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UAE’s National Bonds partners with Astra Tech to expand access to Shariah compliant investments

Shariah compliant savings and investment company National Bonds and consumer technology holding group Astra Tech have entered an MoU to provide Halal investment opportunities to 10 million users of voice-calling app Botim in the UAE.

Through this collaboration, Astra Tech customers will have access to Shariah compliant microfinance options through Botim, supported by Al Manassah, a platform owned by National Bonds, which in turn is owned by the Investment Corporation of Dubai. Customers will also be able to invest in Halal saving certificates through Botim.

“Through this partnership, we are expanding our range of services and enabling our users to conveniently invest and save – these are two elements of finance which have always had high barriers of entry in the region, but we are slowly changing this for the better,” shared Abdallah Abu Sheikh, CEO of Astra Tech and Botim.

Earlier in January, Astra Tech confirmed it had acquired Botim with the goal of turning the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution into what it calls an “ultra app”, an attempt to distinguish itself from the crowded super app space. The platform aims to become an all-inclusive digital platform by incubating fintech, e-commerce and communications into a single user experience. Botim currently operates in 155 countries, offering VoIP, international money transfers, bill payments and UAE visa services to over 150 million users worldwide.

“The app space has become overcrowded over the past few years, with many platforms that are now causing a serious case of app noise and fatigue to users. We believe that a chat-based approach to offer all our services, on top of Botim, will provide users of all backgrounds and demographics with a single access point to the services they need, making our services inclusive and scalable,” Abdallah previously said in May.

To achieve its ultra app ambition, Astra Tech in 2022 made a string of acquisitions including that of PayBy and Rizek. Its strategy is to acquire digital assets and marry them with technology development teams to enable the company’s ecosystem to integrate smoothly and ensure timely roll-outs.

In May, Astra Tech relaunched Botim as ultra app Botim 3.0 after introducing its first fintech service – an in-chat remittance service. The app now offers P2P transactions and e-commerce services and is looking to introduce video tutoring and telemedicine later this year.  

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