According to The Economist, financial technology attracted US$12 billion in investments in 2014- so yes, the fintech revolution is coming and the Middle East is not falling behind. At Wamda’s 2016 Mix N’ Mentor event in Cairo in March, online gateway PayFort announced the launch of its regional fintech accelerator Fintech Factory.
Ignited by the increasing demand for fintech in the region, PayFort Managing Director Omar Soudodi says the accelerator was launched “in order for PayFort to continue meeting the demands of our merchants that use us across six markets in the region (and growing). We needed to innovate faster, and we realized we can’t innovate fast enough alone, thus investing and collaborating with fintech startups will enable us to meet market demands faster.” In the next couple of months, the first phase of companies will participate in the first run of the program.
So what does it take to be eligible for the accelerator? Soudodi says that startups need to be in fintech and relevant to PayFort’s merchant base, and that it’s also open to SMEs in various business lifecycles from ideation to scaling and either pre-production to post production. And in return, what can prospective ‘treps expect from this accelerator? Startups can receive up to $100,000 during the first phase, with the opportunity to possibly receive additional funds through Fintech Factory’s investment partners at later stages.
Soudodi also adds, “Startups will be undergoing the due diligence process, at which they will be receiving an analysis of their current readiness from regulatory, commercial, marketing, financial, operational and technical [level] that will become their roadmap while interacting with Fintech Factory coaches- either PayFort personnel or Fintech Factory Advisors.”
Participants will also be able to access PayFort’s bank and merchant networks around the region. The accelerator is planning to onboard banks “that are willing to work with fintech startups,” and advisors from PayFort and experts from M&A, VC, regulatory and other industries and skills to support startups. Though the fintech accelerator would only intake between three and four startups per year, Soudodi assures us that they will constantly be on the lookout for startups and ideas that “solve a problem in this space, [and] display high relevancy in fulfilling a certain demand.”