Mubadala-backed Tabby raises $50m in debt financing

The buy now, pay later company will use the new funding to expand its operations

DUBAI UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 21 DECEMBER 2020. Hosam Arab, co-founder and CEO of buy now, pay later e-commerce website Tabby, for a Generation Start-up feature. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Felicity Glover. Section: Business.

Dubai-based buy now, pay later company Tabby secured $50 million from Silicon Valley-based Partners for Growth in one of the largest debt-financing rounds availed by a FinTech start-up in the Mena region.

The financing is a significant milestone in the region’s start-up ecosystem and demonstrates the growing maturity of the FinTech landscape.

The investment will “bolster Tabby’s capitalisation to expand lending capacity and support the company’s growth”, it said on Tuesday.

“As our transaction volumes and merchant numbers have continued to surpass all our expectations, it was essential for us to partner with an organisation that would support our current and long-term growth,” said chief executive Hosam Arab.

The buy now, pay later business model, which allows consumers to make online purchases instantly and spread their payments out over interest-free instalments, has boomed since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic as consumers switched to shopping online.

The industry is expected to grow 10 to 15 times by 2025 worldwide, topping $1 trillion in annual gross merchandise volume by some estimates, according to a report by New York data research consultancy CB Insights.

“Tabby is one of the fastest growing companies in the Mena region and they have an attractive market opportunity ahead,” Max Penel, investment director at PFG, said.

Co-founded in 2019 by Mr Arab, former chief executive of online retail site Namshi, Tabby raised $23m in December last year in an initial venture capital funding round led by Arbor Ventures and Mubadala Capital.

The money will be used to fund the company's next stage of growth, Tabby said at the time.

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As our transaction volumes and merchant numbers have continued to surpass all our expectations, it was essential for us to partner with an organisation that would support our current and long-term growth

Tabby's platform went live in February 2020 and it has agreements with more than 2,000 large and small retailers including Ikea, Marks & Spencer, Home Centre and Toys R Us.

Earlier this month, the start-up introduced a loyalty programme that rewards customers with physical cash that they can either use to fund new purchases, settle future payments or transfer to their bank accounts. Customers can earn up to 20 per cent cashback after purchasing items from the platform's retail partners.

In addition to Tabby, there are a number of players including Postpay, Cashew, Spotii and Tamara that are also jostling for a share of the Middle East BNPL market.

The sector is also ripe for deal making with many local BNPL companies bagging sizeable investments this year.

Saudi Arabia's buy now, pay later company Tamara recently raised $110m in debt and equity financing from Checkout.com in one of the region's largest start-up investments to date. Australia's Zip said last month it was paying about $16m to buy the shares it didn't already own in Dubai's Spotii.

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