Alexandre Soued and Helal Lootah, the founders of financial literacy app Lune. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Lune, a UAE-based financial technology start-up, has raised $850,000 in a pre-seed round that it will use to expand across the Mena region.
The funding for the company, which is registered with the Dubai International Financial Centre, was led by the Dubai Future District Fund, Egypt’s Flat6Labs and several angel investors, Lune said on Thursday.
The company’s app democratises data to empower users with financial literacy skills and help them to better manage personal debt.
“While the region’s banking and finance institutions are innovating at breakneck speed, the lack of detailed visibility into transactional data presents a formidable barrier to the sector,” said Helal Lootah, co-founder of Lune.
“This lack of visibility prevents consumers from effectively taking control of their spending, and banking, financial services and insurance institutions from introducing or enhancing services based on customer preferences.”
Financial literacy is a priority for the UAE government, which has introduced a number of programmes over the past three years to tackle the rise of personal debt in the country.
A number of institutions have launched initiatives designed to help people to learn smart money skills, including the UAE Central Bank’s Esref Sah initiative and the Ghaya financial literacy programme that is run by Abu Dhabi’s Authority of Social Contribution, better known as Ma’an.
Luna aims to be a “key enabler” in the continuing transformation of the Mena region’s financial ecosystem, co-founder Alexandre Soued said.
“Our success is built on having identified a pressing market gap and addressing it by creating a locally relevant solution,” Mr Soued said.
“The systems and data-processing engines of US and European providers are incompatible with Middle Eastern transactional data, so our offering is truly unique to the region.”
Mr Soued and Mr Lootah founded Lune in 2020, using $200,000 of their own money.
The interactive app allows users to link several bank accounts and credit cards through one platform to track spending, as well as set budgets and saving goals.
Meanwhile, the FinTech industry remained the highest-funded sector across emerging venture markets in the Middle East, Africa, Pakistan and Turkey during the first half of 2022, with the amount of money raised more than tripling to about $1.68 billion in the first half of 2022 from a year ago, a recent report by start-up platform Magnitt showed.
Lune, which operates in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, will use the cash infusion to scale up its operations across the GCC by the end of 2022.
It is also engaged in discussions with a number of clients in Oman and Qatar.
It is also one of 16 start-ups selected to join Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global technology ecosystem, as part of its latest cohort.
Lune said this would be an opportunity to benefit from a network of corporate and government partners and investors who can help to unlock growth opportunities.
In addition to joining Hub71, Lune was also a part of the third cycle of the Flat6Labs Ignite programme, a partnership launched in June between Disrupt AD, the venture capital arm of Abu Dhabi holding company ADQ, and Flat6Labs.
Their participation has allowed Lune to streamline its business with mentorship from leading entrepreneurship experts.
The Lune FinTech app, which is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Chris Whiteoak / The National