Paving the path for a smarter future


In 1996, a Cypriot businessman, Burak Basel, ventured out on his entrepreneurial journey by developing CRM software for the tourism industry. Based on its early success, Burak replicated the core design and production services of its CRM software for other business sectors as well. This led him to work with many financial services companies worldwide, helping them develop products for home banking, payment services, and revenue management. It was then, while being in the thick of the financial sector, Burak realized that the rise of fintech solutions and services could open an array of opportunities for smart cities to advance and thrive. And,in the pursuit of this understanding, Burak established Basel Holding—an investment holding company providing high tech solutions around the world.

Elaborating on fintech’s role in smart cities, Burak—the president of Basel Holding—notes that digital payments form an integral part of any smart city vision. And with that intent to improve the payments ecosystem across various factions of a smart city, Basel Holding makes its fundings for fintech companies. Through such significant investments, Basel Holding provides financial support to its fintech subsidiaries and improves the talent pool and technological capabilities. This approach perfectly positions Basel Holding to offer cutting-edge payment solutions that cover multiple Citizen to Government (C2G) payments, including tax, toll and transit, public convenience, penalties, and more. 

Considering the critical role that venture companies play in a smart city offering, Basel Holding follows a strict vetting process to select their partners. Talking about how they identify the right partners, Burak states, “The most important aspect that we look into while partnering with a business is how efficient their management is,” as that is the linchpin of converting a good idea into a great one. In its quest to identify the right partners, the company attends various smart city events in the U.S., the Middle East, and Europe, where it curates different fintech companies. After analyzing their products and services, Basel Holding figures out how it wants to work with them in terms of investments. The company also reviews potential partners’ projections and goals for the near future. Then,based on the agreed-upon terms of investment, Basel Holding invests in the company with a lockdown period of five to seven years. To add to that, Basel Holding also implements innovative project management principles to help its partners keep up with
their deadlines and achieve optimal use of resources, thereby increasing efficiency and keeping the budget in check. At the same time, Basel Holding enhances its venture company’s R&D capabilities and educates a company on the current market trends to help them stay abreast of the contemporary citizen’s needs.

To paint a clear picture of how their services play out in smart city settings, Burak proudly recalls one of their prominent investments where, Jova Digital, a UAE-based EMV certified, end-to-end payment service provider and one of Basel Holding’s partners, had recently implemented new-generation self-service kiosks known as “Smart Tellers” in the UAE. The kiosks offer a wide range of public services such as vehicle registration renewal, fines inquiry, and payments, replacing a lost or damaged driving license. The Smart Teller also offers government services assisted by digital civil servants, allowing city authorities to utilize their human assets for municipal works more optimally. “For this project, we received positive feedback from both municipalities and citizens on social media,” mentions Burak.

Building on many such similar success stories, Basel holding is now laser-focused on investing in different parts of the world to expand its business portfolio. In this regard, the company is continuing its search for the right partners in the Middle East, U.S., and Eastern Europe. Burak underscores, “We need to put more effort into finding the right companies for the smart city initiative because,in the post-pandemic world, we will see a greater evolution of smart cities.” On that front, Basel Holding is planning to take a step back and re-analyze the market needs over the next quarter. “We will continue building our network of vendors, customers, and partners so that we can provide better services and improve the quality of life for citizens,” concludes Burak.