Zywa, a teen-focused fintech start-up re-imagining banking for Gen Z in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), has announced a seed funding round of USD 3 million. The start-up, which is part of Abu Dhabi’s Hub71, a global tech ecosystem, which offers a prepaid card for teenagers and an app to operate and save money. Shareholders who participated in the round include Goodwater Capital, Dubai Future District Fund, Rebel Fund, Trampoline VC, Zemu VC, and some of the most prominent European family offices, as well as strategic angel investors.
In February 2022, the funding followed the firm’s pre-seed round of USD 1 million guided by Y Combinator. The seed round fetches Zywa a state-of-the-art valuation that surpasses AED 110 million, despite the current economic downturn. Zywa newly amalgamated with Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem, gaining access to Abu Dhabi’s capital ecosystem, a global network of partners, and a vibrant community of highly accomplished talent.
Zywa was founded in 2021 by entrepreneurs Alok Kumar and Nuha Hashem. Zywa is bringing a unique solution to the region by offering a gamified community-based banking app and payment card to Gen Z between the ages of 11 and 25 years old.
Zywa’s user experience
Zywa received 100,000+ signups in just 4 months. Gamification, community events, rewards and referrals contributed to the firm’s swift growth, in addition to integrating with more than 1,000+ brands tailored exclusively for Gen Z.
Nuha Hashem, co-founder, and CTO of Zywa added that with Gen Z, Zywa need to be accurate on the centre of percussion between community, gamified learning, and payment access. The Zywa app is already enabling all the above and this can be noticed in the 85%+ of their users being active on a weekly basis, while 90% of their discord customers interact with them on a day-to-day basis as well as 4.8+ star rating on the App Store. The seed round will help them create added product initiatives to provide the finest possible experience to their Gen Z users, while building financial literacy.
Zywa want the users to experience banking in a cool way that sets a high standard for them in the future. This funding will also help them tailor the product to a new audience in their home country (Egypt) and the country where she grew up (Saudi Arabia). Zywa is honoured to have a product that is localized to the MENA region and that Gen Z can resonate with, Hashem added.
Samanth Ku, COO of Square Financial Services and one of the strategic angel investors who joined the round, also added, that the firm is excited to fund Zywa as they believe financial education needs to be revolutionized for teens in this ever-changing economy. Giving exposure to children early on saving and personal finance fundamentals in an engaging method establishes the next generation for success.
Ku added that Zywa is creating a community of teens in the UAE who can connect and network with each other while building their financial literacy, supported by Y Combinator and DIFC’s Fintech Hive. The start-up firm has launched several community programs including influencer partnerships, internships, community events and more with key public and private sector entities in the UAE.
Alok Kumar, co-founder and CEO of Zywa said, in the UAE Gen Zs devote about AED 5 billion plus per annum and still depend on cash or their parents’ cards despite having options like ancillary cards issued by their parents’ banks. Though these options give access to digital payments, they are not fundamentally designed for Gen Z, and this is where the firm add value. The seed fund will help them focus on product, growth, and strategic partnerships to accelerate their efforts in the UAE and Egypt markets, while prepping them to launch in Saudi Arabia by early 2023.