Saudi Arabia-based buy now, pay later (BNPL) platform Tamara has become that nation’s first unicorn.
The company announced Monday (Dec. 18) that it had closed a $340 million Series C round, giving it a valuation of $1 billion. The term “unicorn” refers to a startup with a valuation of at least $1 billion.
“This historic investment not only cements Tamara as the first Saudi FinTech unicorn startup, but also positions the company for a transformative leap in an underpenetrated and underserved sector,” the company wrote on LinkedIn.
“Our vision goes beyond BNPL, and with the Series C funds, we’re set to transform shopping, payments, and banking across Saudi Arabia and” the Gulf region.
The funding follows the $150 million in debt financing Tamara secured in March to help finance its BNPL product and expand into new verticals.
In an interview with PYMNTS last year about growing investor interest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Tamara CEO Abdulmajeed Alsukhan said the company’s goal is to engage more with customers, lead them to the right sellers, and help those sellers to increase their sales efficiency.
“We want to do all that we need to increase the delight of [MENA] shoppers and ensure financial inclusion by providing the right credit facilities and making payments seamlessly,” he said. “This is where we’re doubling down on.”
The funding comes as consumers continue to use BNPL for a number of reasons, with preserving cash and managing credit lines ranking among their top priorities, according to recent PYMNTS Intelligence research.
More than half the respondents surveyed said managing their cash flow was their chief reason for using BNPL, while another 18% called it a significant factor, although not the primary one.
Breaking down payments into affordable installments offers consumers control over the timing of their expenses while hanging onto a cash buffer and access to credit lines.
“In an uncertain economic environment with high inflation, accessing credit payment options that most effectively preserve cash is likely to become increasingly important for consumers, especially those who live paycheck to paycheck,” the study explained.