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Hayya: A socially-driven financial solution

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What Amro Al Qubaisi is doing with his start-up Hayya is not just disruptive, but leaps and bounds ahead of the current market offering. But, will it sustain its unique model?

What Amro envisions for the world of payments is quite extraordinary. He wants to create a financial solution that caters to the unique needs of the socially active millennial and younger generations. How? By combining two things that are very critical to them: financial independence and purpose. “Hayya is the first blockchain-based social digital bank that facilitates crowdfunding and group payments – all powered by commerce proposition, chatting and collaboration tools. The idea is to give the youth a platform, where they can make a collective saving, facilitate a loan fund, create a fund for socially-driven causes or simply arrange group related purchases.”

Amro has devised this platform, which is currently at the prototype stage because he ultimately expects customers to demand more relevant financial services. His confidence in his concept is also demonstrated by the fact that he has funded his business with his personal savings. “I fully sponsored Hayya’s initial costs,” he says. But as the concept gains traction, Amro has realised that he would need external financial support to move forward. “We received commitments of US$ 220,000 from angel investors. However, due to strategic reasons, we changed our funding strategy and are currently exploring with a strategic corporate entity the potential sponsorship of our first two years’ budget requirements. The funding would be utilised for CAPEX related purposes such as platform and app development. In addition to pre-operation costs associated with licensing, office leasing and hiring key resources. Finally, to cover post operation costs such as covering our user acquisition costs and cash flow requirements,” he explains.

Key drivers of success
Hayya recently participated in StartAD Fintech Launchpad, which qualified the concept within the top finalists, and shortlisted it as a potential seed funding recipient post an intensive six-week mentoring programme. Some of the key drivers that influenced the acceptance of the Hayya as a concept include its clear definition of its customer segment. Although many would identify innovation with a break-through idea, true business innovation is achieved by identifying a “non-customer” segment, and tailor products and services for this segment. We believe that we identified such segment that still relies on cash and offline traditional modes of payments. This is a key milestone which is aligned with the UAE government’s initiatives to create a cashless economy,” reasons Amro. Moreover, having a prototype made communicating the concept easier, especially when the prototype has an attractive UI and simple UX. “We tested our hypothesis and concept through interviews and the development of our prototype app which gave us valuable feedback from potential early adopters.”

Not getting lost in the crowd
With a lot being said and done in the field of fintech and payments, how does Amro set himself apart from the buzz and stay true his actual purpose? “Fintech is a hot topic now. However, it’s important for aspiring entrepreneurs to understand local regulations and keep up with them. Entrepreneurs will also need to develop business models that give users or clients the confidence to use your product or service. Such business models shouldn’t be limited to establishing corporate partnerships and connecting to APIs, but should also include a robust risk management framework that undertakes quarterly or semi-annual reviews of API providers and fintech related open sources,” responds Amro.

Race to finish line
Today, as most large financial institutions are making the transformation to digital, Amro knows he is vying for a competitive space. Yet, this doesn’t deter him from his final objective. “For Hayya, we will start small by focusing on our core capabilities and enhancing our value proposition with a focus on the UAE. There is no doubt that entrepreneurship is a very challenging and lonely journey. To overcome this, I fuel my passion and stay focused. Entrepreneurs generally have a hard time to stay focused on their minimum viable product and core capabilities. So, staying focused is crucial. As for fuelling my passion, our brand promise is to make a social impact in our communities by empowering the social culture. This promise is what gets me out of bed every morning irrelevant of any faced challenges,” he opens up. Hayya, in Arabic, can be literally translated to ‘Let’s go’, an exact representation of where Amro is with the company. All systems in place, a dream to achieve, let’s go!

Rushika Bhatia

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.