HomeTechTürkiye's record Series A fintech fundraise fuels 2024 prospects

Türkiye’s record Series A fintech fundraise fuels 2024 prospects


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Türkiye’s startup ecosystem kicked off 2024 with a record-breaking number of early-stage investment deals in the first quarter. Now, early-stage investments are spotlighting financial technology ventures, drawing the attention of foreign investors.

Midas, a fintech startup offering low commission rates for investing in American stock exchanges and Türkiye’s Borsa Istanbul, made a significant breakthrough as it raised $45 million in a Series A funding round from global investors.

It marks the biggest ever Series A fundraise by a Turkish fintech and the second-largest early-stage investment on record that fuels prospects. Financial technology startups are poised to be the stars of 2024.

Midas has managed to become Türkiye’s most widely used stock market application which has surpassed 2.5 million users in just three years.

New products

Until now, Midas has provided users with the opportunity to invest in American stock exchanges and Borsa Istanbul with low commissions on a single platform.

With the new investment, it aims to offer its users the opportunity to invest in crypto assets and investment funds effortlessly and free of charge.

The record investment comes at a critical time in the global economy, amid discussions of recession and financial instability.

The Midas team. (Courtesy of Midas)

The confidence this investment instills in Midas, especially during challenging times, reverberates globally. Nasdaq, the world’s largest technology exchange, celebrated Midas on a giant screen in Times Square.

The raise was led by Portage, a prominent investor in the global financial technology sector with participation from the World Bank’s investment arm, International Finance Corporation, with Spark Capital, Earlybird Digital East Fund, and Revo Capital doubling down on their previous investment in the company’s $11 million seed round in 2022.

‘Wave of transformation’

Paul Desmarais III, co-founder of Portage said Midas is leading “a wave of transformation within Türkiye’s financial landscape.”

“Globally, Portage invests in transformational financial technology and Midas is poised to lead that initiative in a region of early adopters. We are very pleased to participate in the development of Midas and to support this ambitious team in bringing financial inclusion and access to wealth-building tools to the Turkish people.”

Midas CEO Egem Eraslan said the investment once again demonstrates Midas’s commitment to being the sole mobile application for all investment needs.

“The fact that the world’s largest funds are making such a significant investment in Midas shows their confidence in us. Our goal is to offer our users the lowest commissions and the smoothest experience across all investment products,” said Eraslan.

“In the coming days, our users will be able to invest in crypto assets and TEFAS funds through Midas, alongside Turkish and American stock exchanges. With the support this investment provides us, we will accelerate the transformation in Türkiye’s investment ecosystem.”

Türk Telekom expands fiber infrastructure, boosts venture portfolio

Türk Telekom, one of the leading telecommunications and technology companies in Türkiye, has achieved significant milestones in its efforts to bolster the nation’s digital infrastructure.

With an expansive fiber network now covering every district and village across all 81 provinces, Türk Telekom extended its fiber infrastructure to a total length of 437,000 kilometers (271,539 miles) by the end of 2023, up from 31.4 million households in 2022 to 32.2 million households.

On the startup ecosystem front, the company is seeking to facilitate the growth of next-generation technologies and support ventures that drive innovation. The portfolio value of startups Türk Telekom invested in through its venture capital arm TT Ventures has reached $190 million.

Leader in cybersecurity

In addition to its contributions to digital connectivity, Türk Telekom has taken a leading role in enhancing cybersecurity measures nationwide.

Türk Telekom CEO poses for a photo after announcing the company's 2023 financial and operational results, in Istanbul, Türkiye, April 18, 2024. (AA Photo)
Türk Telekom CEO poses for a photo after announcing the company’s 2023 financial and operational results, in Istanbul, Türkiye, April 18, 2024. (AA Photo)

By prioritizing the protection of data with a sense of national responsibility, the company has been recognized as the market leader in the cybersecurity services category for three consecutive years, according to the Türkiye Cyber Security Market Analysis Report published by the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Emphasizing its commitment to the digital transformation of Türkiye, CEO Ümit Önal reiterated Türk Telekom’s dedication to investments across all corners of the country.

“Beyond being a telecommunications company, Türk Telekom is dedicated to making the ‘Century of Türkiye’ the century of digitalization. We successfully concluded 2023, reaching our targets. To pioneer our nation’s vision of technology innovation and exports, and to lead our region with our technological expertise, we will continue our investments and activities unabated in 2024,” Önal said.

Double-edged sword of AI: Balancing productivity with security

Artificial intelligence, hailed for its contributions to content creation and improving response times in security solutions, is increasingly being exploited for malicious purposes, leading to cyber threats and data breaches.

