Egyptian e-commerce startup, Wasla, raises $9M from Contact, plans regional expansion

Egyptian e-commerce startup, Wasla, raises $9M from Contact, plans regional expansion

Egyptian e-commerce startup, Wasla has raised $9 million from Contact Financial Holding, an Egyptian non-bank that offers consumer finance service.

The e-commerce startup is currently preparing to launch new online shopping capabilities including BNPL financing, a new online payment option and regional expansion.

Wasla has before this founding received $1.2 million in funding from a number of investors, including Ventures and Glint Consulting in December 2019.

Wasla was founded barely four years ago by Serag Meneassy, Taymour Sabry – both ex-Rocket Internet entrepreneurs – and Mahmoud El Said an investment banker, while Contact Financial Holding has been in the business of consumer financing since 2001.

“It’s an equity investment, through a series of investments that aim to grow the business going forward, to enable their business plan and their achievement of the company’s vision,” Contact Financial Holding chairman Hazem Moussa said in a chat with TechCrunch.

Wasla’s browser-based experience includes a deal finder that gathers discount coupons and cash back connections from a network of retailers. As it continues to develop additional functions for a better end-to-end shopping experience, it plans to provide a price-comparison tool.

“In the checkout phase, we plan to introduce a very secure payment method…limited by time or value. And the final step is integrating financing or buy-now-pay-later solutions directly within that. It is an end-to-end ecommerce experience starting from search and discovery to financing,” Wasla co-founder and CEO El-Said said.

The new payment option will encourage shoppers to transact online since Egypt is predominantly cash-on-delivery market, which El-Said said is a “costly operation for merchants.”

Buyers will pay more for offline payment since it includes a cash-on-delivery charge.

Contact (formerly Sarwa Capital) will use its consumer finance and technology expertise, particularly its advanced credit services platform, to assist Wasla in extending funding to customers. Contact is one of the first financial services platforms in Egypt to implement modern credit rating and collection techniques, according to reports.

“We are working on extending what we have built in terms of credit engines, AI scoring engines and a variety of tools…including instant approval, fast approvals and pre-approvals,” said Moussa.

“With the whole experience being on the Wasla browser, you have a lot more access to customer behavior and customer interests and therefore be able to really tailor the programs to the user base and so that is really a big addition to the experience– from the start the journey to the payments to the financing,” he said.

Wasla has 1.5 million downloads and has grown its overall e-commerce traffic by 8.5 times year on year since its debut. It brings together offers from over 100 local and regional e-commerce retailers.

The e-commerce startup is also seeking to expand regionally, with imminent plans to penetrate Nigeria.

“It’s a huge market at the end of the day; you have roughly 250 million people. They’re very technologically advanced, and their adoption of ecommerce is quite good. It’s quite the right market. There’s all the infrastructure that you kind of need to set up a proper tech business. In terms of maturity within the tech ecosystem, Nigeria is probably one of the best markets in Africa, competing directly with Egypt, South Africa and a couple of others,” said El-Said.