LEAP23 has shattered benchmarks once again after confirming 172,000 attendees this year, making it the world’s largest technology event by attendance. Organisers of Saudi Arabia’s LEAP – the world’s most visionary, and now most attended, technology event have revealed next year’s edition, which will run from March 4-7, will move to a new home to ensure the pioneering platform continues to accelerate the Kingdom’s digital transformation.
After two game-changing outings, LEAP24 will transition to a 120,000 square metre capacity venue next year, enabling the third event to double in floor size and cater for even more innovative future technologies, digital entrepreneurs, tech startups, and high-profile guest speakers.
Powered by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) in conjunction with Tahaluf – a strategic joint venture co-owned by Informa PLC and SAFCSP – LEAP’s expanded new venue will further enhance the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s position as the largest digital market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
“Momentum continues to go into orbit. In its first edition, LEAP22 enjoyed the largest debut of any technology event in history. In its second year, LEAP23 has rewritten the rule book once more to become the world’s largest technology sector event by attendance,” said Michael Champion, who heads Tahaluf, organisers of LEAP.
A core enabler in Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030, the four-day LEAP23 saw an unprecedented 300,000-plus visitor registrations from more than 100 countries, and welcomed a high-profile faculty of 1,000 global investors – up from 350 last year. Comprising major investor groups, sovereign wealth funds, private family groups, as well as major venture capital and private equity funds focused on technology, LEAP23’s investor faculty boasted assets under management totalling US$2 trillion.
With on-event transactions exceeding US$9 billion – a 32 per cent year-on-year increase on the US$6.8 billion in deals announced in 2022 – LEAP23 has injected fresh foreign direct investment impetus into Saudi Arabia’s rapidly evolving digital ecosystems and startup economy. Major announcements this year have included mega infrastructure investments and multiple new data centres nationwide, a raft of billion-dollar-plus public-private partnerships, and new academies to foster and upskill homegrown talent.
During the closing remarks of LEAP23, Champion added: “There is no limit to the ambition of this event, or this nation. While the on-event investment announcements are truly unprecedented, the legacy of this year’s show will extend further and deeper than anyone can truly comprehend.
“There are 380,000 technology professionals currently working in Silicon Valley – the world’s tech capital – and there are 340,000 employed in Saudi’s technology industry. We are still only seeing the tip of the iceberg and when we consider that technology investment, adoption, innovation, and entrepreneurship are key pillars in the Kingdom’s ambitious economic diversification strategy, the potential for LEAP to power Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation and galvanise growth across the international technology arena is unlimited.”
SeerBit unveils Alpha, to enable businesses in Africa to drive growth
Seerbit, a Pan-African payment solutions provider, has unveiled Alpha, a white-label product that makes it easier for financial institutions, travel and hospitality companies, online marketplaces and other businesses to drive growth and expedite the penetration of digital payments in Africa by seamlessly launching their own digital financial technology solutions.
Despite the growing trend of digital commerce on the continent, only 5 to 7 per cent of all payment transactions are made via electronic and digital channels. Most transactions are still happening offline which means the majority of consumers are burdened with the inefficiencies of cash-based transactions. This also means there is a significant amount of untapped value as consumers are unable to effectively access credit and other financial services because their cash-based transactions do not give financial institutions enough insight into their spending behaviours to provide the services they deserve.
At the same time, across multiple industries, there are already countless businesses that regularly interface with consumers across the continent and have visibility into these spending behaviours but either have limited access to digital payment solutions or do not have the capacity to build what they need for themselves. Most end up transacting with cash because it is what they are used to, or they settle for off-the-shelf digital payment solutions that only offer generic services.
SeerBit Alpha takes the hassle out of businesses having their own personalised fintech solutions to deliver the services customers want and need, powering them to not only drive growth but add value to their customers by providing easier access to game changing digital financial services. Businesses simply need to plug SeerBit Alpha into their existing platform and they will be enabled to seamlessly offer credit, operate their own payment gateway to facilitate reliable collection of payments from customers, launch digital banking services such as account opening, fund transfers and other banking services, as well as international money transfers, catering to the needs of customers that offer cross-border payment needs.
Businesses can also leverage SeerBit Alpha to sell mobile phone credits and billing services, enabling their customers to purchase mobile phone credits directly through their platforms, expanding their service offerings and opening additional revenue streams.
According to Omoniyi Kolade, CEO and Founder of Seerbit, “Our mission at SeerBit is to make it as easy as possible for businesses to leverage digital payments to drive growth and SeerBit Alpha is one of the products that helps us to achieve this. We are taking away the complexity of having to build your own solutions and giving businesses the opportunity to take advantage of our tried and tested innovation. By leveraging our cutting-edge technology, businesses can unlock new opportunities, drive growth, and establish themselves as leaders in the evolving fintech landscape.”
SeerBit is building a unified payment ecosystem that removes the complexity and fragmentation from the digital payment process in Africa, enabling businesses to seamlessly accept multiple payment methods and streamline online and offline transactions. The company has operations in 10 African countries with a wide range of solutions developed to drive the adoption of digital payments across the continent and enable better payment experiences that positively impact businesses bottom lines. Its partners include The British Council, United Bank for Africa, WiX and other prominent local and international companies.
Flapmax Partners Intel to Accelerate Artificial Intelligence Innovation in Africa
Flapmax, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) company, announced today its strategic partnership with Intel, the global technology leader, to foster AI innovation and drive economic empowerment in Africa. The collaboration will provide technology access, training, mentorship, and funding opportunities to entrepreneurs in emerging markets, starting with Africa, through the FAST Accelerator program. FAST is designed to help startups that are building cloud-based and AI-enabled products and services supporting Africa’s communities, companies, and governments.
“Flapmax has been working with Intel to develop sustainable digital solutions that readily expand AI accessibility in underserved communities, and we are excited to build on our momentum with the FAST Accelerator program,” said Dr. Dave Ojika, Founder and CEO of Flapmax. “Bridging the knowledge gap in technological advancement is key to creating meaningful social impact. Through this partnership with Intel, Flapmax will bring cutting-edge technology and advanced curricula, including generative AI, robotics, and deep tech, to innovators in Africa and other technologically underserved communities.”
Created by Flapmax in partnership with Microsoft, FAST Accelerator combines business development, AI integration, funding, and community building opportunities designed to enable startups to scale more rapidly and sustainably. More than 800 startups from 25+ countries applied to join the inaugural program. Startup leaders are encouraged to apply to this year’s FAST Accelerator program. The top startup participants will embark on an enriching five-week program in Silicon Valley, California, forging relationships with industry experts, potential investors, and global partners through Flapmax’s vibrant ecosystem of over 600 corporate partners.
“Intel’s mission to shape the future of computing and enable a more intelligent, connected, and productive world aligns perfectly with Flapmax’s vision to bring AI technology to all aspects of life, inclusive of underserved populations in Africa and other emerging markets,” said Michael Campbell, General Manager, Education Client Division, Intel Corporation. “The partnership with Flapmax will greatly accelerate AI adoption for these communities, driving scalable business growth, optimized operations, and contributing to a more sustainable world.”
Program participants will collaborate closely with Intel through extensive mentorship and coaching, ranging from co-innovation projects to sales & marketing support and go-to-market enablement to expand their reach to a broader audience. Members of the Flapmax engineering team will help startups apply new Intel-optimized AI hardware and software solutions as well as scale and fine-tune their AI models on Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Participants will benefit from additional perks, including Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub (up to $150,000 of cloud credits) and Azure OpenAI (including ChatGPT, DALL·E 2, and other Large Language Models: LLM releases), as well as access to Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 developer sandboxes.
OPay to apply for a digital bank license in Egypt
OPay Business Development & Partnership Director, Mahmoud Khedr (Image: Supplied)
OPay, a leading and rapidly growing provider of financial technology and electronic payments solutions, has announced its intention to apply for a license to establish a digital bank in Egypt with a capital of $60 million, according to the rules for licensing and registration of digital banks, and control and supervision recently issued by the Central Bank of Egypt.
This step is within the framework of OPay’s commitment to its role in developing the Egyptian digital economy, supporting the Egyptian state’s plans towards digital transformation, strengthening the principles of financial inclusion, and building a society less dependent on cash transactions, using the best, fastest and safest financial technology solutions in the Egyptian market provided by OPay, along with its experience in the field of digital transformation in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, Nigeria and Pakistan.
“OPay” aims to enhance its services with innovation and the latest technological solutions to meet the needs of the Egyptian market, and facilitate the conduct of financial and banking transactions for customers, as the company will work through the digital bank to provide lending, savings and card services via the Internet without the need for customers to go to branches, in addition to OPay services to accept payments Such as points of sale, digital payment gateway, and electronic wallets.
Mahmoud Khedr, Director of Business Development & Partnership at OPay, said: We are excited to obtain a license to establish a digital bank in Egypt, and to work hand in hand with the Central Bank of Egypt and all concerned authorities to start this step, which represents a new beginning to keep pace with global developments in the field of financial technology”.
He also explained that “OPay” is qualified to make a breakthrough in this industry as it has 5 years of experience in the financial technology sector in the countries in which we operate, which represents a real impetus towards achieving success and achievement in Egypt.”
Khedr added, “We achieved great successes last year, as the value of our sales in the region amounted to more than 50 billion dollars, while the number of users of the “OPay” application in all countries reached about 30 million users, and we aspire to exceed these numbers in the current year and achieve unprecedented record rates.”
He added: “We thank the leaders of the Central Bank for the initiatives it is launching to create a supportive climate for the financial technology industry, and for the unlimited support for the financial technology sector and the directives of its leaders towards advancing the digital economy and the great role it plays in developing and developing this sector.”