UAE: VoIP app Botim to be relaunched; free calls to continue working

UAE-based Astra Tech has acquired the popular app; will add additional features like remittances and food, grocery delivery, among others


Sahim Salim

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Published: Thu 12 Jan 2023, 1:58 PM

Last updated: Mon 25 Mar 2024, 12:16 PM

UAE-based technology development group Astra Tech (Astra) has acquired VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solution Botim. The company plans to relaunch it into an ‘ultra app’, it was announced on Thursday.

Its current features — including free calling — will continue working even as it’s being redeveloped.

Led by G42, the support of $500 million in fundraising is accelerating the relaunch, “serving the region’s everyday needs”.

Famous for offering free video and voice calls, Botim will transform into a “multifaceted conversational commerce app”. This would facilitate users to access various products and services such as fintech, remittances, p2p money transfer, bill payments, government services, pharmacy, retail, food delivery, grocery, and more. Currently, it offers free calls; money transfer within UAE; phone recharges and bill payments locally and internationally; group chats and calls; desktop access for chats and calls; and games, among others.

Once relaunched, it will have feature updates and product add-ons. The focus will be on acquiring new users and push the existing base to try new services. The app will have a “new look and feel to it from a design perspective”.

Botim is the region’s largest and most popular communications platform with 90 million registered users and 25 million active ones, who open the app more than 15 times a day.

Additional plans for its development are expected to be announced in Q1 of 2023.

Botim’s popularity surged during the Covid-19 pandemic as it provided communication solutions such as video, audio, instant messaging, and group chats with up to 500 users. By leveraging it as the base of the ultra app, Astra Tech hopes to reach millions of users to become the “region’s most trusted consumer platform”.

This 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.

“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 group said.

Abdallah Abu Sheikh, founder of Astra Tech, is spearheading the formation of Botim’s relaunch. It will offer several services and an intuitive interface. The relaunch aims to combat “customer fatigue” that stems from multiple platforms trying to force “unnatural user behaviour through scattered digital offerings”.

Abu Sheikh 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.”


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