Ian Dillon and Katharine Budd, co-founders, NOW Money

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NOW Money uses mobile technology to provide accounts and a range of low-cost remittance options to low-income migrant workers in the GCC. These workers work long hours in poor conditions to send money home to support their families. However they are disallowed from opening bank accounts and are excluded from the financial system. NOW Money’s smartphone based solution will improve their lives, save them significant money, and give far greater financial inclusion across the region.

What prompted you to launch NOW Money?

NOW Money’s sole objective is to stamp out financial exclusion in the GCC.

The company was founded in 2015. Katharine and Ian had both worked in start-up and fintech previously, and knew from experience in other markets that mobile money delivers quality customer service at low cost.

Once they discovered 70 per cent of the UAE population (the low-income migrant workers) are essentially unbanked, and knowing how successful branchless banking has proved in the UK, USA and South Asia, they inspired to develop NOW Money for them.

What’s your key message to an entrepreneur starting a business venture in the Middle East?

Talk to people about your idea! Especially other entrepreneurs and start-ups, who have their ear to the ground and will know whether you might have competition. Even better, they might know someone who could join you to make a winning team. Most people worry that if they talk about their idea, it will get “stolen”. There are very few truly “new” ideas left, and no start-up has enough spare time to want to steal someone else’s ideas!

Talking to others is your first point of market validation. If you’ve got a great idea and the persistence to see it through, it’s your oyster!


This is part of the cover feature that appeared in the April 2017 issue of Gulf Marketing Review. To subscribe please call: +971 4 369 7573