News: UAE’s first independent digital banking platform launches.
DUBAI (Reuters) – The first independent digital banking platform in the United Arab Emirates launched on Sunday. This neobank hopes to become a leader in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
YAP, based in Dubai, does not have a banking license of its own, but has partnered with RAK Bank, which provides international bank account numbers for YAP users and secures their money under its own banking license.
YAP, like other neo-banks that do not have physical branches, does not offer traditional banking services such as loans and mortgages, but instead offers expenditure and budget analysis, peer-to-peer payments and remittance services, as well as bill payments.
YAP is in the process of working with banks in other countries, said product manager Katral-Nada Hassan, including a bank in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Ghana.
World leaders in digital banking like Revolut, one of the fastest growing apps in the world, have no presence in the UAE.
Some banks in the UAE have launched their own digital banking offerings for digital savvy and younger users in recent years, including LIV from Emirates NBD and Mashreq Neo from Mashreq Bank.
The state-owned holding company ADQ in Abu Dhabi announced last year that it would set up an as yet undisclosed neobank with a banking license from the country’s largest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB).
“The fintech revolution has become very popular in other parts of the world and we have seen a gap and unique need for this service in the Middle East,” said Marwan Hachem, CEO and founder of YAP
Hassan said there are challenges for fintechs looking to expand into the UAE.
“Right now there are a lot of fintechs looking to partner with banks, but that takes a lot of discussion, relationship building … It’s not easy,” she said, adding that the founders of YAP already had a relationship with RAK Bank.
YAP is in the seed funding stage, funded by founders, a private equity firm and private investors, Hassan said, adding that more than 20,000 customers have pre-registered and their accounts will be gradually online over the coming weeks will go.
Reporting by Lisa Barrington, Editing by Elaine Hardcastle
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