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.
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