Crossing Borders with BKN301, a new Fintech for the Middle East


The editor had an interview with Mr. Stiven Muccioli, CEO and founding investor of BKN301 at Dubai Fintech Summit. BKN301 Group, through a “Banking-as-a-Service” platform and digital e-money model, enables third parties to offer financial, payment and token issuing services. The company aims to become the leading open-market and cross-border operator in the Open Banking and digital payments sector, bringing its solutions to international markets with a strong focus on fast-growing markets (Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe). The services BKN301 Group offers are easily integrated and enable a wide range of industries such as financial institutions and fintech companies, corporate entities, telcos, utilities, retailers and web3, to offer value added services for their clients. Founded by Stiven Muccioli, Federico Zambelli Hosmer and Luca Bertozzi, and operational since March 2021, has raised a total of EUR 20 million.

Introducing Stiven Muccioli:

Stiven Muccioli is the CEO and founding investor of BKN301, a leading Banking-as-a-Service firm and of the venture capital firm SM Capital. He is a serial tech entrepreneur with extensive experience working in the fintech sector. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the company’s operations, including strategic planning, product development, customer acquisition, and retention. To drive growth and progress, he coordinates and works closely with his teams to explore new avenues and accomplish the company’s objectives and goals. He further ensures that innovation is valued and fostered throughout the company’s operations in order to develop more cutting-edge solutions and products that cater to the evolving financial needs of our customers as well as position BKN301 as one of the leaders in the BaaS industry.

Can you tell us about your career journey and what inspired you to create BKN301?

I started my fintech career 12 years ago with a startup focused on online eCommerce and prepaid cards. At the time, the future of financial services was linked to eCommerce and customer-centric solutions. So, with all my understanding gathered to date, I can say that with the appropriate mix of services, you can leverage and tap into people’s financial activity. So, with the requirements of people and businesses in mind, we developed a super application that connects services such as eCommerce, peer-to-peer services, cross-border services, and others for people’s financial needs.

Our goal was to create a comprehensive solution that meets the financial needs of individuals and businesses in the Middle East and North Africa region. It has around 50 per cent of unbanked population, making it one of the regions with the highest proportion of unbanked individuals in the world.

The embedded finance industry in the MENA region is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.8 per cent to USD 39,820 million by 2029, from USD 10,359 million in 2022. This has also led to a remarkable progress in the fintech sector, which is witnessing adoption and utilisation of innovative technologies. We are working relentlessly to bridge the gaps and provide businesses in the region access to our ground-breaking payment solutions and services. As pioneers in introducing integrated financial technologies to the region, we take great pride in our accomplishments. Our unwavering commitment to continuous innovation drives us to enhance our services and provide an even better experience for our valued customers.

What brings you to the Middle Eastern region?

These two factors bring me here – one is the population demographics, and the other is the importance of being the remittance corridor for other parts of the world. The MENA region is among the biggest corridors for cross-border remittances, and there is also full mobile penetration in these regions.

What are some current challenges in this space, and what strategies do you have in place to address them?

We operate in the B2B business sector, and our main challenge is finding the right fintech partners to provide our services. These partners need to have a wide reach in their respective countries and a good understanding of the changing behaviours of their local populations.

The second challenge is the regulatory hurdles that corporations face in different countries. Our company’s objective is to build businesses that comply with regulatory norms in different nations. Currently, we are operating in San Marino, Georgia, Egypt, and Qatar, and our next focus will be on Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Central Asia, and South Asia. To address these challenges, we are continuously searching for the right partners and working closely with regulators to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.

What changes do you foresee for payment gateway applications in the future?

In the future, we expect to see new ways of lending money through payment gateways. This will pose a significant challenge to the traditional banking system in the region. Additionally, banking as a service will become more open to digital services. However, the lack of interoperability between countries will remain a challenge.

How does your organization approach the aspect of data security?

At our organization, we have a cloud platform, and we work without moving data out of the country. We collaborate with local providers to maintain the highest level of data security. We take data security very seriously and have implemented various measures to protect our clients’ data from unauthorized access, disclosure, or modification.