Jordan's fintech landscape is buzzing with innovation and the ecosystem is undergoing a remarkable digital transformation, the past 5 years have been essential in shaping the world of fintech in this country: mobile wallets, digital banking, digital payment gateways, and many other services are taking the financial services sector to another level making people’s lives a lot easier and more efficient.
Rainmaking: MENA’s Innovation Powerhouse
The whole MENA region has been going through waves of evolution when it comes to fintech and innovation, which has given us at Rainmaking Innovation MENA so much insight and understanding of the market and the users.
Over the past 3 years, we have made significant strides in establishing a robust presence in the MENA region through the team’s efforts which have led to the successful launch of multiple acceleration and incubation programs in MENA covering a diverse range of industries: Fintech, SportsTech, HealthTech, SmartCity and partnering up with huge entities like: VISA, Dubai International Financial Center, Saudi Aramco, STC, IBM and so many more.
Through a combination of tailored programs, workshops, and a global network of experts, Rainmaking MENA has played a pivotal role in the success of many regional and local startups.
In an exciting step, Rainmaking MENA has made a significant entry into the Jordanian market through its collaboration with The Jordan Payments and Clearing Company (JoPACC) and its newly established JOIN Fincubator, short for the “Jordan Innovation Fintech Incubator.” JoPACC, a private shareholding company, owned by the Central Bank of Jordan and all the other operating banks in the Kingdom, has made strides in modernizing and digitizing the financial services sector in Jordan, the home of 7% of the fintech startups in the region, a commendable number for an emerging market economy, where fintech solutions are emerging as essential tools to drive financial inclusion and promote economic growth.
JOPACC: Jordan’s Fintech Revolution
JoPACC, is a domestic payment system operator that manages and develops several payment systems, introduces innovative digital financial solutions that directly benefit end-users, and produces and disseminates knowledge about digital financial services in Jordan. During the past 5 years, JoPACC has successfully reshaped the digital financial services landscape in the Kingdom, allowing room for the fintech industry to grow.
Among these achievements, CliQ stands out as one groundbreaking product that has revolutionized and redefined the way Jordanians manage their finances and transactions. CliQ enables sending and receiving money between bank accounts across all participating banks in Jordan instantly, and to and from any mobile wallet. CliQ services, which are available 24/7 and are integrated into the mobile applications of banks, facilitating direct and smooth access for bank clients to CliQ.
In addition, JoPACC owns eFAWATEERcom, the electronic system for the presentment and payment of bills, regarded as one of the most advanced systems that drive the expansion of digital payments in Jordan. eFAWATEERcom, operated by MadfooatCom, enables instant payment for bills and services, transforming the user experience in payments and exponentially saving users time, effort, and costs in paying their bills and receiving services. There are over 1500 payment services available through the system, covering all sectors in Jordan.
These payment solutions, among others, have empowered users with the convenience of managing their bank accounts, transfers, and payments which has made it a game-changer in the realm of personal finance. Building on the many successes of JoPACC over the past five years, JOIN Fincubator was born as a response to His Majesty King Abdullah II's 2022 Economic Modernization Vision, which specifically identified fintech as one of the key enablers of a sustainable digital economy. JOIN Fincubator inauguration comes to reinforce JoPACC’s position as the financial innovation hub in Jordan.
Rainmaking Innovation Lands in Jordan: Igniting Fintech Transformation
At Rainmaking MENA, and as JoPACC’s vendors to power the programs of JOIN Fincubator, we worked on the creation of a fintech incubation program attracting innovators and entrepreneurs from all over Jordan and supporting the mission to action this transformation on the ground starting with a 6-month incubation program that caters to the Jordanian financial ecosystem.
The incubation program is designed and structured in a way that carefully takes every idea in a passage of validation and shaping up until it’s ready for the first prototype. Beginning with a nationwide call for applications where aspiring entrepreneurs were invited to submit their innovative fintech business ideas, the selection process involved a comprehensive evaluation of the ideas, founders interviews, and long intensive internal meetings.
As a result, 16 startups were accepted and qualified for the 6-month Incubation Program at the JOIN Fincubator.
FOUNDATIONAL PHASE: The Bootcamp
We started with an intensive 3-week bootcamp where 30 startups soaked up so much knowledge focusing on finance, entrepreneurship, and business led by local serial entrepreneurs and industry experts, ending with a pitch day where participating startups pitched their business ideas to a panel of fintech experts hoping to qualify for the next stages.
After a long pitch day in front of a jury panel of industry leaders, 16 out of 30 startups qualified for the next stages after successfully submitting their business model canvas, a coherent pitch deck, and demonstrating more readiness for the upcoming phases.
