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Star Tech: Micro mobility comes of age with FENIX

Launched in November 2020, the company is making waves in five countries and 13 cities in the Greater Middle East



Fenix founders with scooters
Fenix founders with scooters
by

Joydeep Sengupta

Published: Mon 7 Feb 2022, 3:00 PM

FENIX is the leading electric mobility operator in the Greater Middle East that aims to unleash urban potential and propel communities forward.

Though the UAE-based startup was launched in November 2020, it is making waves in five countries and 13 cities in the Greater Middle East.

Jaideep Dhanoa and IQ Sayed, former co-founders of Circ and colleagues at Careem, are the brains behind FENIX.  It achieved the biggest pre-launch seed funding round in the history of UAE’s technology ecosystem, raising $5.1 (Dh18.73) million.

Soon, it entered the market with the largest fleet of electric vehicles in the region.

What is MyFENIX?

FENIX Pay 2
FENIX Pay 2

FENIX is the first operator in the region to launch a private e-scooter subscription service called MyFENIX. It is a lease-to-own business model where users can avail their own e-scooters through weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly plans that include free maintenance, 24x7 customer care, as well as insurance and free home delivery.

FENIX has now expanded its offerings with on-demand shared e-bikes to make micro mobility more inclusive across consumer segments and price points.

Hundreds of thousands of riders have embraced MyFENIX. The company has launched the world’s first e-scooters with in-built hand sanitiser packs to ensure riders’ safety amid the Covid challenge.  It has also launched a rapid 10-minute delivery service for groceries and essential products.

What is FENIX Pay?

FENIX Pay is an inclusive payments service for the region that offers riders’ various payment options via credit cards, debit cards, mobile/telco credit, Apple Pay, and local e-wallets.

Besides, the start-up also eliminated the UNLOCK fees on all FENIX rides across the region on the occasion of its first anniversary in November last year.

Sayed, who is also the chief technology officer (CTO) of FENIX, told Khaleej Times how they hit upon the concept of FENIX. “During the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, we saw a rapid growth in the micro mobility segment globally. Millions of riders embraced micro mobility to safely travel and explore their cities.

Earlier, we’ve had experience in the mobility sector in the Middle East and strongly felt there was an urgent gap which FENIX could plug.

Micro mobility has an important role to play in transforming the way cities move, and ignite impactful commerce by making mobility easier, cheaper, and quite simply redesigned. The global society is in constant motion and there has been a fundamental shift to building cities for people. It doesn’t require more cars and roads, but more innovation and free navigation.

“By connecting journeys through affordable and convenient means, we create a more productive and inclusive economy while keeping the environmental footprint low. And we’ve built it as a platform, so we can extend our impact beyond mobility, said Sayed.

“At FENIX, we stand up for progress and participate in building a more inclusive, efficient, and enjoyable society, enabling cities and communities to unleash their potential,” he said.

Where is FENIX Pay operational?

FENIX Pay provides its users in all five operating countries — the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and Turkey — with a range of payment choices, including prepaid mobile credit, local digital wallets, Apple Pay, credit cards and debit cards.

“By integrating financial inclusion into our services, the startup can increase access to affordable mobility and convenient deliveries for users in the region.  It is the only vertically integrated electric mobility and deliveries platform focused on the Greater Middle East region,” said Sayed.

“Besides, through its partnership with Apaya, FENIX will continue to integrate additional alternative payment channels with local providers for its users.”

With FENIX Pay, anyone with a smartphone in Turkey and the UAE can pay for its services. All they need is live integration with the two leading national telecom providers in the UAE — Etisalat and Du — and three leading telecom providers in Turkey — Turkcell, Vodafone and Türk Telekom. It will also be launching with Mobily in Saudi and with Batelco in Bahrain later this quarter.

Consumers can top up their FENIX Pay balance through cash-based vouchers in the UAE, Saudi, Bahrain, Qatar and Turkey. Users can simply approach a FENIX Associate in an operating area, or when receiving a delivery and purchase a voucher using cash, card on delivery, or local digital wallet transfers including STC Pay in Saudi Arabia and Benefit Pay in Bahrain. “We plan to add support for local mass transit cards as well,” said Sayed.

There is a bid to serve underbanked customers as well. Data shows that about a third of retail transactions are conducted electronically, due to factors such as underdeveloped digital-payment infrastructure and services, underbanked consumer and merchant segments, and a cultural bias towards cash.

However, this percentage is set to grow over the next few years. FENIX Pay increases the payment options available to its users and enhances the overall consumer experience. Many people could want to use e-mobility and delivery services, but haven’t been able to because they don’t have a credit card. Mobile payments in the region are failing these segments.

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FENIX Pay seeks to eliminate this obstacle and enable financial freedom for anyone to pay according to their preference.

“Sustainability has been a core value of our operations. FENIX utilises pioneering sustainable solutions in its operations by implementing the use of cargo e-mopeds to complete battery replacements on the e-scooters. Our FENIX e-scooter rides to date have eliminated 75 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions that would have been generated by vehicles,” Sayed said.  “At present, all the energy goes into moving a 1,000-kilogram vehicle rather than moving the person itself. When we see this from a larger perspective, it means thousands of cars and more energy consumption.”

With FENIX’s sustainable vision to ignite impactful commerce and propel communities forward, we are reducing the negative impact on the environment in terms of space, energy and pollution.  Through F10, the first delivery service in the Middle East region to offer 10-minute fast and fresh grocery deliveries with no minimum order and free delivery, and our on-demand shared electric bikes; we have extended the role of sustainable mobility easily available for users.

“MyFENIX, the first e-scooter subscription service in the region, allows riders to pay a fixed weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly fee; and receive a personal e-scooter to use with free insurance and maintenance. MyFENIX enhances riders’ purchasing power and has been widely received by users in our operating markets with over thousands of subscriptions recorded since its launch,” he added.

Evolving mobility landscape

The mobility landscape is continu- ously evolving as commuters seek easier and cheaper means of trans- portation. In the Middle East, micro mobility is rapidly growing with var- ious government entities investing in sustainable mobility solutions to enhance transportation networks. Initiatives such as Dubai 2040 Ur- ban Master Plan, Qatar’s Nation-al Vision 2030, and Vision 2030 by Saudi Arabia have mobility as signif- icant pillars, with objectives to pro- vide sustainable and flexible means of mobility. Those are encouraging signs. Both electric and micro mo- bility are here to stay, and the poten- tial market size is huge.


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