UAE Payment Tech Startup Qpal Is Winner of Visa Everywhere Initiative MENA Qpal beat 12 other finalists selected from a total of 190 entrants to emerge as winners of Visa's first-ever MENA edition of the Everywhere Initiative.

By Sindhu Hariharan

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Craig Buchan, founder and CEO, Qpal at an event

UAE-based Qpal, a tech startup that has developed a mobile payments solution to enable quicker and cashless purchases at events, has emerged the winner of Visa's Everywhere Initiative in MENA- a global program by Visa to discover next generation payment tech. Qpal beat 12 other finalists selected from a total of 190 entrants to emerge as winners of Visa's first-ever MENA edition of the Everywhere Initiative, and won a US$50,000 award- as winner of both the "Acceptance Challenge," and the overall prize. Qpal also gets an opportunity to work at Visa's Innovation Center in Dubai to refine their concept with the guidance of the VISA team.

Visa's Everywhere Initiative is aimed at discovering the next big thing in payments tech across three business challenges. These include Acceptance challenge- enabling electronic payments and e-commerce solutions among small merchants, Airport Transit- transforming transit experience at airports, and Loyalty challenge- tech that helps build customer loyalty. Swvl, an Egypt-based shuttle service tech platform won the Airport Transit challenge and $25,000. Bebuzzd, another UAE-based startup, a consumer loyalty app, won the Loyalty challenge and a $25,000 award.

Qpal team at in5. Image credit: Qpal.

"It was a really forward-thinking initiative run by Visa for the Middle East region, [and it was] great to be a part of its inception," says Craig Buchan, founder & CEO, Qpal, about the experience. Among the other technology solutions that pitched at the challenge, Buchan believes Qpal stood out as a team that explained what they can do for Visa in the collaboration. "For sure, as a partner we'll expect support along the way, but with a subtle difference in tone we made it crystal clear how big an opportunity the live events industry was for Visa, and we made it feel as though they could put their feet up, relax and know that Qpal will deliver results over time- which we will."

Shiv Singh, SVP - Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, Visa, said in a statement, "The future of digital payments will be shaped through collaboration, and we look forward to working with our startup partners to transform the payments landscape over the coming years to the benefit of consumers, merchants and issuers alike." According to Visa, nearly 1,500 fintech startups across the globe have been part of the Everywhere Initiative till date.

Shiv Singh, SVP Innovation & Strategic Partnerships at Visa.Image credit: Visa.
Winning startup Qpal aims to enhance live event experiences delivering cashless event experience to the user, and helping them avoid long queues for food and other buys with the app. With its B2B segment, Qpal says it can unlock data insights for enterprises, and create real-time marketing opportunities. Buchan founded the startup in early 2016, frustrated with the current pain points in the live events space, and the business, which came into existence in Scotland, soon felt the need to move their commercial arm to a new region. With "the highest smartphone penetration rate in the world, strong live events calendar for eight months of the year, and rapidly emerging fintech sector," Dubai and the UAE thus became the chosen region to base themselves in, and scale operations.

Related: Banking At Your Fingertips: The Rise And Rise Of Mobile Payments Technology

Sindhu Hariharan

Former Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Sindhu Hariharan is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.  She is a financial consultant turned business journalist with a FOMO when it comes to everything technology.

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