First Circle backs Egypt’s Balad for cross-border payments

ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, February 12 – Egyptians living abroad send more than $30 billion a year to friends and family back home. Most of the money, from Gulf states and Jordan, is sent via cash payments through money dealers. Despite a global fintech boom, Gulf countries make it hard for immigrant earners to set up formal bank accounts.

Balad is working to improve efficiency and cut costs for both unbanked senders and unbanked receivers. First Circle, a women-led African fintech investor, reupped its investment in Balad by backing its ongoing seed equity round.  

First Circle first invested in woman-led Balad in 2022, amid Egypt’s currency devaluations, which were triggered by plummeting foreign investment. The company is building a network of money transfer points at post offices and banks and partners with mobile bill payment provider Fawry.

Balad allows money senders to initiate transfers in US dollars, protecting receivers from currency volatility, First Circle’s Selma Ribica explained.