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September 1, 2020

Entrepreneur Insights: Banking app RISE lives up to its name launching new features amid COVID-19

The banking app Rise, which helps low-income migrants in the Gulf region manage their finances and build a brighter future, addressed problems triggered by COVID-19 head on by offering medical consultations, recruitment services and financial literacy courses to its users.

“There has been a tremendous take up during the coronavirus. We provide digital financial services which people can access without leaving the house. Especially during the pandemic, we saw that this need was amplified,” Padmini Gupta, Co-Founder of Rise, said. “We also worked with the community development department in Dubai to offer recruitment services, making open jobs more accessible to our users who may have found themselves unemployed due to COVID-19.”


Rise – which is reimagining banking and democratizing access to essential financial services for migrants – bridges financial services from migrants’ host and home countries all on one platform. They offer a range of financial products such as bank accounts, insurance policies, investment tools and financing options which allow them to easily purchase electronics and other goods.


“We already provide insurance services via AXA so we added on teleconsultations so anyone who was worried about their health could get help without leaving their home during the lockdown. We also offered workshops for people worried about their financial situation due to job loss, and we offered financial literacy sessions to help them figure out what to do next,” Gupta said.


Upward mobility

The idea for Rise was born when Gupta’s house assistant asked her for a year’s salary upfront for a family emergency. The fact her nanny did not have any savings after 15 years of working in the UAE made Ms Gupta realise there was a big problem that needed solving.


“That’s how we came up with the work around for Rise – we wanted to help people move up and build a future,” Gupta said.

Rise estimates that 68 per cent of the population in the UAE do not have a bank account. “These are people who are mostly paid in cash. We empower them by helping them open up bank accounts,” Gupta said.

While the app has tens of thousands of users currently, the company has set ambitious targets, aiming to bring its services to over a million migrants across India, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Kenya and Pakistan over the next two years. Over USD $ 150 million flows to their platform annually. 


Furthermore, many migrants are the primary breadwinners in their families. In order to give more peace of mind to this cohort, Rise partnered with AXA to launch a free life insurance product that covers low-income migrant workers in case of death or disability.


In March, Rise received a seven-figure investment with the help of Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), one of the largest venture capital firms in the Middle East, with more than USD 260 million in assets under management.


Companies like Rise, which provide essential banking services to low-income migrants, have thrived in spite of the economic challenges created by COVID-19, which gives its investors optimism about the future of its business model.

This article was realized in collaboration with The Content Engine.

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