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Abdulla Al Kamda Hopes To Revamp The Customer Rewards Model With The Launch Of His UAE-Based Cash Back Platform Homie Set to be launched in the final quarter of 2023, Homie offers consumers the opportunity to earn cash back every time they pay a merchant affiliated with the brand.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed Edited by Aby Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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

Abdulla Al Kamda, founder, Homie

When Abdulla Al Kamda observed how rising consumer prices and the repercussions of global inflation weighed heavy on the average UAE consumer's personal finances, he found himself pondering on potential solutions for alleviating such worries. And that's what led this Emirati entrepreneur to build Homie, a cash back platform that would not just ease daily financial strains, but also prove to be a worthy companion to its users- a homie, if you will. "Homie is not just a platform; it's a revolutionary 'super' cash back platform acting as a constant financial ally to the users," Al Kamda says. "The word 'homie' is used to refer to a close friend, and that's precisely the role we envisage our platform playing in our users' lives - a reliable and supportive friend that is there for them, helping them make the most out of their financial interactions and daily transactions. Its inception is therefore deeply rooted in a vision to reshape consumer experiences, allowing them to transform their essential spending habits into essential earning habits, fostering financial well-being and autonomy."

Set to be launched in the final quarter of 2023, Homie offers consumers the opportunity to earn cash back every time they pay a merchant affiliated with the brand. Operating across services in retail, dining, lifestyle and hospitality, the startup has already signed partnerships with 200 merchants, which include regional hospitality giants like Atlantis The Palm, Sofitel Hotels and Resorts, and Four Seasons. "Our fundamental business model is to ensure that cash back is seamlessly integrated and accessible across a multitude of services and verticals inspired by the daily life of our users," Al Kamda says. "We charge a minimal subscription fee of AED30 per month from our users. This fee is structured to be user-friendly, and it is easily recoverable, thanks to the substantial cash back percentages that Homie offers. Users typically recover the subscription cost within the first two transactions each month, making it a value-for-money proposition for them. And so, whether you're enjoying a meal at a restaurant, indulging in retail therapy, experiencing enriching lifestyle services, or staying at top-notch hotels, Homie ensures that every experience is rewarding with cash that is actually accessible."

Source: Homie

Now, if you're quick to assume that Homie is just another rewards platform, then perhaps Al Kamda's claim that his platform "doesn't have competitors in this space" might make you want to reconsider. "Homie stands out in a crowded market of reward and loyalty services by redefining the essence of rewards- we're not just another loyalty platform; we're a 'must-have,'" Al Kamda says. "The level of cash back we offer is unparalleled, extending unprecedented value to every user. But the distinctiveness of Homie doesn't just stop at high percentages of cash back; it's about the immediacy and the tangibility of the rewards. Our model is 'Cash Bank,' meaning the cash back is not just points or credits; it's real money deposited directly into the users' wallets. This makes us the pioneer in transforming rewards into immediate financial empowerment for the customer."

Here, Al Kamda adds that Homie's model also makes it a more enticing option in comparison to perhaps the most used rewards tools in the UAE: discounts and coupons. "The reason we believe so profoundly in cash back over discounts or coupons is its straightforward, tangible value," he continues. "Discounts and coupons come with conditions and limitations, and their value is often diluted. However, cash back -especially at Homie's rates- provides clear, immediate value, directly impacting and benefiting the users' financial well-being, making it a modern, user-centric reward model. For example, at the end of your dining experience, you choose to pay directly with the Homie app instead of any other payment option. The transaction goes through, and you will instantly receive the percentage of cash back in your wallet. You can choose to use your cash back in any way you want: you can save by collecting more cash back, you can pay your bills, or simply withdraw it back into your bank account."

Related: Envisioning The Future: Talal Moafaq Al Gaddah, Senior Executive Vice Chairman, MAG

But don't let the technicality of it all confuse you into thinking Homie is reserved for a certain type of consumer- Al Kamda says that the platform has been built for pretty much anyone looking to optimize their finances. "Whether you are a student, a working professional, or a retiree, if you seek value and savings in your everyday expenditures, Homie is your go-to platform," the founder declares. "By injecting the innovative concept of a 'super' cash back platform into this dynamic environment, we anticipate a ripple effect where consumers are more empowered and mindful in their spending, seeking value in every transaction. This not only reshapes consumer behavior, but also redefines the market landscape, pushing businesses to realign their strategies, with consumer well-being and value creation at the forefront."

Abdulla Al Kamda, founder, Homie. Source: Homie

Indeed, beyond the benefits offered to consumers, Homie's mission also encompasses the financial wellbeing and longevity of the merchants it partners with. "The relationships we forge with various merchants and service providers play a pivotal role in our business model," Al Kamda explains. "When merchants offer enticing cash back through Homie, they observe a significant surge in customer visits. This increased footfall is not just about numbers; it's about building relationships. It's about customers choosing them over competitors, because they feel valued and rewarded. Moreover, with every cash back redeemed, the customer acquisition cost for merchants decreases substantially. It's a cycle of giving and receiving. When merchants give back to the customers through lucrative cash back, customers reciprocate by becoming loyal patrons, often preferring them over others. This, in turn, elevates the merchant's brand presence and reputation in the market."

Having thus created a platform that can become a financial ally to those that make use of it, Al Kamda says the initial funding for the venture was solely from his personal savings. But in a heartwarming revelation, the founder adds that there's been yet another "inheritance" that has helped him realize his entrepreneurial vision. "I would add to this the invaluable life lessons from the cherished mindset of my late father, Ahmad Mohammad Al Kamda- a man whose values and wisdom continue to be the guiding light of my journey," the entrepreneur says. "He was a beacon of strength and resilience, and he always emphasized the importance of contributing to the well-being of our community. It's his teachings that inspired me to channel my funds into creating Homie, a platform that stands as a testament to his values, prioritizing community well-being and empowerment over personal gain. While the journey involved significant risks, the opportunity to honor my father's legacy, and make a lasting, positive impact was the driving force behind the inception of Homie."

Homie Dog, the brand's mascot serves as a symbol of friendship and loyalty, deeply rooted in the brand values of Homie. Source: Homie

As Al Kamda now prepares to see Homie officially enter the market, he seems to have already embraced the opportunity to navigate uncertain territory. "What excites me most is the potential impact of Homie on the everyday lives of the people in the UAE, and, eventually, globally," he says. "It's about creating a platform that empowers individuals financially, fosters a sense of community and mutual support, and reshapes consumer experiences in a way that brings tangible value and relief in the face of rising economic pressures. Moreover, the journey ahead promises continuous learning, innovation, and growth. Navigating the challenges, adapting to the evolving market needs, and staying ahead in delivering unmatched value is a thrilling prospect. It's about pushing the boundaries of what's possible, and setting new standards in the fintech space."

And at the heart of Al Kamda's vigor and entrepreneurial ambitions lie his hopes to honor his motherland, the UAE. "Embarking on this entrepreneurial journey with Homie is not just about realizing a personal vision; it's about giving back to the country that has provided me with immense opportunities and support," Al Kamda says. "So, the excitement [for the future] emanates from a deep sense of gratitude and responsibility to make a meaningful contribution to our community, and to elevate the technological landscape of our nation. The aspiration to see Homie become a prominent force in the global tech industry is going to be a journey of unwavering commitment to excellence, a relentless pursuit of impact, and a resolute vow to never stop until Homie stands as a testament to what is achievable when passion meets purpose, and gratitude converges with responsibility."

Related: Beyond Boundaries: Ethiopia-Headquartered Gebeya Is Making Its Way To Dubai With A Renewed Sense Of Purpose

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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