Hazem Abdalla, CEO of fintech company Quadrant tells us about the company’s first product which is talking Egyptian banks into revealing more information about their services online.
Long queues and slow flow of customer service is what pops in mind once the word “banks” is heard. The men behind the fintech company Quadrant, who come from both financial and marketing backgrounds, are on a mission to shorten the queues and speed up the flow in banking services, as well as other services in Egypt.
Banks are so used to the clients commuting to the closest branch, or dialing up their hotline to ask the agent about these details. “We convinced them that this is a new age, there is a new generation called the millennials, and they are overtaking now. They are the majority, and before they do anything, they google it,” Quadrant’s CEO and Co-Founder Hazem Abdalla tells Startup Scene.
About 84 percent of Egyptians are not banked yet. In paradox, the biggest sector in the services field is the banking sector. “Basically, we thought that when people want to compare between financial services provided by banks, they have to visit each and every bank,” Abdalla says. “So instead of visiting 10 branches of banks, or calling up 10 call centres, people can go to one dedicated website where they can find lots of banks and compare between their services and apply for the service online. This was the initial idea behind Qarenhom.”
Together with his co-founder Mostafa Hassan, Abdalla has established Quadrant in late 2015; a fintech startup that provides innovative value-added services, electronic payments, and rewards solutions. The main purpose of Qarenhom as the main project of the company was to establish the first comparison website for services. “It is a well-known model abroad; the most famous website is the UK-based Money Supermarket. Their market cap is more than GBP 2 billion. So, it’s a huge industry. Especially comparing financial services,” says the CEO.
“In Egypt, we have several comparison websites for products such as prices for mobiles, laptops, gadgets, like Yaoota.com,” Abdalla says. “But to compare services, there are none;” which inevitably makes Qarenhom the country’s first comparison website for services.
To pull this off, Qarenhom had to secure deals with partners such as banks and insurance companies to feature on their website; after all, the website’s revenue stream heavily relies on the commission extracted from those deals. Since the soft launch in July 2017, Qarenhom started with the banking services, so far, they have 10 banks on board; they sealed deals with seven banks and are finalising with three others. then we added travel services, car insurance, educational and training centres.
“Signing a contract with a bank is not an easy thing; not in Egypt and not anywhere. Banks are usually very slow, and the decision making takes a lot of time. To sign with the banks that we have on board, it took us more than two years.”
Convincing a bank to include the interest rate of the personal loan, the details, the required documents, everything about the process, was such a difficult task. “The market was not used to this,” he adds. “Some of the banks that included all of those details on our website, do not have them on their own websites.”
Qarenhom has 500,000 visitors and for the past nine months, the total search was for personal loans; the value of which exceeded EGP 40 billion. Once they got the banks on board, convincing the other companies and partners such as travel agencies and car insurance companies was a piece of cake.
So far, users have 50 travel agencies to choose between. “The key difference between booking on websites such as Booking.com and booking via Qarenhom is that we compare the travel packages compiled by travel agencies in Egypt,” Abdalla says. “On-ground travel agencies often have more competitive prices than the ones online.”
By default, Qarenhom has to stay objective, otherwise the entire point of comparison would be void. “We give the users the right to rate, and that’s how we guarantee the objectivity.”
“Revenue streams vary from one service to the other, in banking it’s based on cost per lead, getting leads from banks is how we generate revenue,” Abdalla says. “With regards to travel agencies, we take commission on each package that are sold through Qarenhom, and same goes to the other services.”
The co-founders are gearing up for their first seed round; for which they're in talks with local and regional investors. To expand their reach, Quadrant is looking to raise $1.5 million; most of the funding will be spent on marketing for their product. Since the services Qarenhom covers touch almost every member in Egypt's demography, they want to take Qarenhom's marketing campaign to Radio and TV channels. "We have a goal to reach 4 million users per year, and expand the team from 10 people to 30."
Photography by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions.
Photographer: Eslam Mohammed.
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