Kestrl — Changing Banking for Good
How two Cambridge MBAs are attempting to transform the way in which Muslims interact and grow their wealth in the UK.
“Why don’t you use an Islamic Bank?”
It was a simple enough question asked by my good friend Daeng, after witnessing me pay for lunch with a Barclays debit card one day between lectures. And yet I found myself completely unable to give him a straight answer. I began mumbling something about how my parents had opened the account for me years ago and how unlike Malaysia where Daeng was from, there weren’t any decent options in the UK, when suddenly the awful truth dawned on me - I didn’t really know.
Some further digging and a Nationwide survey later (conducted as part of our summer research project), and I found I was far from alone in experiencing this. Whilst the vast majority of Muslims desired financial products that met their religious needs, over 75% used no Islamic solutions to speak of, citing a lack of awareness of what was out there, and a dissatisfaction with the few they did know about, stating they were too expensive and non-digitally friendly.
This was mind blowing to me. Whether it was opening a current account or taking out a mortgage, it was as if we’d normalised the idea across generations that it was alright to compromise on our religious values when it came to achieving financial goals. Tackling this problem is why Daeng and I decided to combine our skills in Fintech and Islamic Banking to found Kestrl.
What is Kestrl?
Kestrl is a mobile app that makes it easy for Muslims to achieve their financial goals without compromising their values.
We do this by helping you to build a monthly budget, save up for short term goals and then invest and grow your wealth for the long term. At Kestrl we wanted to simplify not only the concepts of Islamic Finance, but the more basic principles of personal finance in general which many of us have little knowledge of when we enter the working world.
At its core, budgeting is about making sure you have more money coming in than you have going out. However, beyond this it’s about figuring out the most efficient way to spend your income so you can save up as much of it as possible for your goals, whether it’s saving up for a car, a wedding or a house.
At Kestrl we do this for you automatically, connecting your bank accounts to the Kestrl app via Open Banking, we can create a personalised budget for you based on your spending and figure out how to get the most out of your income.
One of the biggest issues people face is setting realistic savings goals and sticking to them, whether it’s saving for an upcoming holiday or putting down a deposit for a house.
Using Kestrl, you can visualise your goals on an interactive timeline and track your progress towards them. You’ll also be able to transfer money into Kestrl savings pots to make sure you’re not tempted to stray from your goal.
Probably the most popular area of personal finance, but also the least understood with many people looking to invest to make a quick return. One of the most basic principles of investing is that (in most cases) real returns will only be seen over the long term (5 to 10 years or even longer), and so you should only invest for your longer-term goals.
At Kestrl, we’re creating a marketplace of all the products that match our users’ religious obligations, from halal savings accounts and portfolios, to investment into property or gold. You’ll be able to view, compare and purchase these products directly through the Kestrl app.
We’d love to welcome you onboard our mission to transform the way in which we interact with our finances, reaching our goals without compromise.
Download Kestrl today on the App Store or Google Play and find out more at https://kestrl.co.uk/
Also feel free to get in touch with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you!
Founder and CEO
*This article is part of Issue 3 of Oxford University Islamic Society’s magazine, available on 26th January 2021*