570easi launches French Islamic banking challenger SOeasi
The French home finance and savings solution provider 570easi has launched its own challenger bank, SOeasi, to offer what it says is the first Islamic ethics-focused neobank.
Founded in 2010, 570easi now holds a customer base of more than 90,000 which has been “waiting for a banking and payment solution to hit the market”, SOeasi’s newly appointed director and ex-Societe Generale executive Younes Elbya tells FinTech Futures.
The challenger will use 570easi’s customer base as a foundation for product ambassadors, saying it’s already “really involved” them with focus groups to tailor the new solution.
“[The new bank] will address a massively underserved community of clients, who express a strong need for reliable financial services, with an ethical and socially responsible drive,” says Elbya, who hopes the offering will appeal to customers beyond Muslim communities too.
With the aim to offer a payment card, banking, savings and wealth management services, SOeasi is still in the development phase of its challenger journey. The project began this summer, but Elbya says the research and development for it “started long ago”.
“The next steps are for us to get an alpha version in [our customer’s] hands as soon as possible, so that we can start testing and tailoring our solution,” says Elbya, who is aware 2020 – in which will be the challenger’s official launch – is fast-approaching and wants to make sure expectations are delivered.
These expectations can be traced back as far as the 2007 financial crisis, which Elbya calls “a singularly painful and destructive occasion for the world”.
“[The crisis] has provided a contemporary case study for why Muslims – as monotheistic religions and a number of socially responsible intellectuals, more generally – consider interest rates, or ‘Riba’ in Arabic, as a negative source of finance,” says Elbya.
This is because the economically-crippling affects of the crash violated the core idea of Islamic banking, which is to grow and create financial value from disciplined risk taking and real-life economic decisions.
Learning from these past financial cycles, Elbya says SOeasi’s mission is to bring everyone access to “interest-rate free, speculation free and socially responsible sources of finance”.
When asked if SOeasi is in the running to beat other challenger’s in its road to profitability, Elbya says “our hope, really, is to set realistic expectations and then beat them”.
“However socially and ethically sensitive we hope to be, we are still a company, so we have designed a business model which will allow us to grow and scale up,” he adds.
Elbya confirms that all other team leaders on the project have “a strong background” in top tier banks, asset manager or consulting firms, and, just like all of 570easi’s previous product releases, the development team are still in the process of implementing a precise roadmap.