Dubai-based start-up Mamo Pay is looking to transform the way payment transfers are made.
Founded by three former Google employees – Mohammad El Saadi, Asim Janjua, and Imad Gharazeddine – the fintech raised $1.5 million in a seed round last year.
When did you come up with the idea of Mamo Pay or realise there was a gap in the market for the business?
Mamo Pay is made in the Middle East and was born when we realised that we were not keeping up with the rest of the world.
We went out to address a practical issue and discovered a chance to improve an area and culture. We searched for a method of payment that was easier, quicker, and nicer. Simple tasks like returning a friend’s favour were challenging, or just having cash on hand was inconvenient. In contrast to other places where consumers may settle payments using their phone numbers, in many situations bank transfer was the sole alternative.
Everything we do at Mamo Pay begins with authentic human connection and understanding our consumers’ true needs.
To deliver the right message and promise, we started with creating our own tailored survey to research the key trends and developments in the way people pay in the UAE. We found that 87 percent of regional respondents had challenges with money transfers and 89 percent were unhappy with the existing solutions available to them.
We aim to simplify daily financial transactions in the region by striving to make payments instant, convenient, transparent and as low cost as possible. The future generation, especially millennials, demand tools and services that offer personalisation and embedded utility features that would use daily and most importantly a platform that they can depend on and trust.
We are in a time where there is an accelerated demand and need for intuitive online payment solutions and by building those we can create a meaningful and strong relationship with our users.
Why is now the right time to launch?
Even before the pandemic, the UAE and the Middle East overall were already on the journey to a cashless society. The MENA Digital Payments Market is expected to witness CAGR of 6.5 percent over the forecast period 2020-2025.
If we just focus on the numbers for P2P payments, there was already a projection to grow from $22 billion in 2019 to $115bn (almost five-times) by 2023 for the Middle East as a whole.
Covid has served as a catalyst to this journey because of two reasons: 1) increasing adoption of digital all across (social platforms as well as e-commerce) by individuals and businesses; and 2) an increasing preference to deal with fewer physical exchanges as possible.
Something interesting we started observing was that people are now going to the next level of cashless – which is completely contactless. To give you an idea of the extent at which this has picked up – in KSA, in Mar 2019, only about 35 percent of the point-of-sale (POS) transactions were contactless, whereas by March 2020, that number had increased to 85 percent and it’s a very similar trend in the UAE.
Additionally, the region is quite unique in the sense of relatively low levels of financial inclusion, around 30-40 percent only, while at the same time you have quite a bit of financial infrastructure already here – from number of banks serving the market (local and international), to POS penetration and so we are trying to bridge the gap between the banked and unbanked which becomes even more important as the banked seek to go even more cashless.
Where will Mamo Pay be available?
Mamo Pay digital wallet app is already available on Android and iOS. We are currently available only in the UAE and you can use it to send money to anyone within the country. We are also working on some exciting developments to our product, so watch this space for more.
Is the company bootstrapped or have you raised capital from investors? Can you take us through your funding journey?
In 2020, we secured $1.5 million in a funding round led by Global Founders Capital (GFC) with participation from Global Ventures, VentureSouq, MSA Capital, Dubai Angel Investors (DAI), 500 Startups and some angel investors to streamline peer-to-peer (P2P) payments in the UAE and the wider Middle East region.
It was quite a rewarding experience with a focus on how we have built our corporate culture, our business model and how we ensure the safety of our users working with regulators in the region. With the financial and strategic backing of our investors, we can further position Mamo Pay to scale with purpose.
You have been part of Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Program, how big a help was this to getting where you are today?
Being part of Visa’s FinTech Fast Track Program will allow us to reach a wider audience and accelerate cashless adoption in Mamo Pay’s key markets. Furthermore, by tapping into Visa’s growing partner network, we can achieve instant scalability and deliver an intuitive, fast and effortless payments service to users and businesses across the region while benefiting from the capabilities and security of VisaNet, Visa’s global payment network. Through this strategic collaboration, our team has access to industry experts, technology, and new resources that rapidly growing companies need to scale with efficiency in line with our vision to promote financial inclusion in the MENA region.
Where would you like to see the company in the next five years?
At the heart of every decision we make at Mamo Pay, whether in our designs, product, software, or relationships, is trust. Every day, we work hard to earn and retain the trust of our employees, our users, our partners and our regulators. So in short, we would like to be the most trusted fintech company in the region in the next five years.
Expansion is definitely part of the plan so we are able to be at the forefront of the payments scene in the wider MENA region through partnerships and collaborations.