UAE FinTech SimpliFi raises $5.1m to expand across Mena and Pakistan

The cards-as-a-service start-up launched its beta version in August, for which it received strong interest from regional organisations

Ali Sattar, founder and chief executive of SimpliFi. Photo: SimpliFi

SimpliFi, a Dubai-based financial technology start-up, secured $5.1 million in new funding that it plans to use to expand across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan region.

The cards-as-a-service platform, which also has an office in Riyadh, raised the investment from Saudi-based Raed Ventures and US-based Global Founders Capital, 4DX Ventures and Rally Cap Ventures. Raed and Rally Cap had participated in a seed round earlier this year, which raised an undisclosed amount.

The start-up manages all ecosystem partners required to issue cards including banks, card schemes, processors, identity verification, card fulfilment and customer care to deliver a seamless experience across several markets.

“We were overwhelmed yet humbled by the response we got after we launched in August. It was only then that we realised that the opportunity was substantially bigger than what we had originally anticipated, which emboldened us to double down and accelerate our expansion across the region,” Ali Sattar, founder and chief executive of SimpliFi, said on Monday.

Start-ups in the region continue to attract investments, with the fourth quarter of 2021 particularly busy, especially for transactions involving the UAE sphere.

Last week, Abu Dhabi Global Market and the World Bank's International Finance Corporation launched a programme to support women-led Mena start-ups, while Indian cloud services provider G7CR Technologies announced plans to invest up to $30m to support MEA and India start-ups.

Accelerator programmes are also expanding their reach. Earlier this month, Aldar, the UAE's biggest listed property company, launched the second cycle of its Scale Up accelerator programme, while technology company Google is currently underway with the third edition of its initiative to help budding companies speed up their development.

Mena start-ups received $1.2bn in funding during the first half of 2021, surpassing the amount raised in the whole of 2020, data platform Magnitt reported earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the global payments industry is set to return to its long-term growth trajectory after posting its first contraction in 11 years in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, said management consultancy McKinsey & Company's annual sector report.

The sector's revenue fell 5 per cent on the year to $1.9 trillion in 2020, but those losses will be recouped this year, bringing revenue back into the range of 2019's record high, it added.

SimpliFi launched its beta version in August and said it received strong interest from regional organisations that want to issue cards to fulfil business needs and offer card products to small and medium enterprises and consumers. This resulted in the signing of a number of partnerships with banks, processors and other providers.

The company's team is backed by people with experience from ride-hailing services Careem, Grab, Gojek and Uber, payments companies PayPal, Marqeta, Mastercard and Network International, and Facebook.

Quote
We realised that the opportunity was substantially bigger than what we had originally anticipated, which emboldened us to double down and accelerate our expansion across the region
Ali Sattar, founder and chief executive of SimpliFi

“We see growing demand for card issuance in the region and are excited to continue to back SimpliFi as it expands its presence across the region,” said Wael Nafee, partner at Raed Ventures.

SimpliFi was founded in 2020 by Mr Sattar, who is the former head of Careem Pay. He had previously said that the company wants to remove the underlying complexities and hassles of card issuance.

In addition to providing a purpose-built tech stack, SimpliFi manages day-to-day card operations and compliance functions so businesses can focus on their core strengths while leveraging the capabilities and scale of SimpliFi.

Updated: January 12th 2022, 7:34 AM