New York-headquartered Wahed Invest has received an Islamic digital investment management license to offer its services in Malaysia.
The firm said that the approval from the Securities Commission means it will be the first to offer these services in the country.
It will allow investors with as little as RM 100 ($24) access to shariah-compliant portfolios and investments.
“Islamic finance is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world, and Wahed has enabled the global Muslim community to participate in global financial markets by making investing both accessible and ethically compliant,” said Junaid Wahedna, founder and chief executive of the platform.
“As one of the most developed Islamic capital markets, Malaysia is uniquely positioned to meet the increasingly sophisticated and demanding needs of south-east Asian investors and help create opportunities in Islamic finance.”
Launched in 2017, US-based Wahed Invest expanded into the UK market in 2018 and plans to roll out its digital investment management services across Southeast Asia from its regional base in Malaysia.
Wahed’s current portfolio allocation options include investments into US and Malaysian stocks, sukuk (Islamic bonds) and gold.
In order to ensure all returns are halal, Wahed has a full-time Shariah advisory board, which undertakes a screening process and produces annual purification reports (Zakat).
As a result, Muslim and non-Muslim investors alike are now able to invest, worry-free, into portfolios that are ethically sound, the company said.
The firm is also keen to improve levels of financial education in Malaysia.
A recent survey conducted by the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency reported that one-in-three Malaysians are not comfortable with their financial knowledge, while half of the population (52%) said they face difficulties raising even MYR1,000 for emergencies.
Over half (53%) believe that wealth management is the key to achieving social mobility, but most feel their inadequate financial knowledge has hindered them from entering the sector.
Syakir Hashim, director and chief executive for Apac of Wahed, said: “Everyone has different financial goals and aspirations, but for an inexperienced or first time investor, the lack of proper financial education and opportunities, coupled with daunting and sometimes difficult to understand financial jargon is enough to deter and prevent them from investing and taking charge of their financial well being.
“We recognise Malaysia as one of our key markets and a country that is on track to becoming a leader in Islamic digital economy backed by an ecosystem that is fast-growing.
“Malaysia will be playing a key role in driving our growth in the Asia Pacific as the regional hub for our operations.”
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