The new Shariah-compliant halal investing platform, Wahed, opened its first branch on London’s Baker Street. Located opposite a branch of HSBC, the fintech startup is backed by Aramco, a Saudi petroleum company with an annual revenue of over $350 billion.
Hoping to target the almost 4 million Muslims in the UK, the vision is to advise British Muslims on how to invest in a way that is in accordance with the Shari’ah law.
The New York-based fintech platform, Wahed, has been promoted by Muslim athletes including the former Russian professional mixed martial artist, Khabib Nurmagomedov and world-renowned footballer, Paul Pogba.
Speaking to CNBC, the CEO of Wahed, Junaid Wahedna said, “In the United Kingdom, [the Muslim community is] actually one of the lowest socio-economic segments of the country” with “low incomes or financial literacy”.
He also went on to say that Muslims in the UK “have trust issues,” and that “they want to see a physical presence before they trust you with money”.
Innovative and Forward-Thinking
With a front-facing branch that resembles the design of an Apple Store, the interior is fully equipped with digital displays and an attractive logo display for passers-by to see.
According to CNBC, the fintech halal investing platform will also debut a unique debit card. This will allow users to deposit funds with an exchange-traded commodity that tracks the price of gold, meaning they can effectively pay for everyday goods via gold. What’s more, they will also be able to exchange their funds for physical gold bars. The reason behind this is so that all users – including Muslims and non-Muslims can hopefully combat the ever-rising cost of living.
Muslim Customers Left Behind
Whilst other fintech startups such as Monzo, Chase and Revolut have succeeded remarkably in the UK without a physical branch, Wahedna believes that this was at the cost of leaving behind Muslim consumers.
This all boils down to the fact that many Muslims in the UK do not trust banks without branches. Whilst many branches are closing down to go down the route of becoming virtual, Wahedna believes that the best way to connect with account holders is by bringing back at the human element where banks can discuss with customers on matters related to investing and finance.
In an interview with CNBC, Wahedna said, “I think it really fits with the Muslim community and what their needs are, because otherwise, what happens is the Muslim community, because they’re underserved, they keep their money in cash under their mattress, or in something that’s very unsafe, and they lose their money every few years because there’s a scam in the community or someone takes advantage of them. And that poverty cycle just continues”.