Saudi Arabia embraces advanced project management model to drive Vision 2030 objectives

JEDDAH: Fintech startup Thimsa aims to simplify business payments through direct bank transfers as it launches a beta platform in the UAE and Bahrain, targeting the growth of open banking in the region.

The startup, co-founded by two Saudi entrepreneurs along with a financial expert, aims to facilitate instant B2B deposits and withdrawals while offering e-invoice and subscription features.

The anticipated growth of open banking in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries motivated Rayan Azab and Salah Khashoggi to partner with Dubai fintech entrepreneur Ash Kalra to lead the venture after four years of market research.

This comes as open banking in the GCC region alone is expected to account for more than $124 billion in transactions by 2031, up from $14 billion in 2020, with an annual growth rate of 22 percent, according to a report by Allied Market Research.

Azab shared Thimsa’s story with Arab News: “The journey took about three to four years, but realistically we started this year with a different experience that we have.”

He added that they have studied the market and know that fintech adoption in the region is one of the highest in the world, thanks to the young, vibrant generation in the GCC.

“We consulted and worked with a few other fintech companies and then we decided (to start a company) as the Open Banking Regulation was introduced in the last few years,” Azab said.

Rayan Azab. Attached.

The entrepreneur added that the process has become easier over time, citing their decision to now enter the open banking sector as the reason for establishing Thimsa. He noted that the partners have different experiences, which he believes will contribute to their success.

“We are three partners. Kalra has over 12 years of fintech experience in Canada and the US, and I have been in business for over 14 years. In addition, I have a consulting business in addition to Thimsa. Salah Khashoggi, founder of Tamra Capital, is also part of our team and brings his expertise from Saudi Arabia,” he added.

The company states that through open banking, its platform can access shared financial data through 350 integrated APIs, enabling businesses to streamline processes, create personalized financial services and adapt to ever-evolving customer needs.

In addition, the fintech company highlighted that its solution can accept payments in more than 60 currencies from more than 150 countries.

Explaining their decision to launch the payment management platform in the UAE and Bahrain first, Azab told Arab News that they wanted to test it in smaller markets before entering larger ones like Saudi Arabia.

He added that they are aligning their efforts and developments with the regulatory changes and expansions of the local regulator as it strengthens its framework.

“Saudi Arabia has recently advanced its open banking initiatives and is poised to become a regional leader in open banking,” he explained.

Highlighting the potential impact of the growth of open banking in the GCC on their journey, Azab noted that the segment is already established in the region and that they are not introducing something entirely new.

“We are just renovating it. Thimsa will come in and help small businesses that can’t afford to go and do huge accounting or whatever,” he said, adding that they will add value to these businesses.

Talking about their platform, he explained that the technology includes instant payment management, corporate management and, most importantly, business-to-business and customer-to-business functions.

Azab concluded by stating that they faced many challenges but gained significant experience in understanding the market and its growth path. In addition, he mentioned that they work closely with regulators.

Khashoggi’s fault. Attached

Khashoggi told Arab News that the platform will change the financial services landscape for businesses in the GCC, that the region, particularly Saudi Arabia, is undergoing a massive transformation in financial technology and financial inclusion.

“We want to focus on enabling SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). So the idea of ​​Thimsa is how to help all these small and medium-sized companies by providing them with financing in addition to facilitating their operations. All this is the result of open banking,” Khashoggi said.

The co-founder added that without open banking regulations in Saudi Arabia, we wouldn’t be able to have or even invent something like Thimsa.

Speaking about their future expansion plans, Khashoggi emphasized that their main focus is on product development. He explained that once they have proven success in Saudi Arabia and the GCC region, they will look to expand their product offering to the global market.

He emphasized that the beauty of fintech is its integration with the digital economy, making it one of the easiest products to export globally. However, he noted that it is crucial to remain attentive to market demands.

“So if you want to expand into any other market, you have to localize the product to meet their needs,” he said.

He emphasized that their strategy involves perfecting their products first here in Saudi Arabia before confidently venturing into international markets.

When asked how Thimsa can ensure the security and privacy of its users’ data given its extensive use of financial data, he said that this is fully under the control of the regulator.

“The regulator sets the bar very high when it comes to sharing any kind of data. Our customers trust us with their data for their benefit. We’re not going to take it and use it or sell it or do anything with it. The regulations do not allow all of this. We will use it only for the benefit of the client,” he said.

Kalra, on the other hand, described Thimsa as a state-of-the-art platform for financial management and emphasized that it is based on the fundamental principles of open banking and finance.

“Open banking fits very well with Vision 2030 in Saudi Arabia and works on real-time payment tracks. So that means it drives innovation, growth and inclusion across the market,” he said.

Highlighting open banking in the GCC market, particularly in Saudi Arabia, and discussing whether they will compete with banks, Kalra commented: “Open banking is a technology that allows banks to share their data with third parties like us, which promotes innovation and growth in the market.

“For the Saudi market, this is a big deal. One of the pillars of Vision 2030 is the diversification of the economy, and open banking makes this possible,” he said.

Ash Kalra. Attached

Kalra added that it allows the incumbent banks to work with third parties like them, saying, “So we’re not competing with the banks, we’re actually working with them.”

Describing the technology and how their platform would facilitate payment management, he said Thimsa uses a microservices architecture and API-based technology.

“We collect a lot of data from the bank about companies and consumers, and we are innovating in this regard. So this is the key technology used by Thimsa,” he concluded.

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