Digital bank Wio teams up with Stripe to boost online payments for SMEs

The partnership will enable businesses focused on e-commerce sector to accept online payments, make payouts and mitigate fraud

Wio Bank chief executive Jayesh Patel. The digital lender has a total capital of Dh2.3 billion and is owned by ADQ, Alpha Dhabi Holding, e& and FAB. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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Wio Bank, an Abu Dhabi-based digital lender, is teaming up with global digital payments company Stripe to boost online payments for small and medium enterprises and freelancers operating in the e-commerce sector.

The partnership will enable SMEs to accept online payments, make payouts and mitigate fraud, Wio Bank said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Wio Business, the first digital banking application from Wio, will empower SMEs and freelancers, who previously struggled to get access to payment products, to go into e-commerce faster with an easy-to-create Stripe account,” the digital lender said.

The move comes as lenders increasingly focus on offering their services to SMEs, which account for about 98 per cent of companies operating in the UAE.

Developing the sector and accelerating the growth of the start-up ecosystem are priorities for the UAE government under its development strategy for the next 50 years.

“We have a vision of facilitating more digital commerce while removing as much friction as possible for our customers,” Wio Bank chief executive Jayesh Patel said.

“Partnering with Stripe is a natural path to accelerate that goal as more businesses turn to online commerce as an opportunity, necessity and competitive advantage in today’s global economy.”

Wio Bank was set up last month with a total invested capital of Dh2.3 billion ($626 million). It currently focuses on offering its services to SMEs and plans to expand operations to retail clientele next year to become a full-service digital bank, Mr Patel told The National.

Wio is jointly owned by Abu Dhabi holding company ADQ, Alpha Dhabi Holding, telecoms operator e& (formerly known as Etisalat) and First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE’s largest lender by assets.

“The UAE is a global tech talent hub. However, too many companies still face challenges when trying to accept payments, make payouts, and manage the finances of their internet businesses,” said Girard Moussa, head of UAE operations at Strip.

The partnership with Wio will “help remove these complexities so businesses can focus on what makes them special”.

Soon, Wio users will be able to send payment links to their clients with a couple of taps. Stripe sign-ups will be through the app, meaning users can create a Stripe account and start sending payment links to clients, making it easier for SMEs to manage finances and be paid faster, Wio said.

Wio business customers will also be able to easily track and control payments through their Stripe dashboard.

The UAE's e-commerce market is expected to be worth $9.2bn in 2026, up about 92 per cent from 2021, as online sales continue to increase in the country, according to a recent Dubai Chamber of Commerce study.

The study, based on data from Euromonitor, also projected that the share of e-commerce in total retail sales will reach 12.6 per cent by 2026.

Updated: October 12, 2022, 12:44 PM