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Teen banking app Zywa targets Saudi after funding boost

Parents can keep an eye on their children's spending with the app Creative Commons
Parents can keep an eye on their children's spending with the app
  • Neobank offers prepaid card and app to manage and save money
  • Gen Zs in UAE spend AED5bn a year but rely on cash or parents’ cards 

Zywa, a teen-focused fintech startup in the Middle East and North Africa, has announced plans to expand into Saudi Arabia following a seed funding round of $3 million. 

The startup, which is part of Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem, offers a prepaid card for teenagers and an app to manage and save money.

The funding shortly followed the company’s pre-seed round of $1 million led by Y Combinator in February. The seed round brings Zywa to a valuation that exceeds AED110 million.

Founded in 2021 by Alok Kumar and Nuha Hashem, who were born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Zywa offers a gamified community-based banking app and payment card for people between the ages of 11 and 25.

In just four months of the pre-seed round, Zywa received 100,000+ signups.

Gamification, community events, rewards and referrals contributed to the company’s rapid growth, in addition to integrating with more than 1,000+ brands tailored exclusively for Gen Z.

“Gen Zs in the UAE spend about AED5 billion plus every year and still rely on cash or their parents’ cards despite having options like supplementary cards issued by their parents’ banks,” Kumar said.

Person, Human, Blonde
Zywa co-founders Alok Kumar and Nuha Hashem

“While these options give access to digital payments, they are not fundamentally designed for Gen Z, and this is where we add value.

“The seed fund will help us focus on product, growth, and strategic partnerships to accelerate our efforts in the UAE and Egypt markets, while prepping us to launch in Saudi Arabia by early 2023.”

Investors who participated in the round include Goodwater Capital, the largest consumer tech VC globally, 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. 

Samanth Ku, COO of Square Financial Services and one of the strategic angel investors who joined the round, said: “We are excited to back Zywa as we believe financial education needs to be revolutionised for teens in this changing economy.

“Giving exposure to kids early on about saving and personal finance fundamentals and done in an engaging way sets up the next generation for success.”

Through the app, parents can send money to their teens and oversee their spending and saving habits.

It is also creating a community of teens with initiatives such as internships, events and meetups, influencer partnerships and gamified financial literacy.