SoftBank leads $125m funding round in Saudi Arabian tech start-up Unifonic

The move marks SoftBank’s first direct investment in a company in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian customer engagement platform Unifonic raised $125 million in a new funding round led by Japan’s SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Sanabil Investments, a subsidiary of the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund.

The new funding, also known as Series B round, marks SoftBank’s first direct investment in a company based in Saudi Arabia. It will facilitate the start-up to “drive Saudi expansion and international presence”, the company said.

With the new injection of funds, Unifonic plans to accelerate product development and hiring “in order to expand into new markets around the globe” and bolster its market share across the Middle East.

“This raise is an important milestone in our journey,” Ahmed Hamdan, founder and chief executive of Unifonic, said.

“It will allow us to scale our offerings and expand our reach to enable more organisations to connect with customers reliably and effectively … we aim to continue this journey and serve our clients in the best ways possible."

Riyadh-headquartered Unifonic enables organisations to offer customers omnichannel experiences. By unifying communication channels, messaging apps and chatbots, it streamlines conversations at every touch point throughout the customer journey.

Start-ups in Saudi Arabia attracted a record $168m worth of venture capital funding through 54 transactions in the first half of 2021, data platform Magnitt said. This is about 94 per cent of the money extended to the kingdom’s start-ups in 2020.

Operating in emerging markets since 2006, Unifonic handles more than 10 billion annual transactions for millions of recipients in more than 160 countries.

It caters to enterprises such as Saudi Electricity Company, Saudi Ministry of Health, Absher, Uber, Aramex and Noon. Its clients come from various industries such as banks, financial services, health, education, travel, e-commerce and logistics.

“Consumers and businesses are increasingly sophisticated in how they communicate digitally, but this has created fragmentation across multiple emerging channels. Unifonic’s technology manages this complexity into a single platform … enabling enterprise clients to form closer relationships with their customers,” said Faisal Rehman, managing partner for SoftBank investment advisers.

“We look forward to supporting the Unifonic team in scaling the platform across the Middle East and other emerging markets."

Unifonic’s solutions integrate customer communication channels including text, voice, messaging and web into a single platform.

From text messages for online banking to WhatsApp vaccination requests, Unifonic allows organisations to transform customer experience while letting them focus on core business activities without maintaining costly communication infrastructures.

Updated: September 16th 2021, 4:15 AM
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