Ex-Islamic bankers join fintech start-up Ethis; working on Islamic fintech venture builder

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GLOBAL: A Singapore-based Islamic crowdfunding start-up has courted new angel investors for its Malaysian and Indonesian businesses, allowing the firm to scale up and expand its offerings beyond crowdfunding, as it primes itself to become a Shariah compliant fintech venture builder, IFN can exclusively reveal.

Ethis Group, which began in Singapore in 2014, confirms with IFN that the start-up has welcomed three veteran Islamic banking and financial professionals to its board: Mohd Radzif Mohd Yunus, the former managing director of Malaysia’s SME Bank; Hendarin Sukarmadji, previously the commissioner of Indonesia’s Bank Jabar Banten Syariah; and Maritz Mansor who was instrumental in setting up a Shariah compliant data center private equity fund in Singapore.

“I believe Islamic finance should always have the social and developmental motive front and center in their business. The focus on ethical and Islamic as well as playing a role in financial inclusion is what attracted me to Ethis,” said Radzif, who helmed SME Bank for seven years and led its transformation into an Islamic bank. As the chairman of Ethis Ventures, Radzif’s focus is to transform Ethis’s Malaysian arm to become a tech factory, focusing specifically on Islamic fintech ideas and concepts. Radzif expects Ethis Ventures, which recently rolled out GlobalSadaqah.com, a crowdfunding platform mobilizing social finance, to function as an Islamic venture builder by September 2018.

“Through the venture builder, we are looking at doing two things: developing solutions for internal use as well as bringing new ideas and concepts to the market,” shared Umar Munshi, the co-founder of the Ethis Group. The firm is currently researching the application of blockchain and smart contracts in Islamic finance. 

The group, whose core business is crowdfunding for social housing, intends to broaden its scope to include equity peer-to-peer financing (P2P), particularly in Indonesia. Ethis Modal Indonesia is currently in the process of securing a P2P license from the regulator, with the intention of serving the retail and institutional markets especially in the area of SME financing. 

“I’ve seen banking in Indonesia change radically over the past 40 years. I believe that with Ethis Indonesia, we have a truly unique opportunity to shape the future of Islamic finance for the world’s largest Muslim population,” said Hendarin, who is also a former managing director of Bank Danamon Syariah; Hendarin and Maritz will serve as commissioners of Ethis Indonesia. 

Shariah compliant crowdfunding is one of the fastest-growing verticals in the Islamic fintech space: there are 48 Islamic crowdfunding platforms worldwide as identified in the IFN Islamic Fintech Landscape in December 2017.

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