Saudi Arabia-based startup Tamara has partnered with Salla, an ecommerce platform that powers online stores in the Kingdom.
Tamara allows customers to purchase items online without initially paying for them. Instead, at the checkout screen the customer can choose to pay for the item 30 days later, or in three installments with no additional fees.
In a statement, Tamara said that its payment solution would now be available for customers shopping at more than 10,000 merchants powered by Salla, which itself provides a payment and logistics solution to prospective online store owners. Salla facilitates the backend payments for small businesses in Saudi Arabia in a similar model to Shopify.
“Tamara was founded by Saudi founders, powered by a global team and driven by solving regional problems. Our core focus now is Saudi Arabia for the vast potential that the country has. In the near future, we will also serve customers across the rest of the GCC and the wider MENA region,” Turki Bin Zarah, one of Tamara’s three founders, told Al Arabiya English.
The announcement comes after ecommerce has surged in Saudi Arabia over the past year as customers respond to coronavirus rules, reducing the amount of shopping conducted at traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
“This will play a big role in changing the purchasing behavior of customers in the Saudi e-commerce market. A leading fintech startup like Tamara is going to disrupt the shopping and payment experience as we know it,” Musaab Hakami, a Saudi Arabian investor in both Salla and Tamara, said in the statement.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a global economic crisis, with experts previously noting that the downturn will be the biggest the world has seen in nearly a century, although ecommerce has continued to rise.
“The service provides a unique value proposition for customers given the flexibility of the payment terms and the fact that it is at no extra cost. As for merchants, Tamara buy now pay later solution aims to help merchants improve their sales in a variety of ways,” Salla co-founders Salman Butt and Nawaf Hareeri said on the announcement of the partnership.
In context of the coronavirus pandemic, however, business launches may be considered surprising to some, but Bin Zarah was bullish on the move.
“If not now, then when? This pandemic has taught us that managing our personal finances is crucial and this has motivated us to enable consumers to spread the cost of their purchases instead of putting pressure on their wallets,” he said.
“Tamara puts customers and their protection first by offering them an inclusive, transparent, and secure financial solution. The pandemic has also been tough on merchants and small businesses who are at the heart of our solution,” he added.
Most exciting startup hub in the region
Saudi Arabia is home to the Gulf’s biggest potential customer base, and the Kingdom’s authorities have been working to deregulate business rules and encourage startups to grow.
Earlier this year, serial entrepreneur Jack Selby, managing director investment firm Thiel Capital and founding member of PayPal, told Al Arabiya English that Saudi Arabia “is clearly a market that you really want to focus on,” noting its size as a clear advantage.
Bin Zarah echoed Selby’s comments, adding that, “Saudi Arabia is the most exciting startup hub in the region. Specifically, for fintech startups like Tamara, the Kingdom is a great place to be in. The government and the regulators are offering tremendous support as part of Saudi Vision 2030 and the Financial Sector Development Program.”
“The majority of the Kingdom’s population are youth which are the target audience of many startups. In addition, the purchasing power in the Kingdom is high which incentivizes startups to target Saudi Arabia first,” he said.
As part of Saudi Arabia’s coronavirus economic stimulus measures, authorities earlier this year made it significantly easier to set up a business, and cut the time and cost required.
“I must say I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the process was,” Bin Zarah said.
“Saudi Arabia has sophisticated e-government systems to facilitate opening and operating a new company, which helped Tamara launch and operate quickly, even during a pandemic,” he concluded.