#TractionTuesday with Techstars LA: AlgoPay

AlgoPay’s latest trip to the Middle East creates connections in the region’s major tech hub.

Founder and CEO Anna Merzi with Operations & Risk Head Bridget Payne in the West Bank.

AlgoPay is a payment solution for online businesses in cash economies, starting in the Middle East where there’s over $1.3T handled in cash. Think: Stripe, for cash economies.

Founder and CEO Anna Merzi grew up in Texas, but was always fascinated with the Middle East. In middle school she became engrossed with online refugee activism and later started learning Arabic. Once at USC, she pursued a degree in Middle East Studies and Political Science. At the same time Bridget Payne, AlgoPay’s Head of Risk, was on the other side of the world in Egypt working with leading Egyptian political groups during the latter part of the revolution.

Before AlgoPay, Anna built a platform that connected STEM-enabled refugees to freelancing opportunities — similar to UpWork’s marketplace. There she gained a firsthand understanding of how difficult it was to get money to refugees due to inaccessible banking systems and expensive transfer tools. Thus, AlgoPay was born to solve for the bigger opportunity of providing payment solutions for the unbanked.

Founder and CEO Anna Merzi with Operations & Risk Head Bridget Payne at DLD Tel Aviv conference.

The AlgoPay team recently traveled to the region to attend the DLD Tel Aviv conference, where they connected with customers, potential partners, and sourced locations for their next cash distribution agent in the West Bank. Both customers and businesses resonated with Algo deeply, even endorsing the company during a Peace through Business panel between Israeli and Palestinian business owners.

“Our customers have never shied away from telling us exactly what they need, and our latest trip to the region validated that we’ve listened well and created something that they deeply connect with — when community partners want to become customers, and customers want to join the team, it’s a pretty rewarding signal,” says Anna Merzi.

AlgoPay is currently in private beta with gig-economy platforms. They’re gearing up to announce a pilot partnership with one of the region’s major freelancing platforms. Additionally, they are launching their own local cash distribution network in two cities to facilitate instant withdrawals.

CEO and Founder Anna Merzi with Algo’s community member Islam Hmeedat.

AlgoPay is committed to providing opportunities for people across the globe. They are currently collaborating with leading community builders in Iraq like Re:Coded, The Station, and Preemptive Love Coalition. Three of the organizations that AlgoPay works with are affiliated with Techstars. Outside of their work with companies, they are also using their tech to support local coding camps so that their freelancers can get paid.

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