Launched in 2019 by Hosam Arab, Tabby is a UAE-based fintech startup that offers a “buy now, pay later” solution that allows for consumers to easily purchase items whenever they want, while also keeping in mind the state of their personal finances. “We want to give customers who value the convenience of cash on delivery(COD) an alternative that is even more convenient for them, which still allows them to purchase online without having to pay by credit card at checkout, yet doesn’t require them to pay in cash at the door,” Arab says. “We also want to give customers the ability to split payments for their purchases over time, without the burdens and costs associated with applying and carrying a credit card. These value propositions held true before COVID-19, and hold true today.”
With consumers in the UAE shifting towards online shopping in the wake of the crisis, Arab says that the desire to expand the business to new markets only increased. “The importance of a solution that addresses slowing consumer demand became even more apparent,” he says. Unsurprisingly, the original business model needed almost no modifications to function in this new environment where there was a greater shift to e-commerce from offline retailers. “Our business model hasn’t really changed, and with the Tabby team spread over three countries (UAE, KSA, and Russia) from day one, working remotely was something we did by design,” says Arab. “We just needed to ensure that the tools and processes enabling easy communication and knowledge sharing were available.”
But this rapid change in pace in the online shopping market meant that Tabby had to adapt just as quickly. So, while many companies were laying off employees during the crisis, Tabby was hiring new ones. “Now as we go to market in the UAE and KSA, expand our partner reach out, and address new verticals, we naturally expect to make some adjustments as well as introduce new exciting products, but our value proposition of providing what customers want, when they want them, while staying in control of their finances will always be at the core of what we do.”
While the business model and employee turnover rate remained largely unscathed, so did the enterprise’s digital communication channels with consumers. What did change, however, was the communication with merchant partners. “When we first started reaching out to our clients, pre COVID-19, we found it important to have face-to-face meetings to explain the solution, walk them through the customer journey, and essentially sell them on the concept,” Arab says. “However, we’ve adapted, and so we have all our partners moving this process entirely online, and to be honest, to our surprise, it has worked exceptionally well. We’ve always used digital tools to prospect and qualify potential clients. However, now, the entire sales process has moved online, including pitching and demos to contract signing and onboarding. It’s been incredibly efficient.”
With a shift towards more online interactions in an already digitized industry, Arab believes that the new normal is incredibly efficient for interactions with both consumers and merchant partners, and is something that will be continued in the long run. When asked about how the new changes will affect future endeavors for Tabby, Arab remains enthusiastic. “We have now also launched in KSA, which is, by far, the biggest e-commerce market in the region,” he says. “We have a number of exciting products in plan that we will be announcing as they become ready. We will be adding more products in the short-term and expanding to new verticals as well. The current reality has shown us that we’re able to effectively adapt, grow, and run our business, while also fundraising, despite the challenging environment surrounding us, which has served to further strengthen our belief in our mission.”
“WE GOT FUNDED!”
The current funding round has helped Tabby in its aim to bring out the shopaholic in all of us. The fintech business that allows customers to pay later has acquired $7 million in a fresh round of funding to help it expand and enter the Saudi Arabian market. Raed Ventures, MSA Capital, and preexisting investor Arbor Ventures all participated in the round as co-lead investors.
Launched in 2019 with an initial $2 million in seed funds, Tabby allows consumers to easily buy products with a deferred payment solution, while also helping retailers increase their sales by offering their customers flexible options. Commenting on Raed Ventures’ involvement in the startup’s funding round, Founding Partner Saed Nashef says, “Hosam and his team have built an impressive product that structurally solves key friction points in a transaction for both consumers and merchants, which is especially relevant given the current pandemic.”
Tabby’s Pay Later option is an alternative to cash on delivery wherein customers can purchase products online merely using their mobile phone number and email address, with no pre-registration or credit card required, and pay in up to 14 days later without interest. Meanwhile, its Pay in Installments option offers flexibility to users in multiple, interest-free installments of two, three, or six months, which can be paid with either a debit or credit card. The startup does not charge customers with a fee or interest and generates revenue through the merchants.
Tabby has, so far, partnered with over 20 regional e-commerce retailers, some of which includes Mr. Draper, Bare Essentials, Farah Asmar, Gold Scent and others. It also recently signed an agreement with MENA retail conglomerate Apparel Group to offer its solution across the group’s entire online portfolio, which consists of 6thStreet, Aeropostale, Tommy Hilfiger, and Aldo.
Given how the COVID-19 crisis has influenced consumers’ purchasing behavior, the UAE-based startup now aims to “empower consumer spending, increase customer loyalty and open up retailers to new customers across the region” with its payment solution. Arab notes how the current situation has expedited the move for both e-commerce merchants and consumers alike as retailers rush to set up or expand their digital presence and customers start shopping more online.
His advice to entrepreneurs fundraising amid the COVID-19 pandemic is pretty straightforward: “Preserve cash, hire cautiously, remain flexible and humble, and reach out to investors who understand your business model, and as such, can add value and are more comfortable making investments.”