LONDON - UK-based payment platform Jumah Pay, which enables Muslims to pay their zakat and sadaqah via their mobile phone, plans to roll out across the UK on April 6.
The national launch coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic across the UK and with less than a month to go before Ramadan. The fasting month this year is expected to start towards the end of April.
“We are aiming to help mosques cover their costs during the COVID-19 period,” Siddique Esmail, Jumah Pay European CEO and co-founder, told Salaam Gateway.
Jumah Pay aims to help mosques and charities with shortfalls by providing cash.
“Masjids have staff and running costs,” said Esmail. “On Jumah Pay a charity can register within 48 hours. It enables them to get the message out quicker and start receiving donations.”
The app enables users to donate to charity through the mobile phone using QR-Code technology. It also contains a built-in Gift Aid application programme interface (API).
“We created an app with GPS, E-wallet and much more which allows you [the user] to save your favourite and historical logs, said Esmail. “It helps work out your tax and works out the tax rate. If you go to Winchester or Oxford, it will tell you of the local charitable causes.”
Jumah Pay is registered as a limited company in the UK. It also has a Gift Aid agency status for all charities in the country, which stands at around 170,000. Gift Aid allows charities to claim back the basic rate tax already paid on donations by the donor.
The platform’s revenue model works by charging 5% on Gift Aid made via the app. If there is no Gift Aid then Jumah Pay does not take anything, according to Esmail.
The company is regulated by the General Data Protection Regulation and by the EU as a transnational relief- EU-charity passporting organisation.
Jumah Pay works with international clearing house National Westminster to ensure payments are verified by the banks. The user’s card details are stored by the bank and then the clearing house gets involved in the transaction. The app does not require a Merchant ID.
“Our system can work out the gift aid automatically as having wrote an API and we record some key details to ensure that you don’t have to repeat the process, such as personal information, workplace, address and post code which can be saved for future usage,” said Esmail.
He said the company is looking at developing code to gauge the feedback of charities as well provide messages and a monthly report to donors to keep them in the loop, aside from the online accounts they can view.
“The transaction is safe and secure,” said Esmail. “Our own software meets all the banks’ protocol as well as Apple’s and Google’s requirements.”
Jumah Pay is open to all charities, whether Islamic or non-Islamic, that are registered and approved by the Charity Commission UK and have a charity number.
Branding will also play an important role in Jumah Pay’s activities.
Esmail says that because Muslims associate Jumah (Friday prayer) as a key principle, the app should hit home with them.
“The traditional way of collecting charity involved old techniques and wasn’t transparent,” he said.
To uphold their Shariah credibility, JumahPay has their own in-house scholar to verify the charities and internal processes.
“A lot of Muslims are professionals and tech savvy. They understand the policy and procedures,” he said. “Masjids are now on the path of technological advancements meaning they understand and use new technologies to their advantage.”
FUNDRAISING TO GROW
Established in 2017, Jumah Pay relaunched and went fully live in March 2018 with an updated database. The company has made £4,500 in revenue so far, and has yet to break even, according to Esmail. He expects to break even by the end of July, with new members being signposted.
“We have bankrolled the project by ourselves, using savings and also keeping part-time posts [jobs],” he said. “The monthly costs are £1,200, with the major costing being the cloudservers.”
The start-up has a modest team with three people based in Southampton in the UK. The company also works with Moftak Solutions (based in USA and Pakistan) to help with coding.
To help with expansion and costs, Jumah Pay is looking to raise £100,000, according to Esmail.
He says that £50,000 will be used for salary to hire someone and the other £50,000 will be used for other costs like marketing.
“This money will be used for marketing, hiring of staff to enrol charities and further development of software,” explained Esmail. “We are looking at investment houses and potentially crowd funding, but we believe word of mouth is the best source of marketing.”
Looking to the future, Jumah Pay aims to provide its application for use in different countries on a lease basis by working with governments, telecoms, and financial institutions.
Esmail said Jumah Pay is talking to 40 Islamic institutions and organisations across different continents.
“We want to scale in the UK and then take it to Europe. From there we will concentrate on the Middle East and North Africa regions whilst also start working on the USA and Canada,” he said.
For example in South Africa, Jumah Pay will work with the National Zakat Foundation to be the exclusive smart payment mechanism. He said they aim to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU) imminently.
In addition to international aspirations, Esmail said they are also looking at different forms of payment, such as cryptocurrency.
“We may consider accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment,” he said. “[However] we are not in a position to accept it at the moment, but this is a possibility to be considered.”
(Reporting by Hassan Jivraj; Editing by Emmy Abdul Alim firstname.lastname@example.org)
*Correction: Para 3, about Jumah Pay being operational with the Muslim Council of Britain, was removed at the request of the MCB that is not, in fact, supporting Jumah Pay at an operational level.
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