Despite acknowledging AI’s role as a general risk in cybersecurity, a McKinsey study revealed that only 38% of organizations are actively working to mitigate it, underscoring the urgency for preventive measures.

Yusuf Evmez, country manager for Türkiye and Greece at WatchGuard, a global leader in integrated cybersecurity, deliberates on safeguarding against the paradoxes of productive AI.

Real-time translation

AI’s productivity extends to various areas like real-time translation or automating repetitive tasks, but its intentions aren’t always benign.

With no control over how information is processed, AI poses a threat to different sectors, with a risk of exposing sensitive data and affecting both individuals and organizations. Despite 53% of organizations acknowledging AI as a general cybersecurity risk, only 38% are devising solutions to mitigate it, according to McKinsey research.

Consequently, limiting the use of AI tools in infrastructures or blocking access to prevent inappropriate or unwanted usage is becoming increasingly common across sectors.

Periodic reviews

While productive AI offers numerous benefits in cost and time optimization, misuse can lead to serious issues.

WatchGuard’s Evmez emphasizes the necessity for organizations to implement preventive measures to restrict harmful usage of such technologies effectively.

“Having tools that incorporate AI and machine learning-based technologies is crucial to ensure the protection of networks and systems, safeguarding sensitive information from external threats. Therefore, solutions incorporating these technologies and integrating zero-trust approaches are instrumental in achieving this goal,” he noted.

While radical changes may not be necessary to overhaul a company’s security strategy, it remains a critical matter, according to Evmez.

“Periodic review of security solutions is essential to assess the effectiveness of protection, even without significant restructuring. WatchGuard has been working in this direction for years, leveraging innovative technology to enhance our protection model and bolster the security of our customers.”

Beware of malicious agents

AI plays a fundamental role in enhancing detection capabilities and aiding in the fight against cybercrimes, said Evmez.

“However, our solution partners and customers decide how to utilize it in their applications. In doing so, they promote the responsible and controlled usage of this technology. For instance, features like web access control in our Endpoint Security solutions and WebBlocker and Application Control in Firebox help companies control and restrict access to potentially harmful agents, ensuring secure interactions both inside and outside the corporate network,” he stated.

Webee, super app for hotels, gains ground on global journey

WeBee, the digital guest experience platform, continues its journey as a global venture, offering differentiation opportunities for the hospitality industry.

Özgür Zan, co-founder and general manager of WeBee, says the company has been seeking to add value to its customers’ customers, focusing on guests staying at hotels.

“This was our first goal. Our second imperative was to become a global leader, not just a local one. In line with these objectives, we developed our product named WeBee at YTÜ (Yıldız Technical University) Technopark, and through ITÜ (Istanbul Technical University) Technopark’s Innogate program, we conducted competitive analysis, global market analysis, and business planning. After scrutiny by dozens of mentors and consultants, we charted our course in line with our goals,” said Zan.

“As a result, we secured significant grants from the European Union, completed three investment rounds, established a company in the U.K., a sales office in Dubai, and became market leaders in three countries.”

Success in customer experience

Zan summarized their goals, stating that their achievements have opened doors for them on a global journey.

“We participated in major tourism fairs worldwide, establishing integrations and partnerships with leading software in our vertical,” he noted.

WeBee, in the guest satisfaction vertical, achieved the highest score globally with 4.9 out of 5 from Capterra, the software product rating agency under Gartner.

“The success of the product, global references, and our vision attracted the attention of companies in Canada, the U.S., and Spain,” Zan added.

Within the past year, foreign companies have expressed interest in acquiring the company, said Zan.

“However, we are not yet intent on selling because we aim to gain more market share globally with the products we have invested heavily in so far.”

Ecosystem advantage

Zan emphasized the significant advantage of the ecosystem formed in technoparks.

“Apart from the qualified workforce and experiences of academics in universities, technoparks now contribute value to the country’s entrepreneurial economy with global acceleration programs, incubation centers, events for the entrepreneurial ecosystem, identification of successful ventures and introduction to the ecosystem, attracting investors and more,” he noted.

He said acceleration programs like ITÜ Technopark’s Innogate have helped entrepreneurs to see Türkiye not only as a market but also think globally and operate on a global scale.

“This enables them to enter new markets, make the right moves and market entry strategies with limited resources, with the support of expert mentors and consultants. The social interaction among the managers of companies in the technopark, being each other’s customers, collaborating and exchanging ideas in different markets, also contributes significantly to the companies,” Zan said.

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