Homegrown Fintech Startup Dibsy Wants To Make Online Payments Easy And Seamless In Qatar (And Beyond)

Dibsy, a homegrown Qatar fintech enterprise, was founded on the premise of making processing online payments as simple as possible.

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As the Middle East region embraces digital transformation, the demand for seamless and quick online payments is rising. Dibsy, a homegrown Qatar fintech enterprise, was founded on this premise of making processing online payments as simple as possible. The startup is the brainchild of co-founders Ahmed Isse, Loyan Farah, and Anouar El Mekki, who, having founded previous ventures in Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, share similar experiences in the country’s digital technology space.

Dibsy
Dibsy team

As such, the trio are well aware of the hassle of setting up online payments- Isse, for instance, recalls the process to have been time-consuming, complex, and expensive. “We understood that there was a need in this market, because we felt the pain points firsthand, and we knew everyone else around us would be experiencing the same thing,” says Isse. This was confirmed when the co-founders sent feelers around in the ecosystem, and they soon realized how big the problem was. “We were all ready to start something new, and we felt that this could help a lot of businesses, as well as benefit from the digital economy, especially considering that three weeks after [our launch], the COVID-19 pandemic hit.”

And while the onset of the coronavirus pandemic did bring with it many challenges, the Dibsy team soon also saw a high demand for their offering, as businesses began to realize the significance of digitizing their businesses. “We saw this as an opportunity, and we doubled down on our efforts to build the product as fast as possible to serve all these merchants,” Isse says. Now, the company was founded in 2020; however, the team went live with their product in June 2021. Dibsy’s services were made to be simple: the venture offers online and offline businesses a platform to accept various forms of online payments through their website or app, with its plugins and application programming interfaces. Business owners can accept payments through websites, apps, or messaging platforms.

Ahmed Isse, co-founder, Dibsy

Your business doesn’t have a website? No problem, as Dibsy also has a feature for merchants who don’t have a digital presence, making it a highly beneficial tool for businesses who had not yet fully digitized their operations. With Dibsy, businesses can send payment links to customers using SMS, WhatsApp, email, or on social media platforms. Isse explains, “We do this with a pay-as-you-go model, with no set-up, maintenance, nor subscription fees. We make money when the merchant makes money, nothing is hidden, and everything is transparent.”

And the results speak for themselves- according to Isse, upon the launch of Dibsy’s live product, the market response was “overwhelmingly positive,” with merchants from a wide range of industries signing up to the waitlist. In terms of transaction volume, in just three days after launch, the team had already hit their first milestone of QAR10,000. “By the end of our first month, we grew to QAR100,000,” Isse adds. Serving an array of merchants, it’s worth noting that most of Dibsy’s clientele are accepting online payments for the first time ever.

Related: HEC Paris In Qatar Publishes First Comprehensive Review Of The Country's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Loyan Farah, co-founder, Dibsy

In October last year, the team announced Dibsy’s integration of Apple Pay to enable merchants to use it as a payment method. With the integration, businesses can accept online payments -local and international- from Apple Pay users, with them able to make use of Touch ID or Face ID features, instead of manually filling out payment forms. At the same time, supported by the Qatar Financial Centre, Dibsy was also able to raise US$300,000 in a pre-seed funding round, led by Salem Khalaf Al Mannai, with participation from local angel investors. “Recently, we signed three of the biggest e-commerce players in the country, and we expect 180x growth by the end of this year,” Isse adds.

Given the availability of several other digital payment solutions in Qatar and the region, one may wonder what makes Dibsy’s services a winning offering in the market. “We are a product-led company,” Isse replies. “We focus on what the user wants and needs, and our end goal is to innovate fast enough to meet market demand. This is something that we see lacking in the region, specifically in the Qatari market.” Whilst the venture competes with banks and other payment service providers, Isse points out that most of them offer white-labeled solutions, whereas Dibsy makes use of its own technology.

Anouar El Mekki, co-founder, Dibsy

With a product that was built keeping merchants in mind, Dibsy aims to truly focus on user experience for merchants and their customers. The co-founder also notes how the company’s name aligns with its goal- Dibsy is a play on the expression “call dibs,” which, for Isse and his team, means, “We help businesses claim ownership of their future by going digital.”

So, what’s the end goal? Isse states that the venture’s vision goes beyond payment processing. “We aim to build a new financial infrastructure to help Qatar and the MENA region keep up with the digital transformation that the world is undergoing,” he says. “We’re working towards a future where every penny spent in the MENA finds its way through our infrastructure.”

Related: Gateway To Growth: Monty Group's Mountasser Hachem Is Tapping Into The Multi-Billion Dollar Fintech Industry With MontyPay

'TREP TALK: Q&A with Ahmed Isse, co-founder, Dibsy

As someone who’s been an entrepreneur before, what has been the crucial mindset from your years of experience that you’ve kept in mind to uphold as you build Dibsy?

“Trial and error. You live and you learn. It can sound cliché, but it's very true and essential to understand that you won't get things right sometimes. Accepting that I can make mistakes, and focusing on what I can learn from them, is something I always come back to.”

What’s your advice for entrepreneurs building businesses in the MENA region?

“There are three things that I think are worth mentioning. First of all, having a technical co-founder is a must, and it helps in moving fast. Building a company is not easy, and having the right founding team can go a long way. Secondly, focus on what the user wants, rather than what we think they want. And finally, learn how to be patient. Things can move really slowly for a startup in the early days, especially in our industry, given how regulated it is.”

Related: Pursuing Progress: Murshed Al Redaini, Group CEO, Yas Holding

Pamella de Leon

Written By

Pamella de Leon is the Startup Section Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is keen on the MENA region’s entrepreneurship potential, with a specific interest to support enterprises and individuals creating an impact.