Fintech firm Now Money secures funding to help migrant workers

23 Aug 2017

Now Money co-founders Ian Dillon and Katharine Budd. Image: Now Money

Now Money aims to provide financial inclusion to low-income migrant workers in the Persian Gulf region.

UAE-based fintech start-up Now Money has successfully secured an investment of $700,000 from two US venture capital investors, Accion Venture Lab and Newid Capital. Both entities target the financially underserved with their investment choices.

Now Money received its initial seed funding last year, which permitted the company to expand the team and finance technological developments. This latest round of investment funding is earmarked for a service launch across the UAE, and expansion into other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries such as Kuwait and Bahrain.

The social impact of fintech

Co-founder Ian Dillon said: “We’re excited to be making such a big social impact in the region. Accion is one of the leading global institutions promoting financial inclusion, and Newid Capital was co-founded by Nigel Morris, who previously co-founded Capital One Financial Services.

“We’re excited to be working with them to bring financial inclusion to the 26m unbanked in the GCC.”

Michael Schlein, CEO and president of Accion, was enthusiastic about the partnership and the potential for positive change. “Each year, migrant workers contribute more than $400bn to their home economies, and the United Arab Emirates is among the top remittance-sending countries in the world.

“Now Money’s innovative approach and digital platform provide a faster and safer option for these workers to support their families and communities.”

Reaching the underserved

This marks the first time that Accion Venture Lab has invested in a wholly digital bank, with Amee Parbhoo, director of investments, adding: “As we reach this new group of financially underserved individuals, we’ll look to apply our learnings to Venture Lab’s work around the world.”

Only 20 to 30pc of the population of the GCC earns enough to meet the traditional salary requirements needed by a traditional bank, with the rest receiving their payments through a card that offers precious little functionality besides the withdrawal of all the funds at once.

Now Money signs up companies who agree to transfer wages to its app. Workers are then shown how the system works, and choose a remittance provider. Considering the high remittance rates in GCC countries, Now Money is using fintech to make a difference to migrant workers’ lives.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects