

Established in 2021 by founders Valentyn Volkov and Roman Axelrod, XPANCEO is creating next generation technology with its smart contact lenses.  

The company has successfully created and tested three separate prototypes of lenses that enable night vision and zoom, real-time health monitoring, and the ability to see video and graphic content in augmented reality.  

The freshly procured funds are earmarked to expedite the company’s launch of its next prototype which will gather several features into one device.  

“We are targeting, at least, the $790 billion augmented reality and contact lenses market, and creating the first device in the market that will allow us to use all apps and software in a single contact lens interface,” Volkov said.


Xi calls for more jobs for youth, migrant workers

Xi calls for more jobs for youth, migrant workers
Updated 28 May 2024
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Xi calls for more jobs for youth, migrant workers

Xi calls for more jobs for youth, migrant workers
  • (We should) insist that employment of young people including college graduates is a top priority: Chinese president

BEIJING: China’s President Xi Jinping called on Monday for efforts to promote high-quality and sufficient jobs for college graduates and migrant workers, while presiding over a Politburo group study session, state media Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

“(We should) insist that employment of young people including college graduates is a top priority,” the Xinhua report quoted Xi as saying at a group study session of the Politburo, a top decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party.

The Xinhua report did not give details on job promotion support measures or plans.

The survey-based jobless rate for 16-24 year-olds, excluding college students, was 14.7 percent in April, down from 15.3 percent in March, official data showed last week.

China’s statistics bureau revised its methodology by removing college students from the survey pool after youth jobless rate surged to around 20 percent last year.

Xi also said the government should take steps to promote the employment of migrant workers, guide them to return to their hometowns and for people to start businesses in the countryside.

He called for stabilizing the income of people who had been lifted out of poverty and preventing large-scale return to poverty due to unemployment, Xinhua said.

Companies and industries with strong job creation capabilities will be supported, the report said.

China created 4.36 million new urban jobs in the first four months, Human Resources Ministry data showed, 36 percent of its annual job creation target.


Saudis spent more money on electronic devices during the 4th week of May: SAMA data

Saudis spent more money on electronic devices during the 4th week of May: SAMA data
Updated 28 May 2024
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Saudis spent more money on electronic devices during the 4th week of May: SAMA data

Saudis spent more money on electronic devices during the 4th week of May: SAMA data

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale spending reached SR11.2 billion ($2.98 billion) in the fourth week of May, official figures showed.

The latest data from the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, revealed that spending on electronic and electric devices surged by 9.5 percent to reach SR240.4 million.

Beverages and food, which accounts for the largest share at 14.9 percent, saw a 5.9 percent decline, reaching SR1.66 billion, during the week from May 19 to 25.

Meanwhile, transactions at restaurants and cafes, holding a 14.6 percent share, recorded a slower decline of 4.8 percent, amounting to SR1.64 billion. 

Saudi spending on miscellaneous goods and services, including personal care items, supplies, maintenance, and cleaning, constituted the third-highest share and witnessed a 5.1 percent decline that week, reaching SR1.36 billion. 

Despite composing only 1 percent of the week’s overall POS value, spending on education recorded a minimal increase of 0.1 percent to SR152.48 million.

In the past few years, this sector has been allocated the largest share of government expenditure in comparison to other divisions of the economy. 

Efforts are underway to revamp the education system, aiming to equip the national workforce with the necessary skills to thrive in a technological and information-centric global economy.

The hotel sector experienced the largest decline in POS transaction value, dropping 10.9 percent to SR227.13 million.

According to data from SAMA, 35.44 percent of POS spending occurred in Riyadh, with the total transaction value reaching SR3.97 billion. However, this represents a 1.6 percent decrease from the previous week.  

Riyadh has undergone considerable expansion, evolving into a pivotal center for growth and progress. The city is witnessing a surge in new businesses setting up operations, drawn by its vibrant economic landscape and strategic prospects for investment and innovation.

Spending in Jeddah followed closely, accounting for 14.3 percent of the total and reaching SR1.60 billion; however, it marked a 3.1 percent weekly drop. 

The two cities that registered the highest declines in POS spending were Makkah and Madinah, with decreases of 11 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively. The value of transactions in Makkah reached SR380.98 million, while in Madinah, it was SR393.26 million.


Saudi healthcare to advance with major digital tech partnership

Saudi healthcare to advance with major digital tech partnership
Updated 28 May 2024
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Saudi healthcare to advance with major digital tech partnership

Saudi healthcare to advance with major digital tech partnership

RIYADH: The Saudi healthcare system is set to advance as two of the country’s major companies partner to leverage digital technologies to enhance the Kingdom’s capabilities.

SAMI Advanced Electronics Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of SAMI, the nation’s defense and digital solutions provider, has signed a cooperation agreement with the National Unified Procurement Co., a Public Investment Fund company.

The agreement, signed on May 27, will provide solutions for medication tracking and IT infrastructure and increase local content through medical devices manufacturing and maintenance.

This partnership demonstrates SAMI-AEC’s unremitting efforts to build a harmonious and applicable healthcare system in Saudi Arabia based on digital technologies.

Ziad Al-Musallam, CEO of SAMI-AEC, commented on the agreement, saying that they are honored to collaborate with NUPCO, as this deal underscores the unwavering commitment of both entities to bolstering efforts aimed at enhancing the healthcare ecosystem in Saudi Arabia.

