Can FinTech help Canadian Muslims with financial access?

Manzil team
Culture, compliance, and regulatory roadblocks are leaving Canadian Muslims underbanked.

Apologies for the brevity this week, I’m drafting this on a plane ride back from Traction Conference in Vancouver.

Traction! That’s a good segue. Canadian FinTech companies haven’t found much of it recently, with significant layoffs at companies like Wealthsimple, Clearco, and Coinsquare, among others.

“I represent a different community that has different needs.”
– Mohamad Sawwaf,
Manzil CEO

It doesn’t help that the bottom dropped out of Canadian FinTech funding in Q2 of this year. While global FinTech funding fell 33 percent quarter-over-quarter, in Canada, that number was more like 75 percent, and 70 percent year-over-year (per CB Insights).

But let’s not forget that other component that makes scaling a Canadian FinTech company so difficult: competition. Or the lack thereof.

This week on the podcast we have Mohamad Sawwaf, co-founder and CEO of Manzil. Manzil is working hard to provide Halal financial services to Canadian Muslims, and claims to have some 12,000 families on a waitlist for those services. That’s an incredible number and market opportunity given the almost 2 million Muslims in Canada.

The Big Five banks must be knocking down Mohamad’s door looking to partner, right? Riiiiiight.

Related: Manzil looks to expand Halal financial services platform with $2.44 million CAD, acquisition of Muslim Will

As Sawwaf explains on the podcast, Manzil has been mostly shouldering the burden of building financial access to this demographic alone, running into multiple regulatory, compliance, and cultural roadblocks – roadblocks that don’t exist in other markets like the UK, which already offer similar services.

So what’s a Canadian FinTech startup to do? And how is the current downturn impacting Manzil’s chances for scale?

Let’s dig in.

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The BetaKit Podcast is hosted by Douglas Soltys & Rob Kenedi. Edited by Kattie Laur. Sponsored by Thinksound.

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys is the Editor-in-Chief of BetaKit and founder of BetaKit Incorporated. He has worked for a few failed companies and written about many more. He spends too much time on the Internet.

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