Quick Fire Q&A with the Financial Times

25 April 2021

Quick Fire Q&A

What’s your name?

algbra — inspired by the algebra of Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi.

When were you founded?

During the pandemic, in May 2020.

Where are you based?

HQ is in London with operations also in Kuala Lumpur.

Who are your founders?

Zeiad Idris, previously co-founder of an FCA regulated merchant bank, and Fizel Nejabat, an ex-Magic Circle lawyer.

What do you sell, and who do you sell it to?

algbra provides financial products to suit the needs of values-based and socially-conscious consumers, especially those who are currently excluded.

How did you get started?

Covid-19's disproportionate impact on minorities urgently highlighted the existing racialised wealth and social gaps and accelerated our start plans.

How much money have you raised so far?

£3.75m of seed funding to date.

What’s your most recent valuation?

£25m post-money.

Who are your major shareholders?

SFC Capital, British Business Investments and New World Capital Advisors.

There are lots of fintechs out there — what makes you so special?

Tier 1 team with deep expertise and lived experience; technology and global network to address financial exclusion on industrial scale.

Fintech Fascination

Wise transfers from IPO to direct listing: After months of speculation about a potential initial public offering, Wise — the fintech formerly known as Transferwise — is now planning a direct listing on the UK market, allowing it to go public without raising any new cash. The news will be welcome for UK authorities whose efforts to attract more tech listings suffered a setback with Deliveroo’s recent high-profile IPO flop.

UK plans digital currency: Rishi Sunak kicked off the UK’s fintech week on Monday by announcing a series of moves to “push the boundaries of digital finance”. Among other things, the chancellor said the UK would follow countries such as China and India in considering the creation of a central bank digital currency.

Is Ant’s battle with