REZQ-Baraka, one of several Shariah challenger banks which debuted in the UAE earlier in April, has secured US$20 million in investment which it will channel toward supporting its ambitious expansion plan. This comes as the parent of the Islamic fintech company begins applying for a regulatory license to offer fintech solutions.
Zurich Capital Funds Holding (ZCFH), the owner of REZQ-Baraka, also known as RIZQ-Baraka, revealed in a statement that its African arm has applied for regulatory licenses to offer fintech solutions with several partners in a few markets including Congo, Ghana, Nigeria and Gambia. According to REZQ-Baraka CEO Michael Fridman, the entity is awaiting “final approvals”.
Entering the African market is in line with ZCFH’s aggressive digital growth strategy designed to establish the REZQ-Baraka platform in other Gulf, Balkan and Commonwealth of Independent States markets. The recent US$20 million investment will, according to ZCFH Chairman Dr Fahad Al Merhebi, be utilized to “significantly increase the platform’s presence”. New functions and services are planned for the mobile app in the coming months. When it launched in April, the bank said it will offer, among others, Murabahah-based services, payment and remittance services, as well as a virtual debit card service.
Africa holds a particularly promising proposition for ZCFH, noted Dr Fahad, as it would be one of the first Shariah compliant digital banks in the region. As at the 13th July 2021, there are 17 entities operating in the Islamic challenger banking vertical, according to the IFN Islamic Fintech Landscape.