UAE's Pyypl raises $20m to expand financial inclusion in Middle East and Africa

ADGM-licensed start-up offers digital payment solutions for smartphone users who are financially underserved

Pyypl provides digital payments, remittances and a range of other financial services for 800 million smartphone users in the Middle East and Africa. Photo: Pyypl
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UAE-based FinTech Pyypl has raised $20 million in a series B funding round and will use the proceeds to expand its financial inclusion plans in the Middle East and Africa.

A diverse group of international investors and 10 existing investors participated in the funding round, Pyypl said on Monday, without disclosing the details of the investors.

“We welcome our new investors and appreciate the further investment from our existing shareholders in support of our financial inclusion journey,” co-founder and chief executive Antti Arponen said.

“We have grown significantly since our series A round and are excited to enter the next phase of growth and capability. This is just the beginning.”

Pyypl (pronounced people) is a blockchain-based platform licensed by the Abu Dhabi Global Market’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority.

It provides digital payments, remittances and a range of other financial services to 800 million smartphone users in the Middle East and Africa region who do not have bank accounts or credit or debit cards.

The digital revolution since the onset of Covid-19 has spurred financial inclusion around the world and led to more people having access to a bank account for the first time, according to the World Bank’s Global Findex 2021 report.

However, 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&.

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

It is this demographic that Mr Arponen aims to tap into with Pyypl, which he started working on in 2017 with co-founder Phil Reynolds.

In February, Pyypl raised $11m in a series A financing round to fund its expansion in core GCC markets and Africa, particularly in Kenya and Mozambique.

Since inception in 2017, Pyypl has raised about $40m from investors in Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East, including UAE-based venture capital company Global Ventures, the platform said.

The FinTech, which is based in Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem Hub71, is considering opening a second tranche for further investment due to interest from investors, it said.

Pyypl will also use the proceeds for product development to enhance user experience and support growth in current and new markets.

The FinTech has grown more than four times in terms of user numbers, transaction volumes and revenue since its series A round earlier this year, the company said.

Last October, the company teamed up with US blockchain technology company Ripple to introduce an on-demand liquidity (ODL) solution for cross-border transfers between the Middle East and the Philippines.

The ODL solution enables RippleNet, a network of banks and money services businesses that employ solutions developed by Ripple, to use the XRP digital currency as a bridge between two fiat currencies, allowing them to transfer funds economically and instantly across jurisdictions, the two companies said at the time.

Pyypl also offers its own cross-border remittance service to about 60 countries.

Updated: May 30, 2023, 11:31 AM