Cybercriminals shift focus to crypto industry

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - CAIRO: Startups in the Middle East and North Africa region raised $247 million across 67 deals last month with Saudi Arabia scooping up more than half of the total deal value in the region.

The Kingdom was the top destination for startup investments with $175 million raised across 20 deals with buy now, pay later fintech Tamara’s $150 million debt round representing 64 percent of the region’s total funding raised last month, according to Wamda’s monthly report.

The UAE came in second place with $59 million across 18 deals followed by Bahrain with $6 million, Kuwait with $4 million and Morocco with $1 million. Egypt saw a massive decline, not being in the top five countries for the first time in one year.

March funding saw a 67 percent decline month-on-month but pushed the total funding raised in the first quarter of 2023 to surpass $1.1 billion, marking a 17 percent increase quarter on quarter.

Fintech remains the preferred sector for investors attracting 73 percent of all activity last month with $179.6 million followed by foodtech and edtech with $19 million and $14 million, respectively.

Other sectors received interesting attention last month like traveltech grabbing $9 million, web3 and blockchain $3.5 million, and 3D printing and manufacturing attracting $2 million in investments.

Hakbah scoops $2m in pre-series A funding

Saudi-based fintech startup Hakbah raised $2 million in a pre-series A funding round by Global Ventures and Aditum Investment Management.

Founded in 2018, the company managed to attract its first institutional capital from Global Ventures as well as receive licensing approval from the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA.

Hakbah is a savings platform that aims to strengthen financial inclusion via social savings. The company witnessed over 20 times organic growth in 2022 helping 18,000 customers save over an accumulated $35 million, a press release stated.

“We are proud to have two strong financial institutions, Global Ventures and Aditum, as our primary investors. They share our values, vision, and ambition to elevate the savings industry to the next level,” Naif Abusaida, founder of Hakbah, said.

The company plans to use the funding to accelerate growth and cement its presence in the Kingdom as well as enhance its savings engine algorithm.

“Savings are an important pillar of the Financial Sector Development Program and increasing them is a key focus for Saudi Vision 2030,” Abusaida added.

Savvy Games to acquire Scopely for $4.9bn

Savvy Games, wholly owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has signed an agreement to acquire US-based gaming firm Scopely for $4.9 billion.

Touted to be one of the biggest acquisitions ever in the gaming industry, the move is expected to catalyze Saudi Arabia’s efforts to evolve as a global gaming hub, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals.

“At Savvy Games Group, our mission is to invest in — and grow — the global games community by inviting the best minds to join us,” said Brian Ward, CEO of Savvy Games Group.

Our mission is to invest in — and grow — the global games community by inviting the best minds to join us.

Brian Ward, CEO of Savvy Games Group

He added: “Scopely is one of the fastest-growing games companies today, and we have long admired their ability to build loyal, engaged player communities.”

Scopely is known for developing free-to-play franchises including Star Trek Fleet Command, Stumble Guys, Scrabble Go and Yahtzee with Buddies.

“Savvy Games Group shares our long-held belief that the companies who have built the deepest relationships with their players will succeed. Together, as one, we will be able to further expand the possibilities of play, continuing to develop beloved game experiences for players around the world,” said Scopely co-CEO Walter Driver.

J.P. Morgan acted as the lead financial adviser to Savvy on this transaction. Bank of America and Aream also acted as financial advisers to Savvy, while Latham and Watkins acted as legal adviser.

e& acquires 50.3% of Careem Super App

UAE-headquartered communication firm e&, formerly known as Etisalat, acquired a 50.3 percent stake in Careem’s super app spinout for $400 million.

Careem’s ride-hailing business will continue to be fully owned by Uber, while its super app will have Uber, Careem’s co-founders, and e& as major shareholders.

Careem’s super app offers multiple services including food delivery. (Supplied)

The super app offers multiple services including food and grocery delivery, micro-mobility, a digital wallet and other fintech options.

The company currently operates in 10 countries across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, and will use the investment to expand further.

“Super apps have catalyzed the economic, social and cultural growth of emerging markets today. The popularity of super apps has come from the need to provide a unique and seamless customer experience,” Hatem Dowidar, group CEO at e&, said.

Since Uber’s acquisition of Careem in 2020 for $3.1 billion, Careem has evolved into a multiservice app that witnessed massive growth through the years.

“The Careem super app is a digital native that has built a rapidly growing payments, food and grocery delivery network, and a platform for other digital businesses to scale from. The shared vision between e& and Careem is exciting, we believe that together we’ll be able to enhance our impact across different markets in the region while pushing the boundaries of customer experience,” Dowidar added.

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