Astra Tech's Botim exceeds AED 1.3bln transactions in four months

Astra Tech, MENA’s leading consumer technology holding group, now leads the UAE’s remittance industry through Botim. Botim’s fintech PayBy has witnessed an exceptional increase in remittances, processing 1.3 billion transactions and growing by 41x since its launch in January 2023. Botim has rapidly positioned itself as a financial powerhouse, equalling the capabilities of traditional banks. This transformation is underpinned by an expansion in its user base, now exceeding 150 million users, demonstrating a remarkable surge in user adoption.Since January, the PayBy-powered Ultra app witnessed a 75% increase in the number of transactions quarter-on-quarter across its fintech offerings. The most substantial remittance corridors are from the UAE market to India, followed by Pakistan, and the Philippines. The platform recorded a 98% success rate on all processed transactions to date. Botim’s milestone is a result of its strategic acquisitions and partnerships that have been instrumental in underpinning this growth, including a recent collaboration with Fawry in Egypt and the acquisition of Y Finance in the Philippines.To facilitate cross-border financial transactions, Botim strategically allied with MoneyGram at the start of the year to establish itself as a pivotal player in the remittance industry. Further enhancing its capabilities, Astra Tech recently partnered with Mastercard to introduce Botim-branded multi-currency prepaid cards. This initiative is part of Astratech’s ongoing mission to enable transactions for billions of users worldwide through a network of strategic partnerships and integrations.Abdallah Abu Sheikh, Co-founder of Astra Tech and CEO of Botim, said: “In just a few months, we have already emerged as the UAE's foremost player in remittances. Our Ultra app vision is rapidly coming to fruition, showcasing our strength and innovative fintech products. Botim has seamlessly evolved into an extensive platform, offering a wide range of financial services, including peer-to-peer transactions, international money transfers, and cards. The platform's inclusive approach empowers individuals without traditional banking access to conduct seamless global transactions, benefiting both users and merchants.”Astra Tech's strategic acquisitions and innovative solutions, reaffirm the platform's commitment to revolutionizing the remittance landscape and pioneering transformative financial services for users worldwide. In the UAE, where over five million migrants are sending $42 billion every year back to their respective home countries, this significant milestone represents a transformative leap toward a digital-first UAE economy, seamlessly combining innovation and inclusivity. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the company remains dedicated to reshaping fintech accessibility and experiences while championing a more connected and empowered future.

Astra Tech and JW Group join forces

Dubai:  Astra Tech (Astra), the leading consumer technology holding group in the MENA region, is proud to announce its joint venture with JW Holdings, a bouquet of business lines including home appliances, electronics, automotive, glassware, packaging,  agriculture, retail, e-commerce, sports and foundation, and the parent company of Ruba Digital (RD). The collaboration will innovatively integrate RD within the Botim ultra app’s e-store, allowing users in UAE to purchase a wide range of consumer durables to be delivered in Pakistan through RD’s extensive retail chain network of 150+ outlets, spanning across 130 cities.  In addition to providing a seamless, cross-border electronic shopping experience through the ultra app, Pakistani expats based in the UAE will benefit from Shariah-compliant financing options up to 12 installments, offering added convenience and financial ease.  This strategic partnership is a significant milestone for Astra Tech, reflecting its commitment to harnessing technology and strategic alliances to cater to diverse customer needs. It also brings RD's extensive presence in the Pakistani market to offer reliability and trust for the ultra app users, as they deliver purchased items to friends or family in Pakistan. Speaking on the joint venture, Abdallah Abu Sheikh, Founder of Astra Tech and CEO of Botim, said: “Our partnership with JW Holdings marks another step in our mission to simplify people’s everyday lives through digital sovereignty. The integration of RD into the Botim e-store enables us to make advanced solutions accessible to Pakistani expats in the UAE, making the process of purchasing and delivering items to friends and family based in Pakistan easy. By ensuring a seamless user experience and introducing Shariah-compliant financing options, we remain steadfast in our commitment to enhancing the lives of our users and meeting their diverse needs, while offering a range of inclusive financial services.”Muhammad Javed Afridi, Chief Executive Officer of JW Holdings, commented: “JW Holdings group is glad to announce the breakthrough of its new venture with esteemed International Partner Astra Tech. With unwavering focus on innovation and Customer satisfaction, JW Holdings through its retail channel RD, will revolutionize the way of shopping Consumer Durables for its consumers living in UAE.He added: “Through their Botim app, Pakistani expats could easily connect with their loved ones living far beyond the borders but always nearer to their heart. Shopping through the Botim stores while sitting in UAE, with the deliveries bound in Pakistan for their families, will be a unique and unprecedented experience for users who could easily opt either for Cash settlement or for Shariah-Compliant installment financing plans.”Botim users outside of the UAE can still purchase consumer electronics from RD through the ultra app to have them delivered in Pakistan, however, Shariah-Compliant installment financing plans are currently only available to users in the UAE. Together, Astra Tech and JW Holdings are unveiling new avenues of innovation for Pakistani expats in the UAE, who make up 12.69% of the country’s population according to Global Media Insights, bridging the gap and making cross-border shopping convenient, accessible, and financially feasible, with plans to launch in other countries.

