French Home Finance and Savings Firm 570easi to Launch Challenger Bank, SOeasi

570easi, a French home finance and savings solutions company, has introduced its own challenger bank, called SOeasi, in order to establish the world’s first Islamic ethics-focused neobank.

The challenger bank aims to leverage 570easi’s existing customer base as a foundation to help grow its business.

Established in 2010, 570easi currently has over 90,000 customers. The company says its clients have been “waiting for a banking and payment solution to hit the market.”

Younes Elbya, SOeasi’s new director and former Societe Generale executive, said the challenger will be working with 570easi’s customers as a base for its product ambassadors, noting that they’re “really involved” with focus groups to develop the new solution.

Elbya stated:

“[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.” 

He hopes the company’s new offering will attract other customers as well (not only Muslim communities).

The company aims to provide a payment card, banking, savings and wealth management services. SOeasi is currently in the development stage of its challenger journey. The initiative was launched during the summer months of this year, however, Elbya revealed that the research and development for the project began “long ago.”

Elbya added:

“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.” 

He confirmed that the company is prepared for SOeasi’s planned launch next year. He also mentioned that he wants to make sure that the firm’s customers’ expectations are met.

Elbya points out that the company’s client’s expectations can be traced back to the 2008 global financial crisis, which he refers to as “a singularly painful and destructive occasion for the world.”

He further noted:

“[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.”

This is due to the economically disastrous effects of the financial crash, which were against the core principles of Islamic banking. According to Islamic scholars, the banking system should help grow and create financial value by using proper risk-taking measures while making real-life economic decisions.

Elbya states that SOeasi aims to provide equal access to “interest-rate free, speculation free and socially responsible sources of finance.”

When questioned about whether SOeasi is planning to compete with other challengers at it works toward becoming a profitable company, Elbya said

“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.”

Elbya also mentioned that the project’s leaders have a strong professional background that includes working with top tier banks, asset managers and consulting firms.

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