valU, Egypt’s leading Buy-Now, Pay-Later (BNPL) lifestyle-enabling fintech platform in the MENA region, has expanded its digital financial solutions to customers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through a partnership with FAS Labs, which is owned by Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co. (Alhokair) and Arabian Centers Company (ACC).
FAS Labs and valU will control 65 percent and 35 percent of FAS Finance, respectively, under the terms of the partnership agreement. FAS Finance will offer its products and services under the valU brand.
According to the press release by the company, “FAS Labs, owned by Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co. (“Alhokair”), the leading franchise retailer in Saudi Arabia, and Arabian Centers Company (“ACC”), the leading owner, developer, and operator of lifestyle shopping centers in Saudi Arabia, have entered into a strategic partnership with valU for Consumer Finance S.A.E. (“valU”) on the 5th of June 2022. The agreement will accelerate the geographical expansion of the MENA region’s leading Buy-Now, Pay-Later (BNPL) lifestyle-enabling fintech platform, providing digital consumer finance solutions in Saudi Arabia through FAS Finance.”
FAS Labs was recently established to lead Alhokair and ACC’s joint digital initiatives, offering Saudi customers a range of accessible and customizable digital consumer finance solutions, as well as building and scaling a fully integrated shopping platform that engages consumers throughout the entire purchase journey.
FAS Finance’s capacity to develop and scale a fully integrated shopping platform leveraging accessible digital finance options will be accelerated by valU’s platform, technological skills, and proven track record. The solutions will be offered in Saudi Arabia through Alhokair’s extensive retail network of over 1,000 outlets, as well as online through Vogacloset and the mono-brand websites, 14 of which are in Saudi Arabia. It will also incorporate and cover the full Saudi market by extending to other vendors, retail networks, and merchants.
Mohamad Mourad, Managing Director of ACC and interim Chief Executive Officer of Alhokair, said “Arabian Centers and Alhokair share a pioneering history and a strong team with longstanding partnerships contributing to a robust retail footprint in Saudi Arabia.
The launch of FAS Finance and the strategic partnership with valU are perfectly aligned with our commitment to driving a robust omnichannel experience. Through the integration of innovative payment solutions, we offer greater affordability and value for our customers, all available through one digital platform. In addition, our tenants have access to added value and benefits through this cohesive purchase platform.”
“This significant milestone is indicative of ACC and Alhokair’s commitment to provide Saudi consumers with an integrated, forward-thinking lifestyle experience and be the partner of choice for local and international brands,” Mourad added.
The solutions will also be provided to ACC tenants in 21 shopping malls located in 11 key cities in the Kingdom. ACC will use FAS Finance technologies to provide unrivaled digital finance solutions to visitors and tenants across all of their shopping centers.
The collaboration is a significant step forward in the company’s goal of expanding its client base by entering new markets. Saudi Arabia is valU’s first market outside of Egypt, following the company’s strong development in its home market.
Commenting on the partnership, Karim Awad, Group CEO of EFG Hermes Holding said, “We are honored to be partnering with Alhokair and ACC as part of our strategy to expand our product offering in new markets.”
“Saudi Arabia is the largest GCC country with a growing population and a strong economy, offering immense opportunity for valU to cater to a rising consumer need for digital access to finance. EFG Hermes has been in the Saudi Arabian market since 2007 offering brokerage, research, and advisory services, this is a market we are committed to acting as catalysts for wider change within our industry. We are proud to have grown a strong brand like valU that offers finance solutions that directly feed into elevating consumers’ lifestyles. We believe that the partnerships we have forged and continue to initiate change and actively contribute to the future prosperity of both business and society,” Awad said.
FAS Labs received preliminary approval from the Saudi Central Bank in January 2022 to create FAS Lending as a Shariah-compliant digital consumer finance company. The ultimate permission and change of ownership of FAS Finance (formerly entirely owned by FAS Labs) are still subject to regulatory approvals from the Saudi Central Bank, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Investment, and the General Authority for Competition.
Walid Hassouna who is also the CEO of the Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFI) platform at EFG Hermes Holding and CEO of valU expressed his delight with the partnership, “We are delighted to enter this strategic partnership. valU has retained its position as the market leader in BNPL solutions in the MENA region and Alhokair choosing us further cements this. valU’s launch in KSA comes as a natural progression of our strong partnership with Alhokair and is our first move outside of Egypt with other similar moves to follow soon. We will also be utilizing the extensive network that we have built with valU for brands that have a presence in the Saudi market and extending our services to include them.”
“We are thrilled to be issuing cash loans for the first time which will be complementing our BNPL solution offering. With all being a platform through which consumers can seamlessly access financing solutions across various sectors, we serve as a conduit for enhancing affordability. We pride ourselves in creating solutions that help our clients enrich their lifestyle every day, from shopping to education to sports to entertainment to travel and more,” Hassouna said.