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Startup Spotlight: Here's How UAE-Based Appro Is Simplifying Customer Onboarding For Banks In its current iteration, the platform is able to help its users find for themselves the right credit cards, home loans, personal loans, as well as car loans.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

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

Tarek Osman, Iftekhar Salim, and Antofelix Rajan, co-founders, Appro

This article is part of an ongoing series covering startups that have been a part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) accelerator program.

Customer onboarding at corporate banks can be tedious- and one doesn't necessarily need to read up on the latest studies to understand this somewhat globally shared experience! But this is indeed what research shows as well- as per a 2022 report by McKinsey & Co., more than 40% of the time a customer spends onboarding at a bank is consumed by know your customer (KYC) due diligence and account opening alone. It was thus to address this issue of customer onboarding at banks in the UAE that fintech startup Appro was created.

"Typically, customer onboarding at banks is a very long complicated process with a lot of documentation, manual analytics, and approvals, which makes it a very expensive process from not just the bank's point of view, but also an extremely unpleasant customer experience," says Iftekhar Salim, co-founder and CEO of Appro. "Having worked for a bank in the past, my co-founders and I saw the opportunity to create a solution that would solve it for the whole industry. The Appro platform offers the ability to provide instant approval for banking clients with zero documentation and/ or manual activities."

Officially launched in March 2022, Appro went live with the first iteration of its application in December of the same year. In its current iteration, the platform is able to help its users find for themselves the right credit cards, home loans, personal loans, as well as car loans. "For a user to find the best financial product in town, they must come to, and submit an application, following which, instantly, Appro will identify what are the products that best fit their profile, and maximize the benefits," Salim says. "The Appro software then helps banks by automating the approval process, hence improving conversion and operational efficiency."

Related: Startup Spotlight: Hong Kong-Based ViAct Is On A Mission To Create A Safer Work Environment In Risk-Prone Industries

Antofelix Rajan, Iftekhar Salim, and Tarek Osman, co-founders, Appro. Source: Appro

When it comes to matching users with the right banks, the Appro model also allows users to choose and compare the additional rewards that come with each of the above services. For example, when it comes to credit cards, features such as cash back deals, air miles and discounts can be compared against each other to choose the best credit card for one's needs and requirements. On the other hand, the personal loan services from Appro -which, as per Salim, require only five minutes to complete the initial application- offer competitive pre-approved loan offers from multiple lenders within 24 hours, so that users can select the right loan package.

But Appro's final model is far from done, and according to Salim, the startup's participation in the MBRIF Accelerator Program has ensured that he and his team stay committed to their offering's continued improvement. "This is an ever-evolving product," he says. "There is an ongoing loop of iterations on new features and functionalities to ensure that the user is getting the maximum out of the experience. And so, for us, the mentoring and support to reach out to subject matter experts in different fields to close any knowledge gap we have is one of the main reasons we choose to join the MBRIF program."

Already, Appro's services have found favor among nine entities -including banks, financial institutions, and startups- in Dubai. And the startup's growth in the Emirate so far has set the template for its future endeavors as well, says Salim. "At Appro, all of this started with a team of three co-founders, and now, we are a team of over 15," Salim says. "A unique benefit about operating in Dubai, and the UAE in general, is having a supportive ecosystem that is built to drive innovation, and supporting ventures to disrupt the status quo. It is clearly visible when dealing with the government or private sector, the openness and the willingness to experiment and change is special to the UAE. And that is certainly what will play a key role in our journey ahead!"

Related: Startup Spotlight: UAE-Based Faceki Is On A Mission To Ensure Effective And Easier Online Customer Fraud Prevention

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is particularly keen on writing stories involving people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

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