5 fintechs to watch in the Middle East

 Shaikah Aldawood photo
Shaikah Aldawood Customer Strategist
3min read

The financial services sector in the Middle East has seen a surge in both innovation and investment in recent years, showing signs that 2024 will be a big year for its fintech scene. 

But what brands do you need to watch out for?

In this article, we're spotlighting 5 fintech brands in the Middle East that are catching our eye. Whether they’re newcomers or established players, these companies are making waves in an exciting way. 

We'll share insights from our 11:FS Ventures and 11:FS Pulse experts, offering a deep dive into these brands from both a digital perspective and a UX one.


#1 Fawry

First up is Fawry, a leading provider of digital payments out of Egypt. So, what stands out to our experts? 

  • Fawry has been instrumental in digitising payments in Egypt, a country with a traditionally low banking penetration, which has contributed significantly to financial inclusion​.
  • It has ambitions of catering to a far wider audience, evidenced by services like payments, transfers, loan applications, taxes, and fines being added to MyFawry which is moving towards super app territory.
  • The platform serves a diverse range of clients, from individual consumers to large enterprises and financial institutions, and has plans to expand into the Gulf region.
  • Earlier this month, a partnership with PayMe was announced that will see the facilitation of e-payments for Egyptian expatriates worldwide.


#2 meem

Next up is the Middle East's first totally Shariah-compliant digital banking offering, meem, and its app's excellent UX that our 11:FS Pulse team wants to shout out.

  • First launched in KSA before expanding into Bahrain, meem combines digital and traditional banking through its leading mobile app with services like current and savings accounts, personal finance, and card management.
  • The consistent high-quality visual design of the meem app provides an engaging user experience for its customers. The blend of captivating micro-interactions and unique graphics adds enjoyment and delight to the journey, invoking a positive emotion for those exploring the app.
  • meem also does an excellent job of simplifying the user interface. Subtle progress indicators, simple but effective iconography, and bold graphics where appropriate (notably the cards on the accounts page) greatly enhance usability, helping users navigate the platform easily and efficiently.
  • One journey that stands out is 'Exploring the transactions and spending features'. Here, users are given a comprehensive view of their finances, facilitating effortless analysis of spending behaviours. Visually striking graphs help to derive quick insights, whilst categorising expenditures and analysing discretionary spending empowers users to identify areas to optimise their spending decisions.


#3 Rasan

Third on our list is Rasan. Primarily serving the KSA market, Rasan provides a range of digital platforms aimed at simplifying and enhancing the entire value chain within the insurance and banking sectors.

The fintech caters to a diverse audience including individual consumers seeking insurance, SMEs requiring health insurance for employees, insurance companies, banks, and other financial institutions involved in auto leasing.

Here's what else excites our Ventures experts about Rasan and the work its team is doing:

  • Initiating the first online insurance aggregator, Tameeni, Rasan tackled the cumbersome and time-consuming process of purchasing motor insurance head-on. This innovation not only made insurance more accessible but also set a precedent for digital transformation in the industry.
  • Rasan is on a path of continuous innovation. Its disruption of traditional insurance purchasing processes and introduction of the first online auction platform for salvage and repossessed vehicles marks them as a leader in the fintech and insurtech industries.
  • Through flagship products like Tameeni for motor insurance aggregation, Awalmazad for vehicle auctions, Tameeni Health for SME health insurance, and Treza for auto lease insurance, Rasan facilitates easier, faster, and more transparent transactions for individuals and businesses alike.
  • Their impact on the insurance and banking sectors, by streamlining processes and enhancing efficiency, indicates potential for scaling their model to new markets and services, offering exciting possibilities for innovation and collaboration.


#4 STC Pay

Under the spotlight next is STC Pay, the KSA-based mobile wallet and its app’s UX that has caught the eye of our 11:FS Pulse team. Here’s what the team had to say:

  • STC Pay’s consistency with its visually appealing design across the platform is impressive. Its homepage dashboard is clean and uncluttered, featuring bold, easy-to-identify cards that facilitate quick actions for users making domestic or international payments, adding money or paying bills.
  • The app has placed considerable focus on fostering trust with its users, highlighting partnerships with reputable service providers like Western Union for international transfers. Additionally, it has enhanced security controls for adding and sending money without significantly disrupting the flow of the process.
  • We'd like to highlight one journey in particular: 'managing international money transfers'. The dashboard prominently features the international transfer quick action card, ensuring users can effortlessly access and utilise the feature for sending money abroad. A simple interface offering concise details - especially the exchange rate from SAR to INR - enables users to complete their transactions smoothly without being overwhelmed by excessive information.
  • Looking ahead, the recent announcement of a strategic partnership with Mastercard will allow stc pay to introduce new card products and provide a streamlined digital experience while also fostering the usage of digital payments in the region.


#5 NearPay

Last but by no means least on our list is Nearpay. Based in Riyadh, the pioneering fintech company specialises in payment infrastructure solutions, focusing on simplifying in-person NFC card payments through its innovative SDK.

Here's why our team likes what they see:

  • NearPay's unique founding story, diverse team, and rapid adaptability in the fintech sector make them an intriguing brand to follow, promising continuous evolution and impact in the payment processing landscape.
  • The fintech stands out to our Ventures team for its innovative payment infrastructure solutions, making NFC card payments simple and secure for businesses. Its commitment to security, compliance, and broad platform support demonstrates its dedication to customer needs.
  • Dedicated to security, compliance, and supporting a wide range of platforms and languages, NearPay is a versatile choice for businesses looking to enhance their payment systems. The company offers flexible pricing, including a pay-as-you-go option, and has designed its services to be easily integrated within minutes, ensuring businesses can quickly adapt to modern payment methods.
  • NearPay's solutions cater to a wide range of clients within the financial space, including banks, payment providers, and SaaS startups. Although operations are currently limited to the Saudi Arabian market, a recent $14m Series A funding round is expected to go towards supporting several initiatives, with regional and global expansion being one.

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At 11:FS Ventures, we’ve helped launch more than 15 businesses worldwide. Our global experts have specialties across the board including engineering, embedded finance, customer experience and digital transformation. 

So, whether you’re looking to strategise, design, build or launch, in the Middle East or beyond, we’ve got the tools to help you accelerate change and win. 

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 Shaikah Aldawood
About the author

Shaikah Aldawood

Shaikah is a strategist within the 11:FS Ventures team and collaborates with clients to design and implement digital strategies. Her primary focus is crafting tailored solutions for banks globally, ensuring their specific needs are effectively addressed.