UAE’s Ziina raises seed funding and qualifies for Y-Combinator’s accelerator programme

Founded last year, the start-up plans to enter Saudi Arabia and Jordan by 2022

(From left to right) Ashiq Korikkar, head of growth, Faisal Toukan, co-founder and chief executive, and Andrew Gold, co-founder and head of engineering, are the brains behind peer-to-peer payments app Ziina. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Ziina, the UAE’s peer-to-peer (P2P) payment application that lets users split bills with friends, raised an undisclosed amount in a seed funding round. The company has also qualified for the American seed money start-up accelerator Y-Combinator’s winter 2021 batch.

The fundraising, which was led by OTF Jasoor Ventures, the venture capital arm of Oman Technology Fund, saw the participation from investors that include Class 5 Global, Long Journey Ventures, Graph Ventures, Jabbar Internet Group, FJ Labs and Wamda.

The funding will boost Ziina’s next phase of expansion, the company said.

"We have received an enthusiastic response from VCs and angel investors during our latest funding round … this will contribute to supercharging Ziina’s growth in the year ahead, achieving the goals we have set," Faisal Toukan, chief executive and co-founder of Ziina, said.

Founded in 2020, the start-up offers a seamless way for friends and family to split payments. This year, it plans to expand its product offering to include simplified payments for freelancers and small businesses. Ziina plans to enter Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, and Jordan by 2022.

P2P payment technology allows customers to transfer funds from their bank account or credit card to others through the internet and is booming globally.

The market was valued at $1.8 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $4.5bn by 2027, growing 11.8 per cent annually, according to Statistics Market Research Consulting.

"The participation with Y-Combinator is a game changer for Ziina and we are thrilled that we have fallen into the very small bracket of companies who are accepted," Mr Toukan said.

"It also allows us to have access to mentors from top technology companies, which will propel Ziina to an even higher level when it comes to scaling our operations," he added.

The FinTech start-up will go through the Y-Combinator’s three-month accelerator programme with an opportunity to pitch to many of the world’s most successful investors.

Y-Combinator has helped launch over 2,000 companies including Airbnb, Stripe and Dropbox.

Ziina, which lets users send and receive payments with just a phone number, also plans to grow its team this year.

“One of our missions at Ziina is linking the best talent and resources of the UAE with those of Silicon Valley," Mr Toukan said. "We have seen the UAE take a highly proactive approach to supporting the FinTech ecosystem and we are thrilled to be a part of it."