Applications open in Saudi Arabia for Visa Everywhere Initiative, a global innovation competition for fintech startups

  • Visa Everywhere Initiative supports startups with solving today’s most pressing payments and commerce challenges, with monetary prizes totaling more than SAR500,000 (approx. $150,000 USD), global exposure, and validation from one of the world’s most trusted brands


Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 26 April 2023: Applications are now open for the Saudi Arabia edition of the 2023 Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI), a global open innovation competition that sees fintech startups pitch their innovative solutions to solve tomorrow’s payment and commerce challenges.

In addition to monetary prizes totaling more than SAR500,000 (approx. $150,000 USD), VEI winners gain access and exposure to Visa’s vast networks of partners in the banking, merchant, and government sectors. The winners also benefit from receiving recognition from one of the world’s most trusted and valuable brands.

This year’s edition of VEI introduces a SAR50,000 (approx. $13,000 USD) Impact prize, which goes to the one competitor whose solution has a positive social impact on the communities it operates in. Examples include initiatives that boost financial inclusion, promote sustainability, or safeguard the environment.

VEI in Saudi Arabia will see an in-person competition in Riyadh on June 14, 2023.  The winner from Saudi Arabia will progress to the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) finales livestreamed on July 27 on TechCrunch – a leading online publisher focused on the tech industry and the startup ecosystem. The startup that wins at the CEMEA Regionals will participate in the global finale, which will be held on September 19 at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.

This year, Visa's VEI CEMEA is set to introduce for the first time an award in the Risk and Security domain - Fintechs Innovating in Risk Excellence, or ‘FIIRE’, Award, aimed at global Fintech players across fraud management, cybersecurity, and credit risk, among others. The winning Fintech will receive a SAR100,000 (approx. $25,000 USD) prize.

“The Visa Everywhere Initiative is a platform that empowers fintechs and entrepreneurs to showcase the most ground-breaking, impactful solutions in the world of payments and commerce,” said Ali Bailoun, Visa’s GM for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman. “Through their technology-driven, innovative solutions, fintechs have the potential to offer broad social benefits to the markets they operate in – particularly when it comes to providing financial services to those who have traditionally been underserved. At Visa, we believe access to the digital economy drives equitable, inclusive growth, and VEI is an important means of supporting the innovators playing a leading role in this space.”

Since its launch in 2015, VEI has helped startups representing more than 100 countries collectively raise more than SAR60 billion ($16 billion USD) in funding, with a network that includes nearly 12,000 startups from across the globe. Last year, VEI awarded more than SAR2million ($530,000 USD) in prize money over the course of the competition, which saw over 4,000 startups participate from five regions. VEI 2022 saw Nigeria’s ThriveAgric take home the VEI Global grand prize of SAR375,000 ($100,000 USD). ThriveAgric also won the SAR75,000 ($20,000 USD) Visa Direct prize.

VEI is seeking innovative and ambitious entrepreneurs who are uplifting communities by solving payment and commerce challenges faced by businesses of all sizes and sectors, including:

What we are looking for

Enablers of digital services and digital issuers

  • Blockchain and cryptocurrency
  • Crowdfunding
  • Banking-as-a-Service
  • BIN sponsors
  • Issuer/processors
  • Program managers

Digital issuance

  • Blockchain and cryptocurrency
  • Alternative lending
  • Personal financial management
  • Money transfer and remittance
  • Digital banking (aka neo banks)
  • Digital wallets, peer-to-peer (P2P) and transfers
  • Employee benefits
  • Payables
  • Corporate cards (aka expense management)

Value-add for merchants and/or consumers in the finance space

  • Data and analytics
  • ID, authentication and security
  • InsurTech
  • Loyalty
  • Merchant services and tools
  • Process and payment infrastructure
  • Retail technology
  • Other

Small- and medium-sized business recovery

  • Money movement (disbursements, Intra-account, P2P vendor and payments)
  • Acceptance (e-commerce and mobile acceptance)
  • Risk management (chargebacks, etc.)
  • Brand management (Community building, etc.)
  • Other

New categories for 2023:

  • Sustainable fintechs
  • Risk 
  • Urban mobility 

This year’s prizes for fintechs based in Saudi Arabia (June 14):

  • 1st place: SAR150,000 ($40,000 USD) and participation in CEMEA Regional Finales
  • 2nd place: SAR100,000 (approx. $27,000 USD)
  • 3rd place: SAR50,000 (approx. $13,000 USD)

Open to fintechs from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman: Impact Award: SAR50,000 (approx. $13,000 USD) (one winner)

VEI CEMEA Regional Finales Prizes (July 27):

  •  1st place: SAR75,000 ($20,000 USD)
  • Audience Favorites: SAR37,500 ($10,000 USD)
  • Risk Winner: SAR100,000 (approx. $25,000 USD)

The deadline for VEI application is May 14.

For more information about VEI, please visit our website.