Malaysia’s HelloGold is one of a handful invited by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Task Force on Digital Financing on the Sustainable Goals, through the Digital Finance for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Challenge, to present at its inaugural invite-only summit running on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, a validation of Islamic fintech at an international level as a vehicle for impact and sustainable development.
One of two Malaysian start-ups, along with several start-ups in India, to be invited after a rigorous selection process, to present on tech efforts in addressing long-standing development challenges, HelloGold is understood to be the only one with a Shariah compliant fintech proposition. The Challenge was organised by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) FinLab. The judging panel included representatives from UNCDF, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, Bank Negara Malaysia and Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre.
The ‘Good Servant, Poor Master: Capturing the Promise and Managing the Risk of Financial Technology for a Sustainable World’ forum, taking place on the 27th September at UN headquarters, will gather 200 head of states, finance ministers, central bank governors, and leaders from development organizations and the technology sector, to put forward an actionable set of recommendations for ways that the digital revolution could be harnessed to advanced the UN SDGs.
“It is indeed a huge honor to be selected – we are immensely proud and humbled. This is an opportunity for us to showcase what we are trying to do with HelloGold to an audience of policymakers, that potentially could help us to get into emerging markets and see value in what we are trying to achieve,” HelloGold CEO Robin Lee shared with IFN Fintech.
Since its launch in 2017, HelloGold has onboarded over 138,000 users in Malaysia and Thailand (with plans to expand to Indonesia and Dubai onto its Shariah compliant gold savings platform, which allows users to purchase gold for as low as 25 US cents. From its customer base, 70% are first-time investors in gold – demonstrating the start-up’s ability in creating new demand for the popular asset class – and more significantly, relevant to the SDGs, US$675,000-worth of transactions were conducted by women, out of which 81% belong to the low to moderate income bracket. This directly correlates to two of the 17 SDGs: the first goal of no poverty and 10th which is reduced inequalities.
This invitation is a testament to Islamic fintech as an effective medium for financial inclusion and positive impact, as well as is a testament to the quality of Malaysian start-ups at an international level. HelloGold in 2018 was also recognized by the World Economic Forum ASEAN for its work in financial inclusion.