Saudi FinTech Hala Acquires


Saudi FinTech Hala is expanding its payments offering with the purchase of

The deal, announced in a Wednesday (Feb. 15) news release, will help Hala’s small- to medium-sized business (SMB) customers process payments online and offline.

“We are excited to welcome Paymennt team to our family to join us in executing our shared vision,” Hala Co-founder Maher Loubieh said in the release. “The trigger was simple, we met smart entrepreneurs who share a similar vision and who are building a complementary product that clearly fits within our strategy.”

Hala serves more than 50,000 SMB’s, primarily in Saudi Arabia, and processes more than $3 billion in transactions per year as the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region looks for solutions to deal with the rapid digitization of payments in that part of the world.

PYMNTS explored this phenomenon in December in a conversation with Saad Ansari, co-founder and CEO at MENA-focused FinTech company XPence.

Largely underserved by banks, which tend to go after larger companies, Ansari said that SMBs are drawn to XPence’s multi-feature spend management platform, which provides a level of oversight and control over their finances that many companies couldn’t attain otherwise.

“We’re not just focusing on their payables or focusing on receivables. We’re bringing both elements into play because ultimately, we want to know the net cash position of the company at any given time,” Ansari told PYMNTS at the time.

Although he acknowledged burgeoning global competition, he argued that many of the platforms created for other markets don’t translate well in the MENAP context, giving Xpence a competitive edge in the region.

“FinTech does not travel across borders very well,” he noted, citing the unique challenges of the fragmented MENA market.

Founded in 2017 and based in the United Arab Emirates, services more than 2,000 microbusiness and SMBs.

As PYMNTS wrote last year, the UAE has emerged as a center of FinTech innovation, home to two bustling centers of international finance, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Along with India, the UAE last year signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) aimed at helping to build bridges between the business communities of the two countries while expanding trade.

Another major factor fueling the UAE’s rapid acceleration in FinTech innovation has been at the government level, with millions being plugged into the startup ecosystem in recent years via sovereign wealth funds (SWF) like the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), which has nearly $700 billion in assets.

For all PYMNTS EMEA coverage, subscribe to the daily EMEA Newsletter.