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Fintech Fortis Targets Saudi Arabia’s SME Sector

Fintech Fortis Targets Saudi Arabia’s SME Sector

CAIRO: Fintech companies continue to expand in Saudi Arabia, with the nation increasingly becoming a magnet for financial technology. 

UAE-based Fortis is bringing its one-stop point of sale, customer relationship management, order management system, and payments solution to support small and medium-sized enterprises in the Kingdom. 

In an interview with Arab News, Arseny Kosenko, executive vice president of Fortis, outlined the company’s immediate goals and long-term vision for its operations in the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia, where they see substantial growth potential aligned with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

Fortis is strategically launching in the UAE, setting the stage for further expansion into Saudi Arabia and other Middle East and North Africa countries. 

“We aim to successfully launch in the UAE market and create opportunities for expansion into other countries,” said Kosenko.

A strategic Kingdom 

Over the long term, Fortis aims to deeply influence the Saudi market by delivering high-quality products and services tailored to the unique needs of Saudi businesses and consumers. 

“We will be able to assist small businesses in growing in line with the plans and Vision 2030,” Kosenko stated. 

The goal is to enhance the operational capabilities of SMEs, thereby contributing to gross domestic product growth and enhancing the technological perception of the Saudi market. 

Fortis plans to cater extensively to both domestic users and tourists, particularly during significant events like Expo 2030, by improving merchant and customer interactions through their advanced omnichannel solutions. 

For the coming year, Fortis’s objective is to solidify its presence in the UAE and lay a groundwork for potential expansion across the MENA region. 

The company aims to empower businesses to thrive in a digital landscape by enhancing customer engagement and operational efficiency through their comprehensive digital tools. 

In response to specific needs within the Saudi market, Fortis is developing tailored features in their omnichannel platform to comply with local regulations and business practices. 

“Different regions, including Saudi Arabia, may require various features or regulatory considerations for businesses,” explained Kosenko. 

The company plans to adapt its pricing policies, marketing strategies, and partnerships to align with local business environments. 

To comply with Saudi Arabia’s evolving regulations, Fortis is committed to proactive monitoring of regulatory changes, maintaining strong communication with authorities, and ensuring that their team is well-trained in compliance requirements. 

This approach is supported by technology and automation to streamline compliance processes effectively, he explained. 

Through these strategic initiatives, Fortis is setting a course to become a pivotal player in Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation, supporting the Kingdom’s economic diversification efforts and enhancing the competitive edge of local businesses in the global marketplace. 

“Saudi Arabia is actively enhancing SME financing through regulatory support and digital transformation initiatives. This aligns perfectly with Fortis’s mission to empower SMEs with digital tools that enhance their operations and market reach.” 

While specific details about the official launch and local office establishment in Saudi Arabia are still under wraps, Kosenko mentioned that Fortis is focused on building effective partnerships that will simplify and enhance business operations, making them more efficient and improving customer relationships and overall business performance. 

As for the company’s market position, Kosenko highlighted the importance of SMEs, stating, “SMEs are a crucial segment for us, and how they engage with their clients shapes the evolution of our product.” 

Fortis aims to become an indispensable omnichannel platform that bridges the gap between merchants and customers, enhancing interactions and technological experiences for SMEs while also providing value to larger stakeholders like banks and utility companies. 

Regarding industry evolution, Kosenko emphasized the shift from traditional payment terminals to more sophisticated POS systems that support comprehensive business management including transactions, inventory, and customer data. 

“We’re seeing an increase in the adoption of order management systems that facilitate a seamless omnichannel experience for customers,” he said. 

Fortis plans to leverage these trends by continuing to prioritize customer focus and simplifying payment processes, ensuring seamless interactions between sellers and buyers through a user-friendly interface.

Business fundamentals 

Kosenko highlighted the unique hurdles SMEs encounter, stating, “Unfortunately, many SMEs lack the expertise and resources to navigate areas like customer data collection, personalization, and artificial intelligence, putting them at a competitive disadvantage.” 

Positioned at the dynamic crossroads of Europe and Asia, the Middle East is a burgeoning hub for entrepreneurship, with SMEs forming the backbone of the economy. 

“In the UAE, SMEs make up about 94 percent of all companies and employ over 86 percent of the private sector workforce,” Kosenko added, referencing a report by the UAE’s Department of Economic Development. 

Similar growth and opportunities are evident in Saudi Arabia, where initiatives such as Expo 2030 are catalyzing SME expansion, he added. 

 “Our model is software as a service, with clients paying a monthly or annual fee for licenses,” Kosenko explained.

 This model positions Fortis as a pivotal player in the region’s tech ecosystem, enhancing SME capabilities to manage their operations more efficiently, he added. 

Despite its recent market entry, with operations commencing just three months ago, Fortis is already showing promising revenue growth. 

“It’s premature to discuss profitability at this stage,” said Kosenko, signaling a cautious but optimistic outlook for the company’s financial trajectory. 

The motivation behind Fortis’s inception was clear. “We are focusing on a promising niche in the MENA region, which comprises between 19 and 23 million small businesses,” noted Kosenko. 

He further detailed the key performance indicators that guide Fortis’s strategy in the region: “We focus on active and paying customers, gross profit, lifetime value, and churn.” 

Fortis has successfully raised $20 million in April in investment led by Opportunity Venture, with several tranches allocated throughout 2024. 

Kosenko shared insights into how these funds are poised to propel the company’s expansion plans, particularly in the MENA region. 

He highlighted that while specific expansion plans are still under deliberation, Saudi Arabia is a strong candidate for their growth strategy due to its large market and numerous development projects. 

Regarding future funding, Kosenko expressed satisfaction with the current level of financial support, emphasizing that the focus is on leveraging this investment to accelerate product development and market introduction. 

“Our primary objective is to swiftly bring our innovative solution to market, leveraging the financial support to ensure a successful market entry,” he explained.