While online and mobile banking, neobanks, soaring rents, and oh yes, that pandemic thing have played their part in shuttering half of the UK’s high street bank branches, others see the opportunity in face-to-face engagement.
Such is the case today with Wahed’s opening of a new, 140 square meter space at 89 Baker Street in London. The New York-based financial investment company is bucking the UK trend, and angling to return the service to customer service in a physical location, offering both new and existing customers the opportunity to engage with its offerings including the opening of spend and save accounts, wills advice, investments, and private equity.
With the move, Wahed is clearly planting a flag in UK soil, not only opening a branch directly opposite an HSBC branch, situated at 88 Baker Street, the brand specifically caters to Muslims and is gearing up to service a total addressable UK market of 3.9 million individuals.
To facilitate this, Wahed is launching a new gold-backed debit card in conjunction with the branch opening that will allow customers to use Wahed as their main spend and save account, making purchases using their new Wahed card with their money held in a gold ETC. This avoids their money from staying inside the traditional banking system where it would be exposed to interest, known as Riba in the Islamic faith.
Wahed founder and CEO Junaid Wahedna commented, “During a period of economic uncertainty when bank branches are closing at an alarming rate, we’re optimistic about the future and opening a physical branch to cater to our customers. Wahed’s new gold-backed debit card allows the Muslim community to utilise technology to access and invest their money in a responsible and secure way, storing it safely and ethically without risk of exposure to Riba. Combined with the new branch, our community-focussed finance service provides Muslims with banking and investment opportunities that align with their faith.”
Since founding in 2015 Wahed has raised over $75 million in funding from high-profile backers including international footballer Paul Pogba, Brietling Chief Commercial Officer Nasr-Eddine Benaissa, alongside a number of family offices and institutions.
The organisation is out to change how the Muslim community participates in global financial markets by making investing accessible and ethically compliant for the 1.8 billion Muslims globally. For many Muslims, investing in line with their faith is made more complex due to the exclusion of companies that obtain their profits from interest, hence making Wahed’s gold-backed debit card an attractive alternative to traditional banking methods.