Egypt-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) firm MerQ has closed a seed round from an individual angel investor Ahmed Kamal Selim. The financier now has a minority stake in the company, which is currently valued at USD 800 K. The startup will use the investment to develop its products, prominent of which is Sally – a chatbot via Facebook that introduces Egyptians to all credit card systems within the North African country.
The company – founded in August 2018 by Waleed Ghalwash – aims to cover various topics of financial literacy in banking and non-banking services and to help in financial inclusion by assisting the Egyptian public in making financial decisions through raising awareness on banking and financial sectors.
Bots In MENA
Egypt seems to be a hot zone for Artificial Intelligence startups ever since the space came to life. The recent investment in MerQ only adds to a series of other financing rounds in the sector, of which one was a raise by human-assisted AI startup Elves, who received USD 2 Mn in a seed round from a league of investors comprising Emarr, the Kauffman Fellows Syndicate, Dubai Angel Investors and other angels from the MENA region and the United States.
There has also been acquisitions in the space, among which WeeTracker reported an acquisition deal by Samsung Electronics whose affiliate Samsung Next snatched a 100 percent stake in AI startup Kngine – a startup that uses Artificial Intelligence to develop an understanding of content by continuously reading the web and building a memory of knowledge for users to get precise answers for queries.
The new investee majors in fostering financial literacy in Egypt, especially in banking and non-banking services, while doing its bit in financial inclusion by helping the country’s public to make money-related decisions through by rousing awareness on the banking and financial sectors.
One Good Round Deserves Another
According to Crunchbase, MerQ raised USD 800 K in this round, while MENAbytes reports that the startup has its eyes set on another funding, as it discusses with other investors to raise money by Q3 this year to roll out new financial products. The quasi-fintech firm said in a statement that it’s its MO to bolster the vision for financial inclusion and leverage technology to increase the penetration of financial and banking services in the cradle of civilization.
Ahmed Kamal Selim, whose Twitter handle informs as a banker and entrepreneur with a vision for a better Egypt, is a finance expert with more than 20 years of experience in retail, investment baking, brokerage, and restructuring services. Per a comment to MENAbytes, the investor revealed that the funding was inspired by a personal interest in AI and financial inclusion. Artificial Intelligence has quite many promises for Africa, to which end Ahmed says it’s Egypt’s priority to stay updated with the global digital economy.
“We are delighted to have been able to complete our first financing round shortly after the launch of our first products into the market namely “Sally.” This financing allows us to expand our service offerings within the financial services ecosystem and supports our expansion plans in the country,” said Walid Ghalwash, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) at MerQ.