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Digital banking start-up YAP raises $41 million, to expand into Saudi Arabia

By Alexander Cornwell

DUBAI (Reuters) -YAP, a digital bank in the United Arab Emirates, said on Monday it had raised $41 million in funding and targeted raising another roughly $20 million to finance its expansion plans.

The investors so far included Saudi Arabia's Aljazira Capital, Abu Dawood Group, Astra Group and Audacia Capital. YAP said it intends to complete it Series A by the end of the year.

YAP will use the funds to expand the business into Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and Ghana, Chief Executive and co-founder Marwan Hachem said in an interview.

"We just got the EMI (electronic money institutions) license in Pakistan and PSP (payment service provider) in Ghana, same thing in Saudi Arabia. Together with the bank we are going to apply to the central bank," Hachem said.

YAP, launched in 2021, partnered with Emirati lender RAK Bank to be the UAE's first independent digital banking platform.

It has partnered with Bank AlJazira in Saudi Arabia, where it will soft-launch in October before going fully live in the first quarter next year, YAP Managing Director and co-founder Anas Zaidan said.

"That's a very important step for us because we believe Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest markets in the Middle East."

YAP plans to launch by the end of the year in Pakistan and Ghana, where its services are at present being piloted, and next year in Egypt, the most populous Arab nation.

CEO Hachem said YAP would target serving the significant remittance market of Pakistani workers employed in the Gulf who send billions of dollars home each year.

YAP has so far signed up over 130,000 users to its app, the digital bank said.

(Writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Louise Heavens and Maju Samuel)