Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Stripe takes first step into Middle East with UAE expansion

Stripe, the $95-billion-valued paytech, has officially launched in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The expansion, which will see the firm open a new office in Dubai Internet City, marks Stripe’s first step into the Middle Eastern region.

Stripe UAE graphic

Digital payment transactions in the UAE during 2020 reached $18.5 billion

In terms of Stripe’s offering, the launch is two-fold. It will accept payments for UAE-based businesses, whilst also allowing Stripe’s millions of customers to accept payments from UAE customers.

Matt Henderson, Stripe’s EMEA business lead, also acknowledges the “strong investor appetite”, “internet-savvy consumers”, and “pool of tech talent” in the Middle East as reasons for the expansion.

In its press release announcing the launch, the fintech cites its pre-launch beta testing customers in the region. These include travel marketplace Illusions Online, meeting platform Aceplace, online restaurant hub ChatFood, and accounting software firm WeKeep.

Illusions Online used the beta to roll out its new fintech vertical, ‘iOL Pay’, across 40 countries in 135 currencies. The company’s founder and CEO, Faisal Memon, calls iOL Pay a “payments platform-as-a-service” offering.

Stripe claims more than 10,000 companies registered an interest in its UAE launch. “Stripe will initially queue invites to manage demand levels during the first weeks of availability in the UAE,” it says in a blog post published on Monday.

UAE market

The Middle East is one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets, as well as being a top remittance market. This means there’s money to be made on payments in the UAE.

Digital payment transactions in the UAE during 2020 reached $18.5 billion, according to the World Digital Report 2021.

The research, commissioned by the country’s Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority, also found individuals spend on average 7 hours and 24 minutes a day on the internet.

This matches the UAE’s reputation as one harbouring of the world’s top smartphone penetration rates. According to Global Media Insight data from last year, 92.17% of the population – that’s 9.06 million – are mobile internet users.

Ammar Al Malik, Dubai Internet City’s managing director, says “Stripe’s expansion to the UAE strengthens Dubai’s status as one of the world’s leading destinations for tech-enabled businesses”.

He adds that the fintech’s “arrival also bodes well for the growth and acceleration of the digital economy” in what he deems to still be a “young region”.

Stripe’s market entry is underpinned by a partnership with Network International,

Add it to the list

Last year, Stripe announced a series of new country launches. These included Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Malta. As well as Africa, via its acquisition of Nigerian technology start-up Paystack for $200 million.

In March, Stripe landed $600 million in funding which confirmed its valuation of $95 billion. The round made it one of the most valuable private company Silicon Valley has ever produced.

Stripe’s total raised to date is now more than $2 billion.

Of the now 43 countries – including the UAE – Stripe operates in, 31 sit in Europe. The fintech intends to use the fresh capital it landed last month to invest in its European operations, particularly its Dublin headquarters, where it intends to create 1,000 new jobs.

But it also intends to launch in Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Thailand, alongside the UAE, this year.

As well as focus on its enterprise play. The fintech has, to date, acquired 50 customers which process more than $1 billion in payments annually.

Stripe says enterprise revenue – which comes from companies such as Twilio and Zapier – is its “largest and its fastest growing segment”. It has more than doubled year-over-year. This year, Stripe will continue to pursue enterprise clients.

Read next: Stripe valuation rises to $115bn according to investors

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