SAUDI ARABIA - Finance
Muhannad Ebwini is the Co-Founder & CEO of HyperPay, having led the business to its current position as a one of the Middle East’s fastest-growing and most successful online payment businesses. Ebwini has more than 18 years of experience in the online, e-commerce, gaming, and payment industries, having successfully grown the business of OneCard, a leading regional alternative payment mechanism between 2004 and 2010. During his tenure at OneCard, he spearheaded the development of the online payment and e-commerce industry in the MENA region. He is a certified e-commerce consultant (CEC). He holds an MBA in management and international business from NYIT and a bachelor’s in computer software engineering from Princess Sumayya University.
How would you evaluate the company’s performance in 2022, and what are the drivers underpinning HyperPay’s growth?
2022 was a great year, as we grew almost by 100%. We also finalized our investment with Mastercard and launched a new plan with a brand-new identity. We are moving from being a gateway to a complete B2B fintech provider. We are expanding further in payments with a unique approach and expanding our products, which will all be B2B. Payments have now become a commodity. The market is becoming increasingly competitive, with new players capitalizing on the opportunities presented by the dynamism of the national economy. We are proud to have around 14.9% of the market share, and we are working to expand it even further. We have a new target of 110% growth for 2023. We have been above targets in the first few months. To sustain our growth, we created a series of new products mainly focused on solutions. Our recent focus is on our recently launched product: Hyperpay Hospitality. We have established a strategic partnership with Oracle to provide a “no-show” solution that benefits hotels using the Oracle OPERA Cloud Property Management System (PMS). In a post-pandemic landscape, hotels are experiencing a sharp increase in demand but often struggle to successfully fulfill it. This is compounded by the issue of no-show reservations can negatively impact a hotel’s bottom line. HyperPay’s Hospitality Solution is specifically designed to ensure clear communications between hotels and their guests. The “no-show” solution is fully automated, allowing hotels to bill customers for the first night’s stay in advance of their arrival. Once payment is settled, HyperPay’s Hospitality Solution works with Oracle’s OPERA Cloud and OPERA 5 solutions to reflect the booking’s status and sends the client a booking confirmation along with a digital invoice. This solution is the first in the world to address the issue of no-shows from third-party bookings like Booking.com. We have finalized partnerships with 20 five-star hotels, and most of whom are testing the service before taking it to their head companies. The product has been well received not only in the country but also in the region. Hotels in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Jordan are already using it. We also plan to make this product available as a white label to other countries who can sell it worldwide. We never compete on price, as we believe that transaction should be profitable. We focus on delivering unique and localized products where we have a competitive advantage. We expect significant growth in fintech in general in the coming years, not just payment solutions but other areas as well. Our solutions today do not even cover 30% of the market, and we need more fintech companies in KSA with different solutions. Our focus is on lending and cash advances. Open banking is coming in June, and we had considered acquiring a company with a license for open banking in KSA; however, after mentorship sessions with the Mastercard teams we decided not to go into open banking until we see how the market evolves.
HyperPay has announced its plans to go through an initial public offering in Saudi Arabia within the next two years as part of its expansion plans. Can you elaborate on this initiative?
This is a significant milestone for our company. We have established governance and committees, have taken multiple ISOs for security, and obtained certificates to ensure we are IPO ready. We have also brought in multiple consultants to help us prepare for the IPO process. Our original plan was to start the final phase this year, though our consultants recommended delaying the process by a year to focus on improving the product line, particularly in the areas of card issuing and B2B units, and to start generating revenue from these products. We have worked with the market to ensure we have multiple sources of revenue other than just the payment gateway. Our plan is to reassess our readiness to start the IPO process in 1Q or 2Q next year. We anticipate being listed by 2025. Our top priority now is ensuring the company’s continued growth and maintaining the quality of our service.
HyperPay currently serves more than 5,000 merchants in seven different countries and is one of the top-five payment providers in the MENA region. As far as regional expansion is concerned, what specific market/country on your radar?
In Saudi Arabia, we are witnessing massive potential coming from the ongoing giga projects, which present incredible growth opportunities for the company. We are currently collaborating with these projects to develop a digital payment platform. In addition to Saudi Arabia, we have ambitious plans in the UAE and are opening an office in Qatar. We also have been working to expanding our presence in Egypt for the last two years.
What are your short-term priorities for 2023?
My priority is to take the new products live and ultimately establish HyperPay as a comprehensive B2B hub for large corporation and governments. Our goal is to be the leading provider of customized solutions for B2B clients. We will continue to innovate and updating our existing products to address more challenges. We aim to be number one in every product category in the market as we continue to grow.
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