Having noticed a missing link in the global Halal industry between payment solutions and logistics, Pat Seers had the vision of using technology to fill the gap: it did not take long for the Malaysian entrepreneur to share his vision with a team of like-minded individuals. Fast forward 18 months of conceptualizing, developing and building the infrastructure, Malaysia (and the world) is now merely months away from welcoming PayHalal, a payment gateway that adheres to Shariah principles.
Chief technology officer Selvan Ramasamy told IFN Fintech that a beta version of PayHalal is expected to hit the market in the first quarter of 2018; the firm has applied for a license from Bank Negara Malaysia and is in the process of potentially onboarding a cornerstone investor – a Malaysian government-linked company interested in acquiring a 51% stake in PayHalal. Discussions are expected to be concluded before the end of the year.
Modeled after PayPal, PayHalal is designed to process, clear and settle payments according to Sirat Al-Mustaqim, an Islamic concept of the true path, using a combination of blockchain, algorithm and artificial intelligence to reject hidden and excessive charges as well as suspicious and speculative charges. The e-payment system, certified Shariah compliant by Amanie Advisors, will incorporate a multi-level screening process: filtering Halal merchants as well as Halal items. This, according to Adam Dahlan, the Shariah and merchant lead of PayHalal, means that customers would be able to pay for Halal items using an Islamic credit card despite the item being bought from a non-Halal establishment.
“Take for example Hard Rock Café. There should not be any reason why somebody cannot purchase merchandise from Hard Rock using an Islamic credit card. But because Hard Rock serves alcohol, Islamic credit cards would not be able to recognize the transaction as it originates from a non-Halal company,” explained Adam.
Like most start-ups, the team has ambitious dreams for PayHalal, intending to eventually roll out the system across 35 countries – but it is taking it one step at a time. Indrawathi Selvarajah, a co-founder of PayHalal and its legal director, shared that the start-up will be focusing first on the Malaysian market before venturing into other key Muslim markets. It is understood that the firm has begun looking at applying for relevant regulatory licenses in other European and Asian markets.
Preparing to launch the e-payment system in a few months’ time, the team is also working on several other initiatives including an e-wallet and a chatbot to be integrated into the PayHalal ecosystem. Islamic wealth management and endowment solutions are also in the pipeline.