Astra Tech launches autonomous shopping experience with Facepay

Dubai: Astra Tech, the leading consumer technology holding group in the MENA region, has officially launched its first autonomous shopping store in Sky Tower, Abu Dhabi; the imaginative brick-and-mortar location operates solely using artificial intelligence (AI). “B Store,” an innovative retail concept, is revolutionizing the shopping experience in the UAE through faster payment processing and fewer hassles. Powered by cutting-edge AI technology and cloud integration, B Store offers a seamless and fully automated shopping experience that lets shoppers pay for their purchases by simply using their faces.Integrating facial recognition technology for customer payments in an autonomous store is a unique offering that sets Astra apart. The store focuses on grocery items with extended shelf life, ensuring customer satisfaction and convenience. This innovative combination showcases Astra’s commitment to expanding and enhancing its services. At B Store, shoppers can expect a hassle-free journey from start to finish, as the process is designed to provide a seamless and convenient shopping experience. Upon approaching the entry gates, the customer is greeted with an ELO screen displaying a message, "Tap or Scan to Enter." They have the option to pay using the POS machine by tapping their card or utilizing Payby’s revolutionary FacePay; users can act out the action instead of selecting an on screen. For card payments, customers proceed to tap the POS machine with their card, while for FacePay, they move to the FacePay machine and simply look at it. Once the payment method is completed, the ELO screen will initiate a question about their receipt.When selecting their preferred option, the gates open, granting access to the store.. Inside the store, customers can comfortably retrieve their desired items in the most convenient and smooth manner. Upon leaving, they receive a text message on the provided phone number, expressing gratitude for their trip and informing them that their receipt is being processed. A subsequent message contains a hyperlink, allowing customers to click and view their receipt conveniently.Valeriya Thores, Autonomous E-Commerce Director at Astra Tech said: "We are thrilled to introduce the first-ever B Store and redefine the future of retail. This innovative integration of facial recognition technology revolutionizes the way we shop and showcases our commitment to providing unparalleled convenience and security. Step into the future of retail with B Store, where your face becomes your ultimate payment method. Our vision has always been to simplify the everyday for our customers, and this is another step in that direction."The Ultra app is taking its offerings one step further by harnessing the power of AI and creating an autonomous store where customers can seamlessly complete transactions using the power of their faces. Driving the industry forward with its pioneering vision, Astra Tech is re-imaging the future and solidifying its leading position at the forefront of the regional technology sector.

Astra Tech partners with Etihad Airways to launch flight bookings on Botim

Dubai: Astra Tech (Astra), a leading consumer technology holding group based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a partnership with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, that will enable customers to book flights through BOTIM, the MENA region’s leading VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solution, which was recently relaunched as an Ultra app. The partnership was signed today at the Arabian Travel Market, between Etihad CEO Antonoaldo Neves and Astra Tech’s Founder, Abdallah Abu Sheikh.With this partnership, Astra Tech and Etihad are providing customers with a fresh and hassle-free approach to booking flights. Through the BOTIM GPT module developed by Astra Tech, flights and other travel-related services are integrated into the Botim app, offering a convenient and innovative way for customers to book Etihad flights.The partnership aims to enhance the travel experience for customers by focusing on promotions and financing solutions, underscoring the companies' steadfast commitment to delivering innovative and customer-focused solutions that meet the evolving needs of today's travelers. Working together, Etihad and Astra Tech will provide customers with a comprehensive and integrated travel experience that simplifies the process of booking flights and accessing other travel-related services. The integration of flights into the Botim app enables customers to enjoy a more convenient and all-inclusive travel experience, making it easier than ever before to plan their travels.Antonoaldo Neves, CEO of Etihad Airways, said: “Etihad is excited about this new partnership with Astra Tech, as it provides a unique opportunity to launch flight bookings on Botim, a communications platform that families and friends use to stay connected. By integrating flight bookings into the application, Etihad becomes a part of the conversation, making it convenient for guests to book flights without leaving the platform. Additionally, the integration of new payment options, including installment plans, simplifies the booking process for customers. Etihad is committed to staying at the forefront of the constantly evolving digital landscape by exploring and adopting innovative solutions, such as GPT-enabled flight bookings, to deliver the best possible experiences to its guests.”Abdallah Abu Sheikh, Astra Tech’s Founder and Botim’s CEO, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Etihad Airways to bring this innovative solution to our customers. This partnership will allow us to offer a never-seen-before feature to BOTIM users. We are revolutionizing the way people will book flights by making it as easy as asking a question. This represents our ability to connect people, not only virtually but physically, all around the world using the latest technology in artificial intelligence.”Earlier in the week, Astra Tech (Astra), announced the launch of Botim 3.0, The platform is now an all-inclusive digital platform for its users by combining fintech, e-commerce, GPT, and communications into a single user experience. Botim is a powerful digital tool meant to ease every user's life through access to services such as Botim Money for peer-to-peer transactions and international transfers, Botim Stores with access to 100,000+ stores including, and advanced video services such as tutoring and telemedicine later this year. Botim 3.0 is available to users around the world, providing the world’s only seamless and open access to communicate and transact to and from the MENA region.

