The would be mint for the Arab world Msrofi closes down
In july 2010 an ambitious startup was launched in Syria, Msrfoi, which aims to provide a platform for the average user to get to know his expenses on a daily bases. But around a week the startup announced its closing down.
Msrofi was meant to be like Mint for the Arab world, Mint was acquired by Intuit for $170M USD. the and was founded by Aaron Patzer where it received investments of 31 Million USD. It offered similar service but it was integrated with banks and other financial institutions often delivering automatic results to users.
Msrofi from the other hand relayed on users updating manually their expenses with no integration to bank accounts since most banks in the Arab world do not offer APIs for such transactions.
So why did Msrofi close down? The company stated in its website a number of reasons:
– Banks and financial institutions do not offer third party companies an opportunity to integrate with them.
-banking is not wide spread in the Arab world and know how about the industry, is not common.
the founders were unable to put the needed time in the project since they have other office work.
Msrofi talked with several banks to get them integrated but they stopped such effort because they had different marketing strategies.
Trust with the users has been shaken due to a post at TheNextWeb where the writer hinted that the company would share users’ data with the Syrian government.
The team behind Msrofi says the project is stopped at least for now. Meaning there is hope it will start again later on time.
The point here is that Msrofi was ahead of its time in the Arab world as most people shop using cash and do not use credit or debt card let alone that banks in the region are way behind when it comes to online financial services.
It is a sad news but there is a lesson for Arab entrepreneurs: “if you plan to copy an American success story make sure you made the right market study, figuring out if it is going to work in the Arab world, as the environment is different.”