Investor Forum kick starts the FinTech Abu Dhabi Festival 2019
Over 400 delegates gathered at Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Authorities Building in Abu Dhabi today to network and identify MENA’s next unicorn. The FinTech event, now in its third year, opened with the first Investor Forum.
Discussions included how to identify the unicorn of 2020, as well as how to navigate a potential 2020 financial crisis. Today also included a notable announcement from Mubadala, who launched to funds worth US$250mn for MENA-based startups.
Richard Teng, CEO of Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM said “Moving ahead, close to 500 FinTech companies in the Middle East will raise over USD 2 billion in venture capital funding in the next 3 years, based on a Milken Institute Report. And Abu Dhabi will be at the epicentre of this exciting development.”
“In the first half of 2019, the MENA region saw close to half a billion USD of VC (Venture Capital) funding in start-ups, excluding Souq and Careem. This is a 66% increase compared to the same period last year. More than a quarter of the funding was invested in the UAE, with the FinTech industry being the most vibrant sector, accounting for 17% of all deals done.
He shares that over 5,000 individuals will be in attendance over the two-day event.
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He added: “Great strides for FinTech have already been made in the MENA region, but there are massive opportunities for more. And there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings like today’s Forum to build closer ties, and find new ways to create value.”
The event is due to continue tomorrow at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) with His Excellency Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State (UAE) and Executive Chairman of ADGM, giving the opening speech. Delegates can expect keynote speeches and discussions on how to create a billion-dollar company, as well as the role of AI in fintech. There will be an awards ceremony for innovation as well as a contest designed for start-ups to pitch their ideas to Silicon Valley.
For more information on all topics fintech, please take a look at the latest edition of FinTech magazine.
Stripe backs Step - the digital bank for teens
The Series C round raised US$100m in capital from a number of backers, including Coatue, TikTok star Charli D’Amelio, actor Jared Leto, and Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, for the enterprise.
Step provides a free FDIC-insured bank account and Visa card to teenagers. The accounts are backed by Evolve Bank and there is no subscription charge for its usage. Users don’t pay for their accounts and there are also no overdraft fees.
The mobile banking app enables parents to set controls and limits on spending and encourage responsible finances. According to data released by the company, 88% of the platform’s users say this is their first bank account.
To date, Step has seen great success in the marketplace. The company has raised more than $175m from investors and now has 1.5m users.
Stripe, which was founded by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison, previously led Step’s $22.5m Series A round in 2019.
Step's Series B funding round also brought in $50m, and has a distinctly celeb-tinged reputation with investors including Justin Timberlake and the pop duo The Chainsmokers.
Users get access to a free, FDIC-backed bank account, a spending card and P2P payments platform to send and receive money instantly.
CJ MacDonald, chief executive of Step, said the company is aiming to improve the financial futures of the next generation. “Step is the only banking platform that enables teens to start building a positive credit history before they turn 18 and does not charge fees of any kind.
He has previously spoken about the importance of financial literacy for young people. “Money is just one of those things where I think the more educated and equipped you are early, the better decisions you can make down the road,” he told . “And you can also prevent yourself from making costly mistakes. I mean, the average American doesn't have $400 in emergency savings and pays $350 a year in banking fees. If we can help this next generation just ultimately be smarter and more educated as it pertains to money, I think we'll all be better off.”
Kyle Doherty, managing director at General Catalyst and Step board member, explained, “Gen Z is flocking to modern financial solutions that can be easily embedded within their digital lives and Step has a unique model for how to do this right.”
The news follows on from Stripe’s recent announcement that it plans to acquire TaxJar. The fintech, which builds software for online businesses that automates the reporting and filing of sales taxes, will most likely be integrated with Stripe’s billing services.
Currently, No terms have been disclosed but the Boston start-up had raised more than $60m from investors including Insight Partners.
Stripe chief financial officer Dhivya Suryadevara said of the move, “With TaxJar, we will help millions of internet businesses running on Stripe with their sales tax and make it easier for them to sell internationally.”