HAL Capital Wins 2024 Visa Everywhere Initiative in Oman

Visa has announced the winners of the Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain editions of the 2024 Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI), a global open innovation program and competition for fintech startups to pitch their solutions to solve tomorrow’s payment and commerce challenges. In addition to monetary prizes, VEI winners receive global exposure, and validation from one of the world’s most trusted brands.

First place and prize money of OMR15,000 ($40,000) for Oman went to HAL Capital, a Sharia-compliant embedded direct financing FinTech platform for underbanked Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and individuals. The fintech company will now participate in the CEMEA regional finals for the Visa Everywhere Initiative, which will take place on July 23, competing for a total of OMR7,700 ($20,000).

Also honoured at the VEI finale, MoneyLoop, a digital rotating savings and credit association that employs KYC to ensure low risk to users, was awarded the winner for Saudi Arabia with prize money of OMR15,000 ($40,000) and Cnpsecure, a turnkey solutions provider for issuers to adopt dynamic CVV and virtual cards, was the Bahrain winner, receiving a total of OMR15,000 ($40,000).

The third edition of VEI brought back the Impact Prize to the competitor whose solution has a positive social impact on the communities it operates in. Examples include initiatives that boost financial inclusion, promote sustainability, or safeguard the environment. Bahrain-based Ryalize, a liquidity solution provider that provides easy access to financial products to individuals with predictable income won the Impact Prize for this Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman edition of VEI, receiving OMR3,800 ($10,000) in prize money.

Manish Gautam, Visa’s Country Manager for Oman said: “We are thrilled to announce the winners of the third edition of the Visa Everywhere Initiative in Saudi, Oman and Bahrain. My congratulations to Oman’s HAL Capital.  The innovative solutions our finalists introduced this year were truly exceptional, showcasing the immense talent and creativity within Oman’s fintech ecosystem. We are excited to see how these groundbreaking ideas will transform the payments landscape in the Sultanate.”

He added: “Fintechs in Oman have a unique opportunity to drive digital payments forward and contribute to the broader economy, particularly by providing financial services to traditionally underserved communities. We look forward to working closely with our winners to shape the future of the fintech landscape in Oman.”

Each of the finalists presented their solutions to the payment challenges of tomorrow to an expert panel of judges, which included Nezar Alhaidar, CEO, Fintech Saudi, Yousif AlNefaiei, Deputy CEO, BENEFIT,  Majid AlAmri, CEO, Thawani Pay, Godfrey Sullivan, SVP and Head of Strategy for CEMEA – Visa, Malak AlSaffar, Country Manager for Bahrain – Visa, and Thereshini Peter, VP, Chief Financial Officer – GCC, Visa.

To better understand the challenges and opportunities of fintechs in GCC, Visa commissioned an independent study that identified themes for empowerment. The key themes that emerged from the “Understanding the Fintech Landscape – GCC” study:

The Big Picture

  • 71 per cent attribute fintech growth in GCC to government support and regulatory initiatives.
  • Top 3 sources of funding: Corporate investors (25 per cent), angel investors (21 per cent), and Bootstrapping (self-funding) (19 per cent).
  • 73 per cent of fintechs state AI will play a pivotal role in their future growth.
  • 58 per cent of fintechs acknowledge that payments are the most prominent emerging space.
  • GCC banks and fintechs are increasingly collaborative, addressing the needs of diverse customer segments.

Emerging Spaces

  • Payments is the largest sector and will continue to grow.
  • Surge in BNPL / Installments.
  • Artificial Intelligence creates new opportunities.
  • Web3 moves beyond the hype.
  • Stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are a nascent trend.
  • Crypto remains a high-interest area.
  • Open banking to drive the next wave of fintech unicorns.

Understanding the Gaps

  • Top founder inspiration includes addressing a specific market need (70 per cent) and filling a gap in financial services (61 per cent).
  • 40 per cent of fintech players said talent acquisition and retention is the biggest challenge.
  • 25 per cent of fintechs surveyed find it challenging to build trust with customers.

International expansion

  • 90 per cent of fintechs in MENA are exploring UAE and Saudi as expansion markets in the next 24 months due to their market size, advanced regulatory frameworks, tax benefits and funding support.
  • 56 per cent of GCC fintechs seek geographical expansion as part of their growth roadmap.
  • Success requires a harmonised regulatory framework.

Since launching in 2015, the Visa Everywhere Initiative has helped more than 15,000 startups from over 100 countries collectively secure more than US$48 billion in funding. For more information on the Visa Everywhere Initiative, please click here.