A Shariah-compliant fintech start-up has launched a physical branch in Britain, targeting the country's 3.9 million Muslim population. The "halal investing platform," Wahed inaugurated its first branch on London's Baker Street today, just opposite to a branch of HSBC.
Wahed, which is backed by Saudi Aramco and has been promoted by Muslim athletes, Paul Pogba and Khabib Nurmagomedov, will also be debuting a gold-backed debit card, which will enable customers to carry out transactions held in a gold exchange traded commodity (ETC). Investors will also be able to redeem gold held in their accounts for physical bars.
In an interview with CNBC, Wahed's CEO and Co-founder, 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".
"They have trust issues," he added. "And so they want to see a physical presence before they trust you with money."
In a press release, Wahedna said, "During a period of economic uncertainty when bank branches are closing at an alarming rate, we're optimistic about the future and opening a physical branch to cater for our customers."
According to the CNBC report, the New York-based platform which was founded in 2017, remains loss-making, but has broken even in Malaysia and the US. However, the sector has seen significant growth in recent years. Islamic finance is expected to reach $4.9 trillion in value by 2025, based on Refinitiv's Islamic Finance Development Indicator.