UAE-based FinTech start-up Now Money has received funding worth $700,000 from two US based venture capital investors, it announced on Tuesday.
The investors included Accion Venture Lab, a seed-stage investment initiative of Accion, and Newid Capital.
Launched in 2015, Now Money uses mobile banking technology to provide financial inclusion to low-income migrant workers in the GCC region.
The mobile banking app offers direct access to a current account, debit card and remittance services, bringing financial inclusion to low income workers and empowerment to the unbanked – estimated at 26 million people in the region.
The latest investment comes a year after the company’s initial seed funding, which was used to expand the team and develop the technology and brand.
The new round of funding – also a part of its seed round – will be used to launch the service across the UAE and expand into the other GCC countries, a statement said.
“Each year, migrant workers contribute more than $400bn to their home economies, and the UAE is among the top remittance-sending countries in the world,” said Michael Schlein, CEO and president of Accion.
Amee Parbhoo, director of Investments at Accion Venture Lab added: “Our partnership with Now Money marks a number of firsts for Accion Venture Lab – our first investment in the Middle East region, our first investment into a wholly-digital neobank, and our first opportunity to focus on reaching low-income migrant workers.”
Meanwhile, Ian Dillon, co-founder of Now Money, said the funding marks the first early stage investment from US venture capital into the Middle East.
“This is testament to the opportunities available here and how far the GCC has come in making itself a destination for investment,” he said.
“We hope this will be the first of many US venture capital investments in the region, and will help to grow the ecosystem further.”
Several regional startups have seen increased funding in recent months.
Middle East and North Africa start-ups attracted $140m in investment through 87 transactions in the first half of the year, excluding online shopping platform Souq.com and ride app Careem, a recent report by start-up community platform Magnitt found.
The company said the region was in line to match if not exceed last year’s funding in start-ups, with e-commerce (16 per cent), technology (13 per cent) and fintech (10 per cent) the most attractive sectors for investors.