Astra Tech Acquires Botim to Create MENA Super App

Astra Tech Buys Botim to Create MENA Super App

Astra Tech has acquired Botim in a bid to create a Gulf region super app.

The deal will transform Astra Tech — an investment firm based in Dubai — into one of the largest communications tech platforms in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Bloomberg reported Wednesday (Jan. 11).

The company did not give a value for Botim, a voice-calling platform, but said it has 90 million registered and 25 million monthly active users, according to the report. The acquisition will let users pay bills, access government services, and order food and groceries using the app.

“Botim will be the first of its kind in the region to simplify interactions of hundreds of millions of users, allowing them to engage and transact seamlessly,” Astra Tech founder Abdallah Abu Sheikh told Bloomberg.

PYMNTS has contacted both companies for comment but has not yet received a reply.

Botim has thrived in the United Arab Emirates — where 85% of the population comes from overseas — in part because of the country’s ban on calls from applications like FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp, the report stated. That makes Botim one of the few apps people there can use to make internet voice calls.

PYMNTS wrote last month that Astra Tech and many other Gulf region companies had managed to avoid last year’s venture capital slowdown. The company in December announced $500 million in funding from G42, a holding company for artificial intelligence (AI) businesses.

A super app is an all-in-one mobile application offering a range of services and functions, allowing users to perform various tasks within the app instead of having to rely on several different apps.

Super apps often have a broad scope, with features that include social networking, eCommerce, banking and transportation payments. And because of their broad service scope, these apps often have vast customer bases.

These apps are popular in Asia, where China’s WeChat and Indonesian company Gojek are both poised to expand to new markets.

In the Middle East, meanwhile, Uber-owned Careem “is a strong contender for the title of the region’s preeminent super app,” PYMNTS wrote in December. In addition to ride-hailing and food delivery, users of the app can rent a car, order home cleaning services and access micromobility networks.

That isn’t to say there’s no desire for these apps elsewhere. According to a survey of almost 10,000 consumers in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and Germany for PYMNTS and PayPal’s report, “Super Apps for the Super Connected,” an estimated 96 million people in these markets are attracted to the idea of a centralized user interface that lets them conduct their online activities.

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