Botim becomes the world’s first “Ultra app”

Dubai: Astra Tech (Astra), the leading consumer technology holding group in MENA, has announced the launch of Botim 3.0, the world's first "Ultra app”. The term “Ultra App” has been coined to distinguish the platform from the crowded super app space. The platform aims to become an all-inclusive digital platform for its users by incubating fintech, e-commerce, GPT, and communications into a single user experience.Botim is a powerful digital tool meant to ease every user's life through access to services such as Botim Money for peer-to-peer transactions and international transfers, Botim Stores with access to 100,000+ stores including, and advanced video services such as tutoring and telemedicine later this year. Botim 3.0 is available to users around the world providing the world’s only seamless and open access to communicate and transact to and from the MENA region.The Ultra platform differs from super platforms in that it is built on top of a more frequently used case, communication, which eliminates the need for users to learn new behaviors to adapt to the platform. Through communication, many other services are enabled, leading to very high adoption rates from users.Abdallah Abu Sheikh, Co-Founder and CEO of Astra Tech, Botim’s parent company, stated: “The app space has become overcrowded over the past few years, with many platforms that are now causing a serious case of app noise and fatigue to users. We believe that a chat-based approach to offer all our services, on top of BOTIM, will provide users of all backgrounds and demographics with a single access point to the services they need, making our services inclusive and scalable.”BOTIM launched its first fintech service and the world's first in-chat international money transfer a few weeks ago with tremendous success in the UAE, India, and the Philippines, changing the remittance landscape regionally and showcasing the power of the Ultra platform. With millions of users now able to transfer money easily and securely, BOTIM is revolutionizing how people manage their finances. BOTIM is now expanding its financial services through its sister company, PayBy, to offer a fully integrated wallet that includes peer-to-peer, payments, and personal financial solutions. With licenses from the Central Bank-UAE and the largest user base in the region, BOTIM is cementing its position as a leading financial technology platform.BOTIM continues to demonstrate its innovative approach and establish itself as a top technology player by introducing the world's first executional Arabic GPT. This groundbreaking system will enable users to easily execute a wide range of tasks within the Botim ecosystem, including booking airline tickets, ordering coffee, initiating international money transfers, scheduling tutoring sessions, sending meeting invites, and more. With a global user base of over 150 million, BOTIM's executional Arabic GPT will redefine how people access and use digital services.Astra Tech holds the position of being the region's largest platform by number of users and amount of transactions. Its unrivaled technical capabilities are a direct result of its strategic acquisitions of some of the region's most important tech, communications, and e-commerce companies. The company continues to launch new innovative and cutting-edge solutions in its ambition to consolidate the consumer space under one platform.

Astra Tech's PayBy disrupts fintech solutions

PayBy, a leading fintech innovator recently acquired by Astra Tech in August 2022, has been licensed by the Central Bank of the UAE to conduct Stored Value Facility (SVF) and Retail Payment Services (RPS) operations. The license represents one of the country's highest levels of financial services approvals, enabling Astra Tech’s PayBy to continue altering the fintech landscape with its payment solutions. Customers and merchants will experience ultra-fast and secure services, such as international money transfers, seamless payment solutions, wallet top-ups, and more on Astra Tech’s upcoming app to be launched in the coming months.Founder and CEO of Astra Tech, Abdallah Abu Sheikh, commented: “We are honored to have secured the license from UAE’s Central Bank which marks a huge milestone achievement for both Astra Tech and PayBy. We’re excited to launch our secure payment solutions to customers and merchants in the UAE to enable smoother digital transactions and make everyday commerce friction-free. We have always aligned with the UAE’s vision of creating a cashless ecosystem and are thankful to the Central Bank for trusting us with our secure technology. Astra Tech will stay true to its mission of offering a more robust value proposition to customers and merchants by eliminating the burden of unfavorable & compounded commission structures that are usually passed on to suppliers, partners, and consumers by today’s super apps.”Astra Tech is acquiring and equipping sector-leading customer-centric businesses with disruptive and progressive technologies that will enrich merchants’ and users’ lives with effortless usability and efficiency, a gap that currently remains unfulfilled in the UAE digital commerce space today.Astra Tech is one of the biggest additions to the MEA’s ever-growing tech ecosystem aiming to raise 500 million USD (AED 1.8 Billion) from various strategic investors and partners, bringing the company one step closer to its vision of launching an app. PayBy is one of the largest fintech companies in the region, with over AED 600 million in transactions as of May 2022, and aims to build an all-in-one mobile payment ecosystem in the UAE and GCC, offering a safe and contactless payment solution. Astra Tech’s acquisition of PayBy follows the company’s recent acquisition of Rizek, a platform for on-demand personal and home services.