Saudi Arabia has the grandest tech vision of any nation, says top executive

Saudi Arabia has the grandest tech vision of any nation, says top executive
Saudi Arabia has the grandest tech vision of any nation, says top executive

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Astra Tech’s BOTIM app offers services from flight bookings to bond purchasing through chat

RIYADH: Users now have the advantage of booking flights seamlessly through chat app BOTIM, ushering in an alternative to conventional booking methods, Astra Tech’s CEO has confirmed. 

In May, the UAE-based technology firm signed a deal with Etihad Airways to offer an upgraded booking service, promising clients an enhanced and seamless experience.

Abdallah Abu Sheikh emphasized the significance of chat outlets in the modern world, highlighting Astra Tech’s popular communication and messaging app BOTIM, mostly known in the region as a voice-over-Internet protocol app, as the Middle East’s largest correspondence platform. 

This close connection with users and merchants has made it a preferred choice for big partners like Etihad Airways.

The platform’s success has encouraged the company to explore opportunities within sectors such as travel, hospitality, government services, and bill payments in Saudi Arabia.

Abu Sheikh said in an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the ongoing Future Investment Initiative: “Our partnership with Etihad was a landmark technological opportunity because, for the first time, a lot of users who don’t know or can’t access websites or apps were able to book their tickets completely through chat and much faster, much cheaper than they would, you know, and the normal experience.”

He added: “We’ve seen a very good reflection of it on our users. We’ve seen it getting very accepted into the testing environments and now we look forward to rolling it out with a lot more travel partners than just Etihad Airways.”

The CEO explained the importance of aligning with regulations in different regions, especially concerning voice-over IP. As demonstrated by Astra Tech’s commitment to ensuring these standards, meeting regulatory standards for user, data, and information security is crucial for providing access in various countries.

Abu Sheikh’s remarks provided insights into the company’s prospective strategies and growing influence in the Middle East: “We are already working on closing two big partnerships for the kingdom, which we will be announcing a bit later around telecommunications and financial technology mainly.”

He continued: “We’re talking within the network before the end of the year, hopefully, is our launch date. We’re expanding our existing business lines in the GCC, so you can expect it to be a sizable arrangement for Saudi Arabia.” 

Abu Sheikh highlighted the potential of national bonds as a secure investment option for retail investors, offering a safe haven for their money. Astra Tech has simplified the process, allowing users to invest in national bonds through the BOTIM platform.

According to the CEO, Astra Tech’s global expansion plans are robust, with millions of users in India and a recent banking license acquisition in the Philippines. The company intends to offer its services to a broader user base, keeping pace with its rapidly growing customer numbers.

“I think what’s next for us is to just try and maintain those services but expand them to more of our users base. We have 200 million users almost at this time, which is bigger than the GCC or bigger than just the Middle East,” Abu Sheikh added.

The CEO also shared some impressive statistics regarding Astra Tech’s growth, boasting a nearly 300 percent month-on-month increase in the number and volume of transactions. The company recently reported over 1.3 billion dirhams ($350 milliom) in transactions in just four months, setting a new standard for fintech in the region. 

“And we’re expecting to probably grow multiples of this number by the end of the year,” Abu Sheikh concluded.

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