For many, the economic inequality and low financial literacy that plague a country like South Africa are reasons to look elsewhere for fintech opportunities. But for New York-based Wahed, these same features are reason for not only optimism, but for investment and expansion.
The company, parent firm of a leading halal financial investment platform, announced this week that it has been granted a new regulatory license from the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), South Africa’s financial markets regulator. The license will enable Wahed to launch its investment app in the sub-Saharan nation, making it easier for South Africans to grow their finances in a manner consistent with their cultural preferences and values.
“We are looking forward to making an impact in South Africa,” Wahed CEO Junaid Wahedna said. “We know we can help bridge the wealth divide in South Africa through our products. We combine fintech and values to create simple, accessible, and halal products – we are honored to be trusted and to launch in South Africa.”
With more than 200,000 customers in the nine different jurisdictions around the world, Wahed brings affordable and accessible investing to populations that are often overlooked and unable to use traditional investment solutions. The company enables individuals and families to invest in stocks and sukuks (Islamic bonds) – as well as in real estate and gold. Wahed offers free portfolio recommendations and the ability to invest in multiple accounts that may represent different investment goals – from saving for higher education to buying a first home. And with low, $100 account minimums, Wahed’s portfolios offer diversification among asset classes; efficiency and low cost; and optimization using modern portfolio theory to maximize returns based on the customer’s risk profile
Founded in 2015 and going live in the U.S. and the U.K. two and three years later, respectively, Wahed launched the first ever Halal equity ETF in 2019. By 2020, the company had topped more than 100,000 customers around the world. With its arrival in South Africa, Wahed looks forward to being able to serve the more than 446 million Muslims and others on the continent who need investment opportunities that are consistent with their faith and values.
“We are delighted to provide financial products that put the customer first,” General Manager for Wahed in South Africa Rashaad Kalla said. “South Africa has a thriving fintech ecosystem, an established banking sector, and a population that is hungry to reap the benefits of a new and better way to invest.”
Wahed has raised $40 million in funding from investors including Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures, Rasameel Investment Company, Dubai Cultiv8, BECO Capital, and Cue Ball. In June, the company announced new U.K. General Manager Umer Suleman.
Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.
Central and Southern Asia
- UnionPay introduced its contactless e-wallet in Tajikistan.
- A partnership between JS Bank and NayaPay is designed to improve digital payments in Pakistan.
- India-based differentiated credit solution provider Uni launched its BNPL card Pay 1/3rd.
Latin America and the Caribbean
- Nuvemshop, a Latin American eCommerce platform also known as Tiendanube, raised $500 million in Series E funding.
- Yaydoo, a B2B software and payments firm based in Mexico City, raised $20.4 million in Series A funding.
- The Rio Times looked at the growing fintech industry in Uruguay’s Montevideo.
- Japan’s JCB International teamed up with Advanced Bank of Asia to enable payment acceptance in Cambodia.
- A partnership between the central banks of Thailand and Indonesia will support cross-border QR payments between the two SE Asian nations.
- BigPay, the fintech arm of Malaysia’s AirAsia airline, raised $100 million in funding from South Korea’s SK Group.
- African financial data infrastructure platform Pngme raised $15 million in Series A funding.
- The Africa Report looked at the role of digitization in Zimbabwe’s banking industry.
- IBS Intelligence highlighted a trio of Nigerian “fintech start-ups to watch our for” – FlutterWave, PayStack, and Piggyvest.
Central and Eastern Europe
- Leonteq announced an expansion of its cryptocurrency services to Germany and Austria.
- German digital private banking solution provider LIQID unveiled two new investment options, LIQID Private Equity and LIQID Real Estate.
- Captiq, an online financing platform for professionals, inked an agreement with banking-as-a-service platform Solarisbank.
Middle East and Northern Africa
- In strategic partnership with Bahrain FinTech Bay, the National Bank of Bahrain launched its Digital Banking Challenge targeting the country’s youth.
- Egyptian fintech Dopay scored a banking license via the Arab Banking Corporation Egypt (Bank ABC Egypt).
- Rental collection platform Ajar announced plans to expand to Bahrain.