Standard Chartered's myZoi start-up raises $14 million

The aim of the UAE-based payroll platform is to boost financial inclusion and smart money skills for the underbanked

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There are substantial Arabtec resources currently present in the UAE, ranging from management and skilled labour, to equipment and know-how. 

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MyZoi, a UAE digital payroll platform that focuses on financial inclusion and smart money skills for the underbanked, which is wholly owned by Standard Chartered Bank, has raised $14 million from the London-listed lender’s SC Ventures tech investment arm and venture capital investment company SBI Holdings.

The funding forms part of myZoi’s “initial raises after its seed round” and will be used to further develop the FinTech’s product offering after the start-up goes live later this year, the company said.

However, it did not disclose how much myZoi had raised before the current $14 million funding round, but said Tokyo-based SBI Holdings was the company’s first external investor.

“As a tech-led, digital-native company, our drive is to make a meaningful difference not just in the lives of the underbanked, but their lifeline, which is their support network of families as well,” said Syed Muhammad Ali, co-founder and chief executive of myZoi.

The world’s digital revolution, which accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic, has transformed the financial services sector, spurring fiscal inclusion and leading to more people than ever before having access to a bank account for the first time, according to the World Bank’s Global Findex 2021 report, which was released last June and is published every three years.

Meanwhile, about 22 per cent of the GCC's population is unbanked, compared with 60 per cent in North Africa, according to a report by consultancy Strategy&.

In the Mena region, 79 per cent of young adults are unbanked and 72 per cent of the poorest citizens can benefit from financial inclusion, according to the Arab Monetary Fund.

Formal bank accounts allow their owners to safely and affordably store, send and receive money for everyday needs, plan for emergencies and invest for the future, it said.

By contrast, people without an account have to manage their money using informal mechanisms such as cash, which could be less safe, less reliable and more expensive than formal methods.

“MyZoi will strive towards reducing the transaction cost of migrant remittances to less than 3 per cent, in line with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals 2030, while providing corporates a digitised, safe and efficient way to process payroll,” said Mr Ali.

Employees can register with myZoi if their employer has signed up for its payroll service, which will offer them financial literacy and wellness programmes, instant remittances and competitive rates, according to the company.

In July, myZoi, which means “life” in Greek, secured two licences from the UAE Central Bank: the Stored Value Facilities licence and a Retail Payment Services and Card Schemes Category II licence.

The FinTech will soon begin live beta testing with selected companies and a limited number of users and is aiming to go live by the end of this year, the company said.

MyZoi was originally developed by Christian Buchholz, the start-up’s co-founder and chief product officer, and incubated under SC Ventures.

Updated: September 06, 2023, 4:30 AM