Contact Financial Holding, Egypt’s non-bank consumer finance provider, has invested $9 million in the country’s e-commerce super app Wasla, paving the way for the rollout of new online shopping opportunities, products and regional expansion.
Contact has been in consumer finance since 2001, while Wasla was founded in 2018 by former Serag Meneassy and Taymour Sabry, both ex-Rocket Internet entrepreneurs, and investment banker Mahmoud El Said.
“It is an equity investment, through a series of investments aimed at growing the company in the future, enabling their business plan and the realization of the company vision,” Hazem Moussa, chairman of Contact Financial Holding, told TechCrunch .
The e-commerce platform will now introduce a range of products and options, including buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) financing and a new online payment option.
Wasla, whose experience is tied to his browser, has several features, including a deal finder that collects discount codes and cashback links across a network of merchants. It also plans to introduce a price comparison tool as it continues to add new functionalities for a better end-to-end shopping experience.
“In the checkout phase, we plan to introduce a highly secure payment method… limited by time or value. And the last step is directly integrating financing or buy-now-pay-later solutions into it. It’s an end-to-end e-commerce experience, from search and discovery to financing,” El-Said, co-founder and CEO of Wasla, told TechCrunch.
The new payment option is set up to encourage shoppers to transact online, as Egypt is currently a predominantly cash-on-delivery market, which El-Said says is an “expensive operation for merchants.”
Paying offline is also an expensive option for buyers, as it has COD charges.
Contact (formerly Sarwa Capital) will bring its consumer finance and technology experience, including its advanced credit services platform, to help Wasla expand finance for shoppers. Contact is said to be one of the first financial services platforms to introduce advanced credit scoring and collection mechanisms in Egypt.
“We’re working to expand on what we’ve built in terms of credit engines, AI scoring engines, and a variety of tools…including instant approvals, rapid approvals, and pre-approvals,” Moussa said.
“Because the whole experience is on the Wasla browser, you have a lot more access to customer behavior and customer interests and therefore you can really tailor the programs to the user base and so that’s a really big addition to the experience – from the beginning the journey to the payments to the funding,” he said.
Wasla currently has 1.5 million downloads and has grown 8.5 times year over year in total e-commerce traffic since its inception. It collects deals for a network of more than 100, local and regional, e-commerce merchants.
The ecommerce startup is also poised for regional expansion, with immediate plans to enter Nigeria currently underway.
“Ultimately it’s a huge market, you have about 250 million people. They are very technologically advanced and their e-commerce adoption is quite good. It’s just the right market. There is all the infrastructure you need to set up a true tech company. 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 few others,” said El-Said.
According to Crunchbase, Wasla received $1.2 million in funding from a number of investors, including Ventures and Glint Consulting, prior to this announcement.
The Egyptian e-commerce sector is estimated to generate $5 billion in revenue last year, and this will grow exponentially as the industry experiences a compound annual growth rate of 22% over the next four years. Major e-commerce players in Egypt include Souq.com, which had net sales of $109 million in the North African country last year, btech and lcwaikiki.