MENA Region’s Neobanking Fintech Zywa Finalizes $3M Seed Round

Zywa, a teen-focused fintech aiming to “re-imagine” banking for Gen Z in the MENA region, has completed a seed funding round of $3 million.

Investors who took part in the investment round reportedly “include Goodwater Capital (the largest consumer tech VC globally), Dubai Future District Fund (venture capital fund of funds of Dubai, anchored by Dubai International Financial Centre and Dubai Future Foundation), Rebel Fund, Trampoline Venture Partners, Zemu VC, and some of the most prominent European family offices, as well as strategic angel investors.”

The funding shortly followed the company’s pre-seed round of US$1M “raised in Feb 2022.”

The seed round also brings the YC-backed startup “to a valuation that exceeds 110M AED, despite the current economic downturn.”

Founded in 2021 by entrepreneurs Alok Kumar and Nuha Hashem, who were born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Zywa claims it is “bringing a unique solution to the region by offering a gamified community-based banking app and payment card to Gen Z between the age of 11-25 years old.”

In just 4 months of the pre-seed round, Zywa reportedly “received 100,000+ signups. Gamification, community events, rewards and referrals contributed to the company’s rapid growth, in addition to integrating with more than 1,000+ brands tailored exclusively for Gen Z.”

Alok Kumar, co-founder and CEO stated:

“Gen Zs in the UAE spend about AED5 billion+ every year and still rely on cash or their parents’ cards despite having options like supplementary cards issued by their parents’ banks. While these options give access to digital payments, they are not fundamentally designed for Gen Z, and this is where we add value. We are Gen Z building for Gen Z and aim to grow our product as they grow, to be the only financial services platform they will ever need.”

Alok added:

“We are extremely proud to have global VCs such as Goodwater Capital, who is one of the early backers of Monzo, joining the round and investing for the first time in the region. The seed fund will help us focus on product, growth and strategic partnerships to accelerate our efforts in the UAE and Egypt markets while prepping us to launch in Saudi Arabia by early 2023.”

Nuha Hashem, co-founder and CTO, remarked:

“With Gen Z, we need to hit the nail on the sweet spot between community, gamified learning and payment access. The Zywa app is already facilitating all of the above and this can be seen in the 4.8+ star rating on the App Store, as well as 85%+ of our users being active on a weekly basis while 90% of our discord users interact with us on a daily basis. The seed round will help us create more product initiatives to give the best possible experience to our Gen Z users while building their financial literacy.”

Nuha also mentioned:

“We want them to experience banking in a cool way that sets a high standard for them in the future. This funding will also help us tailor the product to a new audience in my home country (Egypt) and the country where I grew up (Saudi Arabia). We are proud to have a product that is localized to the MENA region and that Gen Z can resonate with.”

Sharif El-Badawi, CEO of Dubai Future District Fund, stated:

“Access to and literacy of financial services across emerging markets is an essential need for an astonishingly large percentage of the population, and a core part of our investment strategy at DF2. In mature markets, both of these aspects start at a young age and Zywa’s strategic focus on older teens to 20-year-olds in the MENA region is clear to see from their product positioning and approach to tech stack choices.”

He added:

“Alok and Nuha are among the rarest of founders these days, combining authenticity with a hardcore product and tech DNA. Their product vision and customer centricity are spot-on and are evident through their hyperactive user engagement. We couldn’t be more proud of being a part of their journey.”

Backed by Y Combinator, as well as prestigious governmental accelerators in UAE such as DIFC’s Fintech Hive and Mubadala’s Hub71, Zywa is “creating a community of teens in the UAE who can connect and network with each other, while building their financial literacy.”

Zywa has “launched a number of community programs such as internships, influencer partnerships, community events and more with key public and private sector entities in the UAE.”

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