Egypt’s e-commerce platform Wasla nabs $9 million from retail finance provider Contact

Contact Financial Holding, Egypt’s non-bank consumer finance provider, has invested $9 million in the country’s ecommerce super-app Wasla, setting the stage for the rollout of new online shopping capabilities, products and regional expansion.

Contact has been in the business of consumer finance since 2001, while Wasla was founded in 2018 by former Serag Meneassy and Taymour Sabry, both ex-Rocket Internet entrepreneurs, and investment banker Mahmoud El Said.

“It’s an equity investment, through a series of investments that aim to grow the business going forward, to enable their business plan and their achievement of the company’s vision,” Contact Financial Holding chairman Hazem Moussa told TechCrunch.

The e-commerce platform is now set to introduce a range of products and options including buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) financing and a new online payment option.

Wasla, whose experience is pegged on its browser, has different features including a deal finder that aggregates discount codes and cashback links across a network of merchants. It is set to also introduce a price-comparison tool, as it continues to add new functionalities for a better end-to-end shopper experience.

“In the checkout phase, we plan to introduce a very secure payment method…limited by time or value. And the final step is integrating financing or buy-now-pay-later solutions directly within that. It is an end-to-end ecommerce experience starting from search and discovery to financing,” Wasla co-founder and CEO El-Said told TechCrunch.

The new payment option is set to encourage shoppers to transact online because Egypt is currently a predominantly cash-on-delivery market, which El-Said said is a “costly operation for merchants.”

Offline payment is also a costly option for buyers as it comes with a cash-on-delivery fee.

Contact (previously Sarwa Capital) is set to bring in its experience in consumer finance and technology including its advanced credit services platform, to help Wasla extend financing to shoppers. Contact is said to be among the first financial services platforms to introduce advanced credit scoring and collection mechanisms in Egypt.

“We are working on extending what we have built in terms of credit engines, AI scoring engines and a variety of tools…including instant approval, fast approvals and pre-approvals,” said Moussa.

“With the whole experience being on the Wasla browser, you have a lot more access to customer behavior and customer interests and therefore be able to really tailor the programs to the user base and so that is really a big addition to the experience– from the start the journey to the payments to the financing,” he said.

Wasla currently has 1.5 million downloads and has experienced 8.5 times year on year growth in total e-commerce traffic since inception. It aggregates deals for a network of over 100, local and regional, e-commerce merchants.

The e-commerce startup is also set for regional expansion, with immediate plans to enter Nigeria currently underway.

“It’s a huge market at the end of the day, you have roughly 250 million people. They’re very technologically advanced, and their adoption of ecommerce is quite good. It’s quite the right market. There’s all the infrastructure that you kind of need to set up a proper tech business. In terms of maturity within the tech ecosystem, Nigeria is probably one of the best markets in Africa, competing directly with Egypt, South Africa and a couple of others,” said El-Said.

According to Crunchbase, Wasla has before this announcement received $1.2 million in funding from a number of investors including Ventures and Glint Consulting.

It is estimated that Egypt’s e-commerce sector generated a revenue of $5 billion last year, and this will grow exponentially as the sector experiences a 22% compound annual growth rate over the next four years. Major e-commerce players in Egypt include, which raked in net sales of $109 million in the North African country last year, btech and lcwaikiki.

Flexibits updates contacts app Cardhop, adds deeper integration with Fantastical

Flexibits, the company behind productivity apps Fantastical and Cardhop, is releasing a new version of Cardhop for both macOS and iOS. This is the second major version of the app and it adds new features, such as business card scanning, widgets, organizational charts and a deeper integration with Fantastical.

Cardhop is a clever take on contact management. It uses the same address book as the default Contacts app on your Mac, iPhone and iPad. But it lets you search, add and edit contacts much more efficiently.

On the Mac, Cardhop sits in the menu bar. When you click on the icon or hit a keyboard shortcut, you can see your contacts but you can also start typing. This is when it gets interesting.

As expected, you can find a contact card by typing a few letters. But you can also add information to an existing contact this way.

Image Credits: Flexibits

For instance, if you type a name followed by a phone number, Cardhop automatically figures out that the phone number doesn’t exist in the existing contact entry — hit enter and the number is saved. If the person isn’t even in your address book, you can create a new contact just by dumping information in the search field.

The app truly shines if you think about Cardhop as a sort of command-line interface to interact with your contacts. You can type ‘call Jane’, ‘email Tom’ or ‘whatsapp Natasha’ — Cardhop parses the action for you. It can be particularly handy to initiate calls on your iPhone from your Mac.

With Cardhop 2, the design has been updated and there are a handful of new features. You can now create widgets with your favorite actions. On iOS, you can add it to your home screen. On macOS, you can access it from the Notification Center. Widgets have been a popular feature of iOS 14 and many users will like that new feature.

If you’re also using Fantastical, you can send a calendar invite to someone else from Cardhop. And if you tend to invite the same group of people to your events, you can create a group in Cardhop. The next time you want to send an invitation, you can create an event with everyone in the group from Cardhop. This is going to be a good alternative to email aliases.

Cardhop can now also generate organizational charts and family trees based on relationships in your contacts. And if you work for a big company with a contact directory, you could easily find the right person to talk with using this new feature.

On iOS, Flexibits has also added a business card scanning feature. You can add contacts just by pointing your phone at a business card. There are many apps that offer that feature already, but now it’s integrated.

Image Credits: Flexibits

Flexibits has been around for 10 years. Originally, the company released new major updates and users had to pay to download the new version. That’s how independent development companies used to charge for apps.

Last year, the company launched a new version of Fantastical with a freemium model. New users could download the app for free and would have to pay a subscription of $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year to unlock all features. Existing users could keep using the app for free as all existing features had been unlocked for them.

After switching to this new model, Flexibits released quite a few updates to Fantastical already. For instance, you can now join conference calls quickly with shortcuts in the menu bar and in the app. Fantastical now also supports Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.

Flexibits wants to go one step further and create an ecosystem of productivity apps. Cardhop 2 is a free app with a few free features. If you want to unlock everything, you have to subscribe to the same Flexibits Premium subscription.

In other words, the company is bundling premium versions of Fantastical and Cardhop in a single subscription — and the price isn’t changing. Existing Cardhop users who don’t want to subscribe will also keep everything that was available in Cardhop 1 for free.

And if you’re already using Cardhop, it’s nice to see an update. It means that the app is going to be supported going forward. When you rely on an app for your work, it’s better when it’s regularly updated and keeps working as expected years after years. And I suspect many Fantastical users will try out Cardhop thanks to the new Flexibits Premium subscription.

Product Managers Need To Understand The Power Of A Newsletter

Product Managers know that newsletters can be a powerful way to stay in touch with your customers

Product Managers know that newsletters can be a powerful way to stay in touch with your customers
Image Credit: AJC1

As product managers we spend a great deal of our time trying to figure out how to get more people to buy our products. This is all fine, but it turns out that some of our most profitable customers may be the people who have already bought our product. Since they have already bought into our product development definition and agreed to buy one of our products, they may be more willing to buy more products, add-ons, and upgrades. Additionally, if they can remember that they have bought our product then they may be willing to recommend it to others. As product managers what we need to do is to start to send a newsletter to our customers in order to make sure that they remember us.

What’s Your Offer?

As we all know, time is precious. What this means is that if we send a newsletter to our customers, we’d like them to take the time to read it. However, if we don’t come up with a way to grab their attention right off the bat, then all of our effort is going to be wasted. What you need to keep in mind is that people need a good reason to be willing to add even more email to their inboxes which are probably already overflowing.

What this is going to mean for you as a product manager is that how you get your customers to sign up to receive your newsletter is almost as important as the newsletter itself. The one thing that you want to make sure that you never do is to add email addresses to your mailing list without the person’s permission to do so. Your sign up form is going to have to make some promises to your customers. What are they going to get out of subscribing to your newsletter? Will it be discounts on your company’s products? Will it be secret industry insider information? The key to make sure that the newsletter benefits are long term so that customer’s won’t just subscribe, get what they wanted, and then unsubscribe.

Frequency Counts

As product managers, we’d like to always be on our customer’s minds. Now, this of course is not possible, but we would at least like to make sure that they don’t forget about us. This means that we’re going to have to make some important decisions regarding how often you are going to want to send newsletters to your customers. None of us want to get the reputation of being a spammer and so we don’t want to do this too often.

The flip side of this problem is not sending a newsletter to our customers often enough. What can happen if we do that is that they end up forgetting about us and forgetting about our newsletter. In certain businesses there is a time of year that customers are most likely to make a purchase, such as around Christmas time. What can happen is that we ignore our customers all year and then start sending them lots of newsletters as Christmas approaches. A much better approach is to realize that we need to get in contact with our customers roughly once or twice a month. Do this right and you’ll have something to add to your product manager resume.

It’s All About Design

I’m willing to bet that most of us are not accomplished graphical designers and this means that we’re going to be facing a real issue when it comes to coming up with a layout for our newsletter. Product managers often like to focus on what kind of content we’re going to be including and not so much on how it’s going to be presented. What this can lead to is a newsletter that has a lot of text and very little white space separating it. This will make your newsletter hard to read.

In order to make any newsletter interesting, it’s often a good idea to include a few images. This can make the whole newsletter more attractive. However, product managers need to realize that they can’t control how their customers are going to read the newsletter. What this means is that a lot of your customers may be using software that turns ads and images off when they read online content. This means that when they look at your newsletter, the images will be removed and will be replaced with blank spaces. You need to be aware that this can happen and make sure that your newsletter still looks good even without the images that you’ve included.

What All Of This Means For You

In the era of Facebook and Twitter, it turns out that the email newsletter is still a very powerful way for product managers to get in touch with their customers. Even if it’s only the subject line, they can be assured that any customer who has subscribed to their newsletter will at least read part of it each time they send it out. Keeping your customer’s attention is a part of every product manager’s product manager job description.

In order to build up a mailing list for your newsletter, you are going to have to get your existing customers to sign up for the newsletter. This means you’ll have to create a compelling offer for them that will cause them to want to read the newsletter and not quickly unsubscribe. You’ll want to use your newsletter to make sure that your customer remembers you. This means that you need to not send so many newsletters that you come across as a spammer, but also that you send enough to be remembered. Roughly once or twice a month should do the trick. The way that you lay out your newsletter is going to be important in getting your customers to read it. Don’t cram too much text into it and make sure that if images are not displayed that it will still be readable.

A newsletter is a cheap and easy way to keep in touch with your existing customers. The key to a successful long-term relationship with a customer is communication and the newsletter is the best way to make this happen. If you take the time to create a newsletter that will contain information that your customers will want to read, then you will have created a way to stay in touch with them and to be there the next time they want to make a purchase.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: How many pages do you think that a newsletter should have?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When it’s time for you to go to the store and get some food, where do you go? Do you always go to the same place? If you are like most of us, you have relatively set patterns: you go to the same store, you walk the same aisles, and you check out at the same register. Oh sure, you might visit a different grocery store if they are running a great special or you are out and remember that you need something and somebody else is closer. However, we are all basically creatures of habit. That’s why it’s so surprising that a German grocery store chain seems to think that they can change their product development definition and open stores in the U.S. in order to be more successful…

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