Amid growing interest in personal finance, some new startups are working to help Muslims engage in halal investment that’s compliant with their faith.
Aghaz Investments is one of these startups working on digitally driven halal investments which marry mobile products with the faith-based values of Islam.
“My lifestyle revolves around my beliefs. When it comes to what I eat, who I marry, how I dress, religion or faith is so important for us. But for me, our finances, which are a key component of our lives — they just don’t have the solutions in accordance with our faith,” said Khurram Agha, Aghaz CEO and founder, Business Insider reported.
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Working in the US, Aghaz primarily focuses its efforts on the American Muslim population, estimated at 3.5 million, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center estimate.
Globally, where other fintech players are making their mark, the Muslim population totals around 1.8 billion, according to Pew.
Like Aghaz, fintech players that do consider Shari`ah law ensure that customer assets will not be invested in usurious companies that deal with tobacco, alcohol, firearms, gambling or pornography, which can also align with ethical, social and governance (ESG) requirements.
Wahed Invest is one of the larger, more established players in halal robo-investing.
Founded in 2017, it has an app that has been rolled out in the US and Malaysia. Wahed’s app will soon launch in the UK, Umer Suleman, head of Wahed Invest’s UK Advisory Board, told Insider.
“The world is more connected now digitally,” Suleman said.
“What you find in a young population that has high mobile penetration rates. They’re connected online, have access to more information, and they’re more digitally savvy. If we also look at those people who are also looking at ethics and investment, it really widens the opportunity,” he added.
Reflecting on the growing importance of values-based investing, Suleman said that Wahed looks at the possibility of screening in positive investments instead of just cutting out negative ones.
“As people become more ESG conscious, they will like these types of investments, they’re looking for these types of investments. And they can find them through Wahed and other platforms, to some extent, as well now,” he added.
There is no doubt that Islamic finance has grown substantially in recent decades across the world, becoming one of the fastest growing financial industries.
Today, it has global assets exceeding $2 trillion and expected to reach $3.8 trillion by 2023.
Sharia-compliant finance differs from conventional banking in key ways, the most notable being a prohibition on charging interest and investing in ethically compliant companies.
Islamic banks and finance institutions cannot receive or provide funds for anything involving alcohol, gambling, pornography, tobacco, weapons or pork.