Singapore-based Stashaway has launched in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), after receiving an asset management licence from the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) with retail endorsement, according to a statement from the firm.
“We’re launching out of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) DIFC to service clients not just in the UAE, but the broader Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region,” a Singapore-based spokeswoman said.
The move comes after the firm completed a $16m fundraising round in July from three main investors. At the time, Stashaway said the latest round will enable the firm to support new market entry. In total, Stashaway has raised $36.4m in four funding rounds, according to the statement.
Founded in 2016, the firm launched its robo-advisory platform in Singapore in 2017. After that, it expanded in Malaysia in 2018.
Stashaway now has 100,000 users from 145 countries, the spokeswoman said, but declined to provide how much AUM it manages. According to the statement, its AUM has grown at least 4.3 times in the last 12 months.
“Following the success of Stashaway in Southeast Asia, it was a natural path to expand the firm into a thriving region such as the MENA, using the UAE as a gateway to our services,” Ramzi Khleif, Stashaway’s MENA general manager, said in the statement.
“The UAE has a large mass affluent segment that has had to rely on traditional investment products that are often expensive and generic,” he added.
The firm is looking at a few more markets in Asia-Pacific to launch its digital wealth service, the spokeswoman said, but declined to elaborate as the firm is still under talks with different regulators.
Stashaway will be targeting both retail and professional investors in the UAE, according to the spokeswoman.
“We expect significant retail adoption as these investors see the value of a sophisticated investment offering traditionally available only to HNWIs and now available to everyone at a much lower cost.
“We are also targeting the mass affluent and HNWI segments with more tailored offerings in the pipeline,” she added.
The firm already has seven staff based in the UAE, covering business development, compliance, wealth advisory and client support, and will be supported by the Singapore-based team, according to the spokeswoman.
In total, Stashaway employs 140 people across five offices, with Singapore housing the regional team that supports all countries.
Like its robo-advisory platforms in Singapore and Malaysia, Stashaway in the UAE will make use of ETFs to build personalised portfolios for investors, according to the firm’s website. It will also offer its cash management solution, “Stashaway Simple”, which is projected to have returns of around 1.2% per annum.
Stashaway will be competing against other robo-advisors in the UAE, including Sarwa and Wahed Invest. Sarwa was founded in 2017 in the UAE, while Islamic robo firm Wahed is a New York-headquartered firm that also launched its operations in Malaysia last year.
Several other digital wealth providers have also expanded outside their home markets and are now operating in multiple jurisdictions.
Singapore-headquartered Kristal AI, for example, has operations in Hong Kong and India, with clients across Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. It has around 20,000 users with an AUM of around $130m.
Sydney-based Raiz, meanwhile, has expanded in Malaysia and Indonesia. The firm has raised $1m from domestic investors in Malaysia after it launched its robo-advisory services in late-July. In Indonesia, the firm has gathered at least 90,000 users since its business opened in March last year.
Grab Financial Group, the financial services arm of Grab Holdings, is also expected to expand in Southeast Asia. After the firm acquired B2B robo-advisory firm Bento in February, it launched a wealth management solution for Grab users in Singapore.
Grab is already operating in a number of different Southeast Asian markets, which include Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, according to the firm’s website.