Applications open in Bahrain 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 around BD20,000 (more than $50,000 USD), global exposure, and validation from one of the world’s most trusted brands


Manama, Bahrain, 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 startups pitch their innovative solutions to solve tomorrow’s payment and commerce challenges. This year’s Saudi Arabia edition of VEI is open to fintechs in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman.

In addition to monetary prizes totaling around BD20,000 (more than $50,000 USD), VEI winners gain access and exposure to Visa’s vast networks of partners in the banking, merchant, 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 BD4,900 ($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.

This year’s VEI in Saudi Arabia will see an in-person competition in Riyadh on June 14, 2023. 

“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 BD6 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 BD200,000 ($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 BD37,000 ($100,000 USD). ThriveAgric also won the BD7,500 ($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 Bahrain (June 14):

  • Bahrain 1st place winner: BD15,000 ($40,000 USD)

Open to fintechs from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman: Impact Award: BD4,900 ($13,000 USD) (one winner)

The deadline for VEI application is May 14.

For more information about VEI, please visit our website.