“At SAMI-AEC, we firmly believe in the significance of augmenting public health services through digital solutions and delivering e-health services. This involves integrating effective, fast technologies to empower the healthcare sector, aligning with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030,” he said.

Fahad Al-Shebel, CEO of NUPCO, highlighted the agreement’s importance and its role in fortifying the healthcare infrastructure and facilitating access to the integrated technology offered by SAMI-Advanced Electronics Co.

Aiming to upgrade the healthcare sector by improving its facilities in all public hospitals and medical centers in the Kingdom, NUPCO is the country’s largest central company providing medical purchasing, storage, and distribution services for medicines, devices, and supplies.

With a workforce of over 3,320 individuals, 85 percent of whom are Saudi nationals, SAMI-AEC has positioned itself as a leader in electronics, technology, engineering, and manufacturing. Its services span sectors such as defense and aerospace, digital, energy, and security.

Over 800 of the company’s employees are engineers and certified experts, reaffirming the dedication of SAMI-AEC, which was established in 1988, to excellence and innovation.

On the other hand, NUPCO was established in 2009 with SR1.5 billion in capital. It is the leading company in Saudi Arabia in procurement, logistics, and supply chain management for pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and supplies for governmental hospitals.


Closing Bell: Saudi main index continues downward trend to close at 11,660

Closing Bell: Saudi main index continues downward trend to close at 11,660
Updated 28 May 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index continues downward trend to close at 11,660

Closing Bell: Saudi main index continues downward trend to close at 11,660

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index continued its downward movement for the third consecutive session this week, as it shed 171.28 points to close at 11,659.94 on Tuesday. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR5.34 billion ($1.42 billion), with 23 stocks advancing and 202 declining. 

The Kingdom’s parallel market, Nomu, also slipped by 0.81 percent to 26,234.79, while the MSCI Tadawul Index shed 20.97 points to close at 1,449.44.

The best-performing stock on the main index was Sustained Infrastructure Holding Co. The firm’s share price soared by 6.2 percent to SR34.25.

Other top performers were the Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co. and AYYAN Investment Co., whose share prices edged up by 3.98 percent and 3.63 percent respectively. 

The worst-performing stock on the benchmark index was Saudi utility giant ACWA Power, as its share price slid by 4.68 percent to SR456.60. 

On the announcements front, Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co. said that it was awarded two projects worth SR45.51 million by Technical and Vocational Training Corp. to provide dedicated Internet services in 77 locations. 

In a Tadawul statement, the telecommunication provider said that the first project has a value of SR23.64 million, while the second one amounts to SR21.87 million. 

Meanwhile, Mouwasat Medical Services Co. announced that its shareholders have approved the board’s recommendation to distribute a 17.5 percent cash dividend, or SR 1.75 per share for 2023. 

In March, Mouwasat Medical Services Co. had revealed that its net profit witnessed a growth of 10 percent in 2023 to SR657.7 million, compared to the previous year. 

Al Moammar Information Systems Co., on Tuesday, revealed that it received new orders to increase the capacity of data centers at a total value of SR 75.2 million. 

In a statement to Tadawul, the company added that further developments of the order will be unveiled in due course. 


PIF’s Halal Products Development Co. invests in Singapore-based cosmetics firm

PIF’s Halal Products Development Co. invests in Singapore-based cosmetics firm
Updated 28 May 2024
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PIF’s Halal Products Development Co. invests in Singapore-based cosmetics firm

PIF’s Halal Products Development Co. invests in Singapore-based cosmetics firm

RIYADH: In a bid to localize the Kingdom’s cosmetics and personal care industry, the Halal Products Development Co. announced an investment in a Singapore-based fast-moving consumer goods conglomerate.

The Public Investment Fund-owned company signed a binding agreement with Believe — a company specializing in the halal cosmetics and personal care field.

As per the agreement, the company will relocate its headquarters from Singapore to Saudi Arabia and establish a factory to manufacture its products, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The new headquarters will also serve as a major center for exporting the company’s products to various countries of the world.

This move is in line with the PIF-owned firm’s goal to strengthen the halal industries in Saudi Arabia and provide high-quality products compatible with Islamic standards.

Halal Products Development Co. CEO Fahad Al-Nuhait said that investing in this sector is a very important first step that serves as a major catalyst for developing and localizing the manufacturing of halal cosmetics and personal care.

In return, this is expected to raise the efficiency of the sector and support research as well as development efforts to improve the services provided locally and globally, Al-Nuhait added.

The CEO said it will also facilitate the transfer of the expertise and resources to the Kingdom.

Moreover, it will also contribute to achieving the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 by creating direct and indirect job opportunities.

Believe CEO Ankit Mahajan said this partnership represents a strategic opportunity to expand the scope of investment and boost manufacturing capabilities.  

The agreement will also provide contract manufacturing services for local brands in the initial stage and will expand to international brands in the future.

In August, Halal Products Development Co. signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Saudi Exports Development Authority to launch the Halal Products Manufacturing Accelerator Program.

According to a statement, the new program came amid the Kingdom’s efforts to become a global hub for halal food products and accelerate the growth of the sector.