Khalifa Al Shamsi, CEO
e& life's is propelling its way to be a UAE super-app. Bringing in more consumer financial services elements to its entertainment options sure does make for a sound strategy. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Send remittances. Buy a health insurance policy. Watch a show or cricket (any game).

From the same platform.

That’s what e& life – part of the tech-telco e& Group – is turning out for its users, and a fast-growing one at that. So, rather than be a fintech or an entertainment portal, e& life is about being an app for all. Or, in other words, the super-app of choice.

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“Our approach is tailored, crafting services specific to each consumer segment,” is how Khalifa Al Shamsi, CEO, describes it. “This enhances business growth prospects and ensures our customers enjoy distinctive, secure, and flexible digital experiences.

“We’re always looking to innovate, eager to collaborate, form strategic partnerships, and even make acquisitions when the synergy aligns with our growth vision.”

Build on deals

That’s exactly what e& life has done, whether it’s the ownership stake in the video-on-demand platform Starzplay Arabia or add banking services through a partnership with the UAE digital-only bank Wio.

e& life clubs two entities, e& money evision, and the approach is that a subscriber who signs up for the evision sport and entertainment packages will go on to use the platform to send remittances. Or any of the other financial services on offer. Multiply the usage by the number of subscribers, and e& life is well on its way to be a UAE super-app. (e& Group also has a sizeable stake in the Careem super-app.)

“Users gain access to services such as payments, money transfers, bill settlements, loans, investments, ATM cards, and insurance,” said Al Shamsi. “We’re committed to inclusivity, ensuring all demographics - banked or unbanked - have their financial needs addressed comprehensively.”

A catch all app
“With the investment into Careem, there are also several growth opportunities with our strengths in fintech and multimedia, coupled with their services and regional footprint, will accelerate our joint vision towards a regional super app. This partnership will set new standards of product innovation and customer experience throughout the region.

As we gain momentum and chart our journey to become a super-app, we will continue to focus on offering our customers a plethora of services under a singular platform, eliminating the need to juggle multiple applications.

As we look into the future, evision's acquisition of exclusive broadcasting rights also enriches our portfolio with premium content from Hollywood and Bollywood studios, family channels, standout local language content, and exclusive partnerships for online live streaming and sporting events.”

- Khalifa Al Shamsi of e& life

Real purpose behind the fintech push

To any doubters of why e& life should be so gung-ho over offering remittances, insurance or other consumer-focussed financial services, Al Shamsi has a ready answer.

“The UAE’s fintech market stands at an impressive $39.3 billion this year in transaction value,” he said. “Predictions indicate a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) exceeding 15 per cent.

“The UAE aspires to amplify its digital economy contribution to its GDP from the current 9.7 per cent to over 20 per cent by 2031.

“Projections indicate that the national digital economy’s value could skyrocket to $140 billion by 2031 from its present $38 billion.”

When those numbers are taken in context, there is clearly no need to be second-guessing why e& life is so interested in fintech-delivered services.

Subscriber numbers

“Our emphasis saw the e& money app expand to feature open banking services and debit cards,” the CEO added. “This resulted in a subscriber base of 750,000. We also broadened our international transfer reach to over 200 countries through collaborations with global financial firms.

“With the integration of over 30 new brands for payment and bill settlements, our app’s digital service portfolio has grown.”

Since its introduction in March last, over 250,000 e& money digital cards have been issued. (Users get cash rewards equivalent to 1 per cent of their purchases when using the card during the launch — that’s a ‘perk traditionally reserved for credit cards’, Al Shamsi points out in case one missed it.)

“The future of digital services in both fintech and entertainment is about personalisation, automation and intelligence,” he said. “With emerging technologies such as AI, Machine Learning and blockchain, services will transform the way we live, work and play.

“It’s about providing a seamless experience, with all services interconnected to work together. The future is full of possibilities, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible with digital technology.”