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"We Got Funded!" UAE-Based Youth-Focused Banking Platform Cashee Raises US$3 Million In A Series A Round To Accelerate KSA Expansion With the capital infusion, Arab National Bank has also acquired an undisclosed stake in the startup.

By Pamella de Leon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Aiedh AlZahrani, COO and Head of Retail Banking Group, Arab National Bank, and Brad Whitfield, co-founder of Cashee

Cashee, a UAE-based digital banking platform tailored for teenagers in the MENA region, has raised US$3 million in a Series A funding round led by Arab National Bank (ANB). With the capital infusion, ANB has also acquired an undisclosed stake in the startup.

Founded in 2020 by Brad Whittfield and Smeetha Ghosh, Cashee is on a mission to encourage financial literacy and financial inclusion for youth in the MENA region. Headquartered in Dubai, Cashee offers a Visa prepaid card and digital banking applications (available for Android and and iOS devices) for teens aged 13 years and above. It also offers a digital knowledge platform for teens to learn personal finance skills and money management habits, while also providing parents with control over their children's transactions on its mobile applications.

Since its launch, Whittfield notes the Cashee app has been downloaded in the UAE approximately 90,000 times, with it also seeing over 40,000 sign ups. In March of this year, the team also joined Visa International's Fintech Fast Track Program, enabling the startup to take advantage of Visa's global network for its business.

Commenting on the new funds, Whittfield states that it will be used for Cashee's expansion plans in KSA, and thus, make its solutions and products available to a new market of younger generations and teens. Whittfield also notes that partnering with ANB, considered one of the most prestigious banking institutions in the region, is a definite advantage and catalyst that will help them achieve their expansion goals. "It's more of a strategic investment relationship, unlike [a] VC, which is focused on exit," he adds.

The partnership also aligns with ANB's efforts on the bank's digital transformation journey and further expand the scope of financial inclusion, says Aiedh AlZahrani, COO and Head of Retail Banking Group, ANB. "The partnership between ANB and Cashee aims to develop the first banking application of its kind in Saudi Arabia that promotes the financial culture among Saudi youth, in a way that will encourage savings, financial literacy and other worthwhile goals, as a contribution from the bank to achieving one of the primary goals of Vision 2030," AlZahrani says.

"The MENA youth market is very large," Whittfield says, when asked about the potential of a fintech platform catered for teenagers. "In KSA, we are targeting 9-19 years old, which represents over 6 million and close to 18% of the total population." He also notes that the youth market remains completely untapped, given the historical restrictions on how teenagers can open a bank account, as well as the high penetration for digital adoption among the younger generation.

As for fellow entrepreneurs who are looking to raise funds currently in the ecosystem, Whittfield candidly shares the importance of obtaining capital as needed. "As with all financial products, there are a lot of inherent dependencies and regulatory approvals required," he says. "This is a good thing- if it were easy, everyone would do it. However, the time it takes to navigate the white-water rapids of the fintech ecosystem needs a decent amount of seed funding."

Plus, Whittfield also highlights the significance of having well-rounded team. "Digital payment knowledge is beyond paramount. Having a great team is great, but I can safely say that our collective track record in the payments space and relationships in the ecosystem was critical for our fundraising success." Whittfield's final piece of advice for entrepreneurs is to always look to the long-term: "Think two years ahead, constantly."

Related: We Got Funded: Dubai-Based Eat App Concludes A US$11 Million Series B Round

Pamella de Leon

Startup Section Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

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.

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