Fintech Startup Stripe Enters Middle East With UAE Launch


One of the most valuable private fintech companies in Silicon Valley has chosen Dubai for its first expansion in the Middle East and North Africa.

Online payments company Stripe is expanding to the Middle East, just weeks after its latest round of funding, which raised the company’s value to $ 95 billion, making it one of the most valuable private fintech firms in the world. .

“The opportunity for startups in the UAE is huge,” Matt Henderson, Stripe’s business leader for Europe, Middle East and Africa, told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Monday in an exclusive interview. “The opportunity for Stripe is also very great.”

Stripe, founded in 2010 by two brothers from Ireland, competes directly with PayPal, Adyen and Square. Its software platform allows companies to accept payments online.

Co-founders Patrick and John Collison, who are 32 and 30 respectively, are each worth more than $ 11 billion.

Why Dubai?

“The UAE clearly has a booming digital economy,” Henderson told CNBC. Businesses operating online in the UAE can now use Stripe to accept payments online.

Gym management software Glofox, already a global Stripe user, said in a statement that Stripe’s launch in the UAE “may be a catalyst for global brands like ours to expand the products and services we can offer to fitness companies in the region. “

The benefit of bringing Stripe’s technology to Dubai, Henderson adds, is that “there are a lot of great local companies that haven’t gone global yet. One of the ways that will help them grow and therefore help them resonate with investors is to open up these new markets. “

Travelers drive along Sheikh Zayed Road past commercial and residential properties in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Christopher Pike | Bloomberg | fake images

Lockdown measures around the world helped speed up e-commerce, and the United Arab Emirates is no exception. According to the International Trade Administration, the UAE e-commerce market is forecast to be valued at $ 27.1 billion by 2022.

“We’ve already seen over $ 600 million of investment in startups in the UAE last year,” Henderson told CNBC. “The ingredients are there for a much, much greater trajectory.”

“You have this combination of talent, investment and also entrepreneurial spirit,” he added. “So we see that there will be a lot of interesting startups in the UAE.”

Careem’s ride-sharing app is displayed on an iPhone in a shopping mall in Dubai.

Christopher Pike | Bloomberg | fake images

The UAE is home to several regional success stories.

Dubai-based private transportation app Careem was bought by Uber for $ 3.1 billion in 2019. And Anghami, the first legal music streaming platform in the Middle East and North Africa, announced last month. which will be the first Arab technology company to be listed on Nasdaq in New York.

On the way to the IPO?

Stripe is reportedly the most valuable private company to come out of Silicon Valley after its valuation nearly tripled in less than a year. It’s worth more than Uber and Facebook were worth before going public.

Former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney sits on Stripe’s board, along with Christa Davies, chief financial officer for insurance company Aon.

Tesla founder Elon Musk and billionaire investor Peter Thiel were the first investors in Stripe.

Despite rumors that Stripe is ready to go public, Henderson told CNBC: “Actually, we are really focused on the growth mode, the investment mode and really serving our users.”

Henderson said the company aims to maintain “a culture of frugality, and we try to conserve our own resources and do things in the most automated way possible.”

While it is not yet known how many employees Stripe will add in the UAE, it plans to stick to its capital efficient model, Henderson said, adding: “I think that has served us well.”

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