An Islamic FinTech is to expand into the UK after raising £42 million.
Digital banking challenger Alif is valued at £72m by the investment, £36m of which is debt financing with the remainder as equity funding.
Alif’s products are developed with Shariah compliance in view, with adaptation of the Islamic finance principles to local regulations varying across different jurisdictions.
Founded by Abdullo Kurbanov, Zuhursho Rahmatulloev and Firdavs Mirzoev in Tajikistan in 2014, its total investment has been raised from existing shareholder Jefferson Capital Holdings Limited – a UK-based investment vehicle founded by Khofiz Shakhidi.
It will consolidate existing operations in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Russia while also supporting expansion into international markets.
“We will be opening a UK office in due course,” the founders told BusinessCloud. “Our UK expansion is being led by Firdavs Shakhidi, who is a graduate of UCL and CASS Business School and has an extensive background in asset management and FinTech, including EFG Bank, Jefferson Capital and Fortu Wealth.
“The UK is one of the world’s top global hubs for FinTech innovations, which makes it a key location for us as part of Alif’s expansion.
“Alif’s UK office will initially focus on using this expansion to grow its investor network… our UK team will work on sukuk issuance as well as future equity rounds for Alif.”
Sukuk are financial products whose terms and structures comply with sharia, with the intention of creating returns similar to those of conventional fixed-income instruments like bonds.
Alif offers a shared ownership model for its employees, with the total option package amounting to $25m, based on the new valuation. More than 100 employees have now become shareholders.
Alif now has more than 700,000 users and a team of 800 professionals. Its services include alif mobi, Tajikistan’s most widely used mobile wallet, alif salom and alif a’zo, a buy now, pay later system, and alif shop, Tajikistan’s largest online marketplace.
Khofiz Shakhidi of Jefferson Capital said: “We are proud to be backing Alif. In the space of just seven years, Alif has grown to become one of Central Asia’s leading FinTech companies.
“We believe Alif is on track to becoming one of the world’s leading Islamic FinTechs, and we are ready to commit our resources to fund Alif’s international efforts.”