Islamic fintech start-up Algbra, which also aligns itself with ESG values, has obtained full authorization from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to operate as an electronic money institution (EMI), a crucial step toward the firm’s goal of providing Shariah compliant lifestyle banking services to Muslims in the UK.
Founded in 2020 by investment professional–lawyer duo Zeiad Idris and Fizel Nejabat, Algbra’s current product portfolio includes debit and virtual card offerings as well as a digital platform enabling users to track, and offset, the carbon footprint of their transactions. According to Algbra, it has also partnered with over 100 charities in the UK, allowing users to donate to various causes, in line with the ESG and Shariah spirit.
“The FCA is rightly regarded as the world’s leading regulator of financial services. For Algbra to have our EMI license approved with such a turnaround — in such challenging external circumstances — is a ringing endorsement of both our commitment to the highest standards of regulation and compliance, as well as our commitment to building the world’s leading values-focused and sustainable financial institution,” shared Zeiad, who is also CEO of Algbra.
With the EMI license, Algbra will now be able to design and develop a wider range of products including its business-to-business technology platform to support its ambition of providing financial products through which people can “invest, save and sustainably spend”.
Algbra is one of at least 42 start-ups providing Shariah compliant digital financial services in the UK. Despite being a non-Muslim-majority jurisdiction, the UK is often ranked as one of the top domiciles of Islamic fintech companies. As at the 9th June 2022, it is the second-largest Islamic fintech market by number of providers, after Malaysia, according to the IFN Islamic Fintech Landscape.
The UK’s thriving Islamic fintech community fills the country’s banking and finance gaps; Muslims, which constitute the second-largest religion group in the UK after Christianity, often lament the lack of financial products in line with their faith. The UK is home to four fully-fledged Islamic banks, mostly focused on the corporate sector.