Dubai fintech baraka raises $20 mln from Valar, Knollwood

DUBAI, Nov 16 (Reuters) – Dubai-based fintech firm baraka said on Wednesday it raised $20 million in a funding round led by New York-based Valar Ventures, backed by billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel.

Investment firm Knollwood also invested in the Series A round, baraka said in a statement, adding that it was the first investment in the Middle East for Valar Ventures.

Baraka, which provides “commission-free” investing in U.S. stocks and exchange-traded funds, said it would “double down on its presence across the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and Egypt, and drive customer acquisition.”

The company said it “will continue to attract global fintech talent to the region while hiring locally for key positions across departments” and “will also explore new markets for expansion in MENA (the Middle East and North Africa).”

“The region’s emerging fintech ecosystem has immense potential and we’re encouraged by the early signs of traction that baraka has been able to showcase,” Andrew McCormack, general partner at Valar Ventures, said.

Baraka is backed by Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s prominent incubator and startup fund, and is also part of Abu Dhabi’s state-backed tech ecosystem, Hub 71. Its investors include venture capital firms including Class 5 Global, Global Founders Capital and Venture Souq.

The company said it was working with stock exchanges in the region, like Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul to allow local trading on its app. The Gulf has seen an IPO (initial public offering) boom that has defied global market trends.

“In just one year since our launch, tens of thousands of users have signed up to baraka,” Chief Executive Officer and founder Feras Jalbout said.

(This story has been corrected to fix details on hiring and expansion in paragraph 4)

Reporting by Yousef Saba; Editing by Rashmi Aich

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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