Fintech start-up Stripe enters the Middle East with UAE launch

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

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

“The opportunity for start-ups in the UAE is enormous,” Matt Henderson, Stripe’s business lead for Europe, Middle East, Africa told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Monday in an exclusive interview. “The opportunity for Stripe is very large as well.”

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

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

Why Dubai?

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

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

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

Commuters drive along Sheikh Zayed Road past commercial and residential properties in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.Christopher Pike | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Lockdown measures across the globe helped accelerate e-commerce, and the UAE is no exception. According to the International Trade Administration, the UAE’s e-commerce market is forecast to be valued at $27.1 billion by 2022.

“We’ve already seen just last year more than $600 million of investment into start-ups in the UAE,” Henderson told CNBC. “The ingredients are there for a much, much bigger trajectory.”

“You’ve got this combination of talent, of investment, and entrepreneurship as well,” he