This bootcamp was a valuable experience for the participating entrepreneurs as it gave them a taste of what the journey takes going through its challenges and glory within a very intensive timeframe. These 3 weeks were a true test of the founders’ passion and drive to push through no matter the circumstances.
PHASE I: Idea Validation
During this phase, the main objective was to make sure that these amazing solutions were based on real existing problems for a real existing target audience. Every entrepreneur can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking ‘they have solved for the next big thing’ before testing on the ground. However, most thought-to-be greatest ideas are either killed or majorly pivoted once they start discussing it with people, listening to the opinions of experts, and extracting insights from possible users.
Going through these interviews, and not always getting the results they were hoping for, was not an easy barrier for all entrepreneurs to cross. This presented a very important lesson to be learned: entrepreneurship is a continuous learning and unlearning process.
PHASE II: Idea Shaping
This stage comes after the entrepreneurs have validated the problem-solution fit. During the shaping phase, they begin to dig deep into their business model, their target audience, ideal customers… This is where they put the knowledge they’ve gained into action and start visualizing their solutions, and what their customer journey is going to look like. Things will get technical here as startups start working on high & low-fidelity prototypes while maintaining a human-centric approach that puts the customer at the heart of it.
Mentorship plays a huge role in this phase; every startup is paired with a local fintech expert who dedicates a one-hour weekly session with the founders to refine their products in a way that is in line with the local market needs and regulations and avoids many mistakes first-time entrepreneurs tend to make.
PHASE III: Building & Developing the Idea
This is considered the final stage where all startups should have an initial MVP or a prototype that is ready for the first testing cycle to get as much traction and data as possible, allowing for revision and reiteration.
Throughout this multilayered phase, participating startups will not only build and develop their products, but they will also have intricate deliverables to build and present. This final phase will shed some light on defining and shaping their brand identity in a way that resonates with their target audience and reflects the essence of the business, highlighting the values, the culture, the character, and the purpose.
The beauty of this entrepreneurial journey lies in sharing it with a passionate team that believes in your vision and adopts your mission. Building this team is an absolute challenge that requires fostering an environment of motivation and a culture of excellence that drives the company’s continuous success.
Empowering Innovators: Navigating Challenges & Wins
“Working with the JoPACC and JOIN teams on the incubation program has been an exhilarating and rewarding experience for us. We've seen tremendous potential within our first cohort and are excited to witness their innovative ideas come to life. The solutions we've seen so far have been remarkable, and we're confident that they will contribute to the growth and vibrancy of Jordan's fintech ecosystem.” Noor Abu Jbara, program director at Rainmaking MENA, has been experiencing this ecosystem coming to life firsthand, which has allowed her to gain valuable insights into the challenges and the dynamics of this environment enabling her to provide informed direction and leadership.
We, at Rainmaking MENA, believe that the learning process is two-way; as our startups receive guidance and insights from all mentors and trainers, they also have enriched our knowledge and brought more perspective.
The remarkable success of the current JOIN Fincubator cohort extends far beyond the mere development of their business ideas. What truly sets this group apart is their unwavering commitment to elevating their understanding of their business and most importantly, their relentless dedication to personal and professional growth.
JOIN Fincubator’s Winning Edge
JOIN Fincubator stands out from other incubators as a unique extension of the Central Bank of Jordan providing unparalleled access to the banks of Jordan, offering startups a gateway to the financial sector, and connecting them with industry experts, resources, and potential partners.
What makes JOIN stand out is its Regulatory Sandbox; Jo Reg Box, offered by the Central Bank of Jordan within JOIN Fincubator, a tool that creates a secure and legitimate testing environment mirroring the local market, supporting startups in their crucial phases with insights and feedback allowing them to test their innovative solutions, interact with the regulator, and significantly enhance their chances of developing solutions that resonate with the needs of the local audience.
Ecosystem Magic: The Power of Mutual Support
Running this program you come to realize that without this access to a supportive ecosystem, entrepreneurship can become a lonely and scary journey, especially in the first stages when founders are planning and making decisions on their own. Initially, this was a shared encounter among many in our cohort. However, this awareness became the catalyst for cultivating an environment steeped in perpetual collaboration. It sparked numerous dialogues about the subject, creating a space where all founders found solace and a heightened sense of reassurance.
Local Talents, Global Impact: Fintech’s Transformative Force
Fintech innovation holds immense importance in local markets around the world, and programs dedicated to fostering this innovation play a pivotal role in empowering local talents to positively impact the lives of millions: it stimulates economic growth benefiting both individuals and businesses, expands its access to new unserviced markets, and it can position local markets and startups as competitive players on the global stage.
In essence, fintech innovation empowers local talents to leverage their unique insights and capabilities to create solutions that directly address the needs of their communities, which in return contributes to financial inclusion, economic growth, and improved living standards for millions of people.