A fintech start-up with roots in the Middle East has secured a regulatory no objection certificate (NOC) from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan to offer Shariah compliant digital micro-financing services under a different brand name.
Cashew Financial Services, which recently launched in Saudi Arabia and the UAE with its buy-now-pay-later solution through Cashew Payments Technology, will be serving the Pakistani market through its non-banking microfinance company Muawin. While Lahore-based Muawin will offer both Islamic and conventional products, the company confirmed it will lend primarily through Shariah compliant structures.
“We have designed our retail lending products to be compliant with Islamic financing guidelines, so our customers can rest easy knowing that we take their values seriously, and will always deliver products suited to their needs,” Muawin confirmed on its website. The financing contract is based on Musawamah and will be asset-based.
The company is targeting 800,000 micro retailers nationwide as well as the 1.5 million gig economy workers which include ride-hailing drivers and freelancers.
“The time has never been better for disruption in Pakistan’s credit space, especially with such a high penetration of smartphone-enabled internet access for shop-owners and gig economy workers around the country,” said Ammar Afif, who along with Hashim Ali and Moeed Qamar founded Cashew. “We hope to help grow millions of small businesses through our platform. Our philosophy is simple: financial inclusion leads to financial empowerment.”