Saudi Expansion in Focus for Paymob After Record Egypt Fundraise

Egyptian digital payments provider Paymob will use fresh funding to enter Saudi Arabia and expand at home, as the pandemic spurs a surge in cashless transactions.

The Cairo-based firm, which provides mobile wallet products for companies including banks and phone operators and also helps process retail payments, sees “huge potential” in the two Arab nations, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Alain El Hajj said in an interview.

Fueled by what it says is the biggest-ever Series A fund-raising by an Egyptian company, led by United Arab Emirates-based Global Ventures, Paymob is seeking to build on the 500% jump in monthly revenue it saw in Egypt in 2020.

The “pandemic accelerated digital transformation,” El Hajj said, as consumers in Egypt, the Middle East’s most populous nation, as well as Paymob’s Kenyan, Pakistani and Palestinian markets increasingly moved online. Dutch development bank FMO and tech investment fund A15 also contributed to the fund-raising of a total $15 million.

Paymob counts Swvl LLC, LG Corp. and Samsonite International SA among its more than 35,000 merchants -- a figure that’s rocketed from 1,000 before Covid-19 struck. The company, which says it processes over 85% of mobile wallet payments in Egypt, also credits authorities’ moves to encourage digital banking and transactions as having boosted its business.

Paymob has applied for a license in Saudi Arabia and is in talks with the regulator, Chief Executive Officer Islam Shawky said in the same interview. The kingdom, home to the region’s largest economy, has made increasing the proportion of non-cash transactions a goal of its ambitious economic transformation plans.

Saudi cashless payments, already growing rapidly before the pandemic, have surged over the past year. In February, the latest data available, digital and card-based point-of-sales transactions made up more than 40% of a calculation that approximates consumer spending. That compares with around 30% at the start of the pandemic and 20% at the beginning of 2018.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia both have a “great regulatory environment that’s pushing the industry” and “players in the market that have the right tools and products to fulfill this demand,” said Shawky, who’s also one of the company’s three founders.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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