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Islamic fintech Wahed Invest enters challenger bank race with Niyah acquisition

Source: Wahed Invest

Wahed Inc. (‘Wahed’), a US-based Islamic-finance fintech company, today announced it will acquire Niyah Ltd, (‘Niyah’) a UK-based fintech that is creating a banking app and ethical financial platform catered to the Muslim community.

The move signals a leap forward in Wahed’s product expansion plans and its ambition to become the leading, ‘one-stop-shop’ for Shariah-compliant financial products and services.

Niyah, launched in an alpha release earlier this year, aims to help the underserved Muslim community in the UK and beyond to manage their money with ease and invest in line with their ethical values.

Wahed’s acquisition of Niyah will honour the firm’s commitment to service the UK market by offering customers access to interest-free financial products including digital bank accounts, debit cards and investments through an user-friendly mobile app. Once the digital bank is successfully launched in the UK, Wahed plans to expand its banking reach to other parts of the world, including North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The acquisition comes hot on the heels of Wahed’s most recent investment round led by Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures (also known as Wa’ed Ventures), a venture capital investment arm of Saudi Aramco.

Launched in 2017, Wahed delivers through its affiliated entities robo-advisor investment services catering to Muslims. The firm successfully balances the Shariah and modern investment theory, ensuring that its portfolios are not invested in companies which deal in restricted sectors including gambling, firearms and alcohol.

Wahed has made significant in-roads in the world of Islamic Finance by creating an easy to use digital platform, with free portfolio recommendation and no hidden fees. Available through its website or one seamless mobile app, Wahed’s services have already attracted over 100,000 customers in the US, UK, Malaysia and beyond.

Niyah will bring another value added service to Wahed’s fast growing customer base. Commenting on the acquisition, Junaid Wahedna, CEO of Wahed said: “We are excited about welcoming Niyah to our business. Our vision of creating a parallel financial ecosystem that helps minimise wealth inequality is one step closer as clients will now be able to allow their savings to work for them without partaking in the traditional money lending infrastructure. It's a perfect fit for us and for our customers.”

He added: “Outside the Islamic world the UK has a long standing reputation as a leading fintech hub and a major centre for Islamic finance. Acquiring Niyah and launching our first banking services here enables us to leverage the opportunities that Britain’s unique financial hub brings, and to tap into a wide and underserved customer base that is receptive to our service offering.”

The Islamic finance industry is forecast to grow to $3.8 trillion in assets by 2020, according to a 2017 ICD- Reuters report. The UK alone is home to over 3 million Muslims and boasts the biggest market for Islamic finance outside of majority Muslim geographies.

Ali Abdulkadir, CEO of Niyah said: “We are delighted to have signed this deal with Wahed. The acquisition goes to the heart of the company’s vision to continue to grow an Islamic finance marketplace that is driven by the needs of the consumer and their rising demands for ethical investments. Wahed has an excellent track record for delivering services to an underserved market, and with the support of Railsbank, it can continue to expand its banking offering beyond the UK.”

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