Digital Banking 101 Fintech in MENA, Now and Then

November 27, 2020
Digital Banking 101
Fintech in MENA, Now and Then


The number of startups offering financial services in the region doubled from 46 to 105 in just 3 years (2013–15) (3).


Since 2015, a total of US$237 million has been invested in MENA’s fintech startups through 181 deals, representing 7% of the total MENA startup funding between 2015 and 2019, according to MENA Fintech Venture Report 2019.


Gulf region regulators began implementing forward-thinking and agile policies related to FinTech beginning in 2017. Since then, we have seen a substantial amount of effort to design more diverse, competitive, and innovative economies (4).


In 2018, fintech became the most popular industry by number of deals across MENA with 97 investments, surpassing e-commerce, delivery & transport, and food & beverage. Within the MENA fintech industry, the payments and remittances vertical has received the most funding. In 2019, 45% of all deals went towards startups in the sector.

The MENA region is home to 450 million people. Of that total, about half of the population is younger than 25 years old, also known as GenZs and young millennials. This means they are born into technology and are considered “natives” or “early adopters”. Here are some interesting figures on the demographic opportunities in MENA in comparison to Global numbers (6,7).

Understandably, most of the investment in the region is in the payments and remittances verticals. Here are some interesting figures for the remittances space (8).

And as a result, this makes sense…..

The UAE, in particular, is a driving force in remittances thanks to its expatriate (expat) population, which represents roughly 90% of the country’s total population. Even more interesting is seeing the remittance as part of the countries GDP.

In 2019, Bahrain, the UAE, and other GCC countries were among the most penetrated markets in the world. Here are the relevant areas where they ranked favorably for fintech opportunities (10).

In the next blogs, we will deep dive in each country to understand the massive steps that have been taken in advancing Fintech, and what this all means post Covid-19.


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