A recent report outlining the state of fintech in the Middle East takes a closer look at the fast-growing industry. The numbers show that Middle East fintech funding amounted to $1.5 billion, generating 130-150 deals and establishing 2000 new companies between 2021 and 2023. A total of 40 to 43 percent of the total share of startups are in the UAE. The report was released by red_mad_robot, a fintech, telecom, e-commerce, and industry firm.
The UAE, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain have the region’s largest market share of funding in fintech startups. These countries can be considered the fintech centers of the Middle East. Investments in fintech startups in 2023 show better results than in 2022. New digital services, e-banking, and digital payment solutions are on the receiving end of funding.
A recent report by McKinsey estimates that MENA fintech revenue could amount to close to $4.5 billion by 2025. This represents nearly three times the revenue generated in 2022.
Compared to global scale, the Middle East received only 1 percent of all global fintech investments from 2012 to 2022. Comparatively, around 45 percent of capital in fintech funds US startups.
What factors fuel the untapped potential?
First off, the Middle East is home to one of the largest unbanked populations in the world. Some 4.25 percent of the world’s unbanked adults live in the region. That creates a lot of space for e-banking, cryptocurrencies, and stock trading. Secondly, the population is heavily connected, and they are internet-savvy. That can be attributed to the fact that the average population is between 30 and 31 years old. Finally, policies and regulations are being put in place to accelerate the adoption of tech solutions. Furthermore, fintech hubs and free zones are incentivizing the development of tech companies across the Middle East.
In turn, digital payment solutions are rapidly growing in the Middle East, and more specifically, in the GCC. The transaction value of e-wallets was around 24 percent in 2022. The KSA, UAE, and Bahrain are leading the market. The firm, red_mad_robot, forecasts the value of real-time transactions to grow to $2.6 billion by 2027. Consequently, up from $675 million in 2022.
The fintech market in the Middle East is dominated by companies specializing in digital payments, cross-border payments, buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) services, and e-banking. According to the World Bank, the UAE and Saudi are ranked the world’s second and third largest remitters respectively. In 2020, the UAE transferred around $43 billion overseas.
The MENA region is quickly incorporating cryptocurrency into its markets. Users in the region received $566 billion in cryptocurrency from July 2021 to June 2022. This is a 48 percent increase from the previous year. Furthermore, global crypto companies like Binance and Crypto.com are opening satellite offices in Dubai.
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