- UAE-based tech firm Astra Tech has acquired the voice-calling app “Botim”, with the aim of creating a super app with instant messaging and digital payments.
- Founded in 2018 by Lei Guo and Renjian Zhou, Botim offers free video and voice calls, as well as money transfers within the UAE, phone recharges, and bill payments locally and internationally.
- Following the acquisition, Astra Tech will allow users to pay bills and access government services through the app, and order food and groceries.
- In July 2022, Astra Tech raised $490 million in funding, enabling it to acquire the Emirati fintech PayBy in the following month, and now Botim for an unknown value.
Astra Tech (Astra), a UAE-based technology development group, has successfully acquired BOTIM, the MENA region’s leading VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solution, to relaunch into an Ultra app. The support of $500 million in fundraising, led by G42, is accelerating the relaunch of BOTIM into an ultra app serving the region’s everyday needs. This milestone addition to Astra’s portfolio is the most recent in a string of strategic acquisitions in 2022, including Rizek, home cleaning services, and Payby, a homegrown fintech company, which will seamlessly integrate into BOTIM to offer a range of services through a single integration.
Astra will continue its pursuit of strategic acquisitions for BOTIM while synergistically working with its architecture, research, development, and tech teams to fast-track design and development to go to market. The acquisition of BOTIM is a landmark transaction for the MEA’s tech scene, as the app is the region’s largest and most popular MENA-built communications platform. BOTIM boasts 90 million registered users and 25 million active users. The acquisition gives Astra Tech a massive advantage as it plans to expand beyond super apps and build the region’s first Ultra app with BOTIM. Additional plans for BOTIM, are expected to be announced in Q1 of 2023.
Abdallah Abu Sheikh, a pioneering serial entrepreneur in MEA and the founder of Astra Tech, is spearheading the formation of BOTIM’s relaunch and will emphasize the importance of creating a monolithic app with several services, an intuitive interface, and a strong value proposition for customers and merchants with scalable and profitable unit economics. BOTIM’s relaunch will reshape the boundaries of the digital ecosystem to combat the customer fatigue that stems from multiple platforms trying to force unnatural user behaviour through scattered digital offerings.
Abdallah Abu Sheikh, Founder of Astra Tech, said: “The need for an all-encompassing app accessible to all customers that can re-steer economics in the right direction while giving customers, merchants, and investors a fair deal is paramount. BOTIM will be the first of its kind in the region to simplify interactions of hundreds of millions of users, allowing them to engage and transact seamlessly. Acquiring BOTIM puts us on a path to continue our mission of disrupting consumer technology and building a global benchmark of what an Ultra-app should look like.”
Abdallah’s wealth of entrepreneurial experience, including projects such as RIZEK and Barq, has seen Astra Tech make rapid strides since its inception in March 2022. This swift progress, along with the financial support received from its investors, is accelerating the launch of the ultra app.
Astra has followed a hybrid strategy of putting together one of the region’s leading technology development teams and acquiring strategic digital assets to enable the company's ecosystem to integrate smoothly and offer vast capabilities to its users quickly. BOTIM, the region’s most popular VoIP app, saw its popularity explode during the COVID-19 pandemic as it provided much-needed communication solutions such as video, audio, instant messaging, and group chats with up to 500 users. By leveraging BOTIM as the base of the ultra app, Astra Tech will be able to reach millions of users in record time to become the MEA region’s most trusted consumer platform.