valU partnership to offer consumer finance in KSA

RIYADH, KSA: FAS Labs, owned by Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co., the leading franchise retailer in Saudi Arabia, and Arabian Centres Company (ACC), the leading owner, developer, and operator of lifestyle shopping centers in Saudi Arabia, have entered into a strategic partnership with valU for Consumer Finance S.A.E. (“valU”) on the 5th of June 2022.

The agreement will accelerate the geographical expansion of the MENA region’s leading Buy-Now, Pay-Later (BNPL) lifestyle-enabling fintech platform, providing digital consumer finance solutions in Saudi Arabia through FAS Finance.

The partnership agreement will result in FAS Finance being 65% owned by FAS Labs and 35% by valU. FAS Labs was recently established to lead the joint digital initiatives of Alhokair and ACC, offering Saudi customers a range of accessible and customizable digital consumer finance solutions, to build and scale a fully integrated shopping platform that engages consumers throughout the entire purchase journey, from pre-purchase to post-purchase.

valU’s existing platform, technological capabilities, and proven track record will expedite FAS Finance’s ability to develop and scale a fully integrated shopping platform leveraging accessible digital financing solutions. In Saudi Arabia, the solutions will be available across Alhokair’s expansive retail network of more than 1,000 stores, as well as online on Vogacloset and the monobrand websites, including 14 in Saudi Arabia. It will also extend to other vendors, retail networks, and merchants to include and cover the entire Saudi market.

Commenting on the partnership, Mohamad Mourad, Managing Director of ACC and interim Chief Executive Officer of Alhokair, said: “Arabian Centres and Alhokair share a pioneering history and a strong team with longstanding partnerships contributing to a robust retail footprint in Saudi Arabia.

The launch of FAS Finance and the strategic partnership with valU are perfectly aligned with our commitment to drive a robust omnichannel experience. Through the integration of innovative payment solutions, we offer greater affordability and value for our customers, all available through one digital platform. In addition, our tenants have access to added value and benefits through this cohesive purchase platform.

This significant milestone is indicative of ACC and Alhokair’s commitment to provide Saudi consumers with an integrated, forward-thinking lifestyle experience and be the partner of choice for local and international brands.”

The solutions will also be offered to ACC’s tenants, located across 21 shopping malls in 11 major cities in the Kingdom. ACC will utilize FAS Finance solutions to offer visitors and tenants unmatched digital financing solutions across all their shopping malls.

For valU, the strategic partnership marks an important milestone, supporting its strategy to expand its customer base by entering new markets. Saudi Arabia will be the first market that valU enters outside of Egypt, building on the robust growth in its home market.

“We are honored to be partnering with Alhokair and ACC as part of our strategy to expand our product offering in new markets,” said Karim Awad, Group CEO of EFG Hermes Holding. “Saudi Arabia is the largest GCC country with a growing population and a strong economy, offering immense opportunity for valU to cater to a rising consumer need for digital access to finance. EFG Hermes has been in the Saudi Arabian market since 2007 offering brokerage, research, and advisory services, this is a market we are committed to acting as catalysts for wider change within our industry. We are proud to have grown a strong brand like valU that offers finance solutions that directly feed into elevating consumers’ lifestyles. We believe that the partnerships we have forged and continue to initiate change and actively contribute to the future prosperity of both business and society,” concluded Awad.

FAS Labs obtained preliminary approval to establish FAS Finance as a Shariah-compliant digital consumer finance company from the Saudi Central Bank in January 2022. The final approval and the change in ownership of FAS Finance (previously wholly-owned by FAS Labs) remain subject to final approvals by the regulatory authorities: Saudi Central Bank, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Investment, and General Authority for Competition.

“We are delighted to enter this strategic partnership. valU has retained its position as the market leader in BNPL solutions in the MENA region and Alhokair choosing us further cements this. valU’s launch in KSA comes as a natural progression of our strong partnership with Alhokair and is our first move outside of Egypt with other similar moves to follow soon. We will also be utilizing our extensive network that we have built with valU for brands that have presence in the Saudi market and extending our services to include them” said Walid Hassouna, CEO of the Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFI) platform at EFG Hermes Holding and CEO of valU.

“We are thrilled to be issuing cash loans for the first time which will be complementing our BNPL solution offering. With valU being a platform through which consumers can seamlessly access financing solutions across various sectors, we serve as a conduit enhancing affordability. We pride ourselves in creating solutions that help our clients enrich their lifestyle every day, from shopping to education to sports to entertainment to travel and more,” concluded Hassouna.

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