Is Sahl the Future of Utility Bill Payments in Egypt?
Mokshita P.
What's the Deal

Is Sahl the Future of Utility Bill Payments in Egypt?

Innovative fintech firm Sahl aims to transform Egypt's utility bill payments market with NFC technology and B2B solutions, expanding services to Saudi Arabia and enhancing user experience.

There's this startup based in Cairo called Sahl, and they've just raised US$6 million in Series A and seed funding. This funding round was led by Ayady for Investment and Development, a top Egyptian investment firm known for backing innovative startups. They were joined by existing investors like Egypt Pay, Delta Electronic Systems, and E-Finance.

With this new funding, Sahl is aiming to evolve into a full-fledged financial services provider. They're going to use the money to refine their current offerings and develop new ones, all while focusing on making the user experience as smooth, secure, and time-saving as possible. After a successful launch in the UAE, they're planning to expand further into the region by setting up offices in Saudi Arabia and strengthening their presence in Egypt.

Sahl's big goal is to become the leading company in facilitating digital payment transactions in Egypt's booming digital payments sector, which is worth about EGP 2.5 trillion. They want to capture a significant share of the utility bill payments market, which alone is worth around EGP 250 billion annually. To achieve this, they plan to form strategic partnerships to open up new distribution channels, tech collaborations, and co-marketing opportunities.

The CEO, Abdullah Assal, mentioned that Sahl is focused on solving the challenges consumers face with utility payments. They started with electricity and plan to expand to water, gas, telecom, and other essential services. They're using innovative NFC technology, which means users don’t have to leave their homes to charge prepaid cards, saving them a lot of time and effort.

Ahmed Othman, the CPO, added that Sahl aims to provide a world-class user experience in a market that has traditionally compromised on the end-user experience.

What sets Sahl apart is that they're one of the few Egyptian companies that have direct integrations with several government entities. This means users can easily access services from the Egyptian Electricity Holding Co., New Urban Communities Authority for water, all the telecom operators, Petrotrade for gas, Cable Network Egypt for TV subscriptions, and more.

Recently, Sahl has been expanding beyond direct-to-consumer functionalities to cater to the B2B sector. They’ve introduced two product lines: the Services Gateway and Acceptance solution. The Services Gateway acts as a central hub for bill payment services for other payment processors and enterprises, while the Acceptance solution allows businesses to seamlessly accept online payments, making financial transactions smoother.

Hazem Kamel from NI Capital, the investment manager for Ayady, expressed excitement about investing in Sahl. He believes Sahl has the potential to transform bill payments in Egypt, making financial services more accessible and convenient for everyone.

Interestingly, Sahl's founders have a strong track record in the financial services and payments landscape in Egypt. Abdullah Assal has deep industry knowledge from his time as VP at Globaltronics, a major player in Egypt's utility meter market. Ahmed Othman has financial and strategic expertise from his background as an investment banker at CI Capital. Ibrahim Assal, the CTO, has tech experience from working at companies like Palantir, Careem, and Microsoft. This combination of skills positions the Sahl team to revolutionise digital payments, especially in the utilities sector.

Since they started in 2020, Sahl has become a major player in the Egyptian fintech scene. They serve over 12 million customers monthly and 15 million households in Egypt. Through their app, users can pay bills for electricity, water, gas, telecom top-ups, tuition fees, TV subscriptions, and even make donations, saving about 30 minutes per transaction. They process billions of Egyptian Pounds across 50+ services.

So, Sahl is really making waves in the fintech industry by streamlining and improving the way people pay their bills and manage financial transactions in Egypt and beyond.