Wahed, the ethical investment fintech for Muslim investors, raised $25 million in venture funding with proceeds being funneled into ensuring people can invest their money into a diversified portfolio consisting of stocks, commodities, real estate and sukuk, the latter being Halal-focused asset ownership certificates.
Sharia law forbids those of Islamic faith from paying or earning interest and engaging in what could be considered as unethical investments. The world’s 1.8 billion Muslims have until recently been underserved by the financial institutions in Europe, and this is where online robo-advisors like Wahed come in.
Fintech players that do consider Sharia law ensure that customer assets will not be invested in usurious companies that deal with tobacco, alcohol, firearms, gambling or pornography, which can also align with ethical, social and governance (ESG) requirements.
Conventional finance has a problem with transparency and fairness. There are 1,407 Islamic financial institutions globally, from retail to investment banks and asset managers. The 2017 ICD-Reuters report put the Islamic finance industry at $2.2 trillion of assets in 2016 and forecast that it would grow to $3.8 trillion of assets by 2022.
The funding round led by Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures, also known as Wa’ed Ventures, a venture capital investment arm of global petroleum and natural gas company and existing investors BECO and CueBall Capital, as well as Dubai Cultiv8 and Rasameel, is notable given the Covid-19 pandemic has destabilized private capital markets and decimated the fintech investment market.
But with ethical investment and Islamic finance growing in popularity and people taking an interest in securities that are in line with Islamic ethics, ensuring that usurious companies are not funded, Saudi Aramco were wise to invest in a fintech firm that has been dubbed the world’s first Islamic finance company.
“The Muslim investor has a specific requirement that prohibits them from keeping their excess savings in bank accounts,” said Junaid Wahedna, Group CEO of Wahed. “Banks utilize deposits to lend money for interest which is proven to increase inequality and cause an unfair advantage to the wealthier borrower, whilst charging a high interest fee for lower income consumers.”
Wahed has experienced incredible demand, not only in the MENA region but globally. With Saudi Arabia’s young population that are born digitally-savvy and practicing religion, the fintech organization have high hopes for development of the company’s subsidiary in this country in line with the KSA’s Vision 2030 that looks to be the investment powerhouse and thriving economy that connects three continents.
Since launching in 2017, Wahed was recently awarded the first RoboAdvisory permit by the financial regulator, the U.K.’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA), to launch its platform in KSA.
Tapping into the rising demand for Islamic and ethical investments, a sector that merges Sharia law and modern investment theory hasn’t hurt. Wahed have created an easy to use global platform, with free portfolio recommendation and no hidden fees, available through a mobile app and accessible in the U.S., U.K., and Malaysia.
Wassim Basrawi, Managing Director at Wa’ed Ventures, made the following statement: “We believe in Wahed’s mission to provide ethical investing. The company has taken the lead in delivering investment services to one of the world’s fastest growing sectors – Islamic finance.
“Wahed is also, in the true spirit of fintech, helping to broaden the investment landscape. This latest funding round will enable Wahed to make Saudi their regional MENA hub and contribute towards a fast-growing fintech ecosystem.”
Wahed’s foray into Malaysia in 2019 bolstered their global presence, and the fintech firm now serves over 100,000 clients globally, with growth plans for the largest Muslim markets including Indonesia, Nigeria, India and the CIS.
Wahedna believes that they are paving the way for ethical investment in Islamic finance and showing the world how underserved the Muslim market is. He adds that there is no doubt that Wahed’s growth will motivate local players to launch similar offerings. “We welcome efficiency in our industry as the end customer should always win without having to pay an unnecessary cost for investing in line with their ethics.”
Phoenix Copper Ltd upped investment in its Empire Mine with drilling ongoing – Proactive Investors USA
Phoenix Copper Ltd (AIM:PXC, OTCQX:PXCLF) increased its investment in its Empire Mine as drilling continues at the site despite the gloomy wider economy.
“The outlook has deteriorated, at least in the short-term,” said chairman Marcus Edward-Jones. “Copper and sterling have both been extremely volatile, and currently sit at around 30% below their highs for the year,”
Investment in Empire increased to US$29.7mln in the six months to June, from US$18.6mln from the same period last year.
And the USA-focused exploration company added core drilling is ongoing at the copper mine.
Mineralisation was encountered at both its Red Star silver-lead deposit and its Navarre Creek gold project, with further exploratory drilling commencing at Red Star.
Net assets increased to US$38.2mln in the period from US$37.7mln, according to a statement.
However, Phoenix reported a loss of US$1mln “after charging an unrealised foreign exchange loss on sterling-denominated assets.”
Cash balance stood at US$9mln, while loans to operating subsidiaries increased to US$25.5mln from US$16.1mln, it said.
Edmontonians lost $5.6 million to cryptocurrency investment scams: Police – Edmonton Journal
Edmonton police say local investors have lost more than $5.6 million to cryptocurrency scams between fall of 2019 and the end of last year.
EPS says it investigated 112 cryptocurrency fraud reports over that time. Complaints lost $50,000 on average or less to the scam, but the highest loss exceeded $1 million, police say.
“Sadly, we encountered several complainants who lost their life savings to this scam,” says Det. Dana Gehring with the EPS Cyber Crime Investigations Unit.
“Unfortunately, once funds are invested or sent to another party using cryptocurrency, there is little we can do to retrieve them. While we always aim to apprehend those responsible, our best tool with this type of fraud is to educate on prevention.”
More than 90 per cent of the incidents referenced bitcoin, according to EPS.
More recent numbers for 2022 are not yet available.
Police say in most incidents, investors were convinced to invest in cryptocurrency via what often appeared to be legitimate websites or apps but that are actually controlled by scammers.
Scammers befriend complainants via social media, phone calls, online advertisements and online dating platforms before encouraging them to make a small investment, police say.
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Police warn that at that point, scammers would often manipulate the data on their website or app to give the appearance of growth and encouraging victims to give them more money.
Eventually, the websites or apps disappear, leaving those victims without any means of recovering their money.
EPS says it recommends anyone considering investing in cryptocurrency to confirm the website or app is legitimate, be wary of anyone unknown approaching with investment opportunities, and to verify the investor or investment company registered with FINTRAC or the Canadian Securities Administrator.
Divorce should prompt investment strategy review, say financial planners – Advisor's Edge
“People don’t always realize the true impact of a divorce on their financial circumstances until much further down the line,” said Crowe, who is also a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA). “The earlier you begin these conversations with your advisor, the earlier you can begin to understand what these changes look like, and can make any adjustments that may be required.”
Timely notice of an impending divorce is particularly important during periods of market volatility. “If we’re advised early, we can add liquidity to a portfolio and make it more conservative, so that you’re not in a situation a year later where you’re forced to sell at the wrong time in the market cycle,” Crowe explained.
Even in the midst of an economic boom, it’s hard to avoid taking a financial hit in the immediate aftermath of a divorce, said Eva Sachs, a Toronto-based fee-only divorce financial consultant who also holds a CDFA designation.
“You’re taking one household with a certain amount of income, and now you’re trying to run two households with the same money, which is really challenging,” she said.
One or both parties usually need to free up funds for real estate, either to buy their former partner out of the matrimonial home, or to purchase somewhere new to live, Sachs added.
But recent fluctuations in capital markets, combined with the downturn in the housing market, have added a fresh wrinkle to the complex process that determines the size of the equalization payment owing from the spouse whose assets grew more during the span of the marriage.
According to divorce laws, valuations for property division are tied to the date of separation, rather than the date a divorce is granted or a settlement reached. Those latter dates can often be months or years later, depending on how hotly the parties contest the matter.
“If the separation date was six months ago, that sets a certain value on the matrimonial home, but the reality today is probably quite different,” Sachs said.
The same goes for RRSPs or — taking an extreme example — investments in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ether, which have lost two-thirds of their value in the past year.
Former partners can agree to delay a sale or stay invested together until markets recover or stabilize. But “generally, that’s on a short-term basis,” Crowe said. “Even if the relationship is cordial today, it could change a week or a month from now.”
Sachs works with clients to create financial projections and forecasts based on their updated income, asset and liability levels. Longer-term, the outlook often varies depending on their age.
“If you’ve transferred a large amount out of an RRSP or a defined-benefit pension, then you have to think about how you catch up in terms of those payments. If you’re older, it’s hard because you’ve got less time to make up the difference.”
For those who deferred to a former spouse on money matters, it’s often the first time they have taken an active role in their finances, Crowe said.
“Overall, you will want to evaluate the suitability, risk, liquidity and asset allocation of the portfolio to ensure it is still aligned with your evolving goals and objectives,” she said. “Just having the conversation can be a really beneficial process for someone who is scared about their financial security after divorce. Getting into a position where you can make educated decisions about your financial future is a great confidence boost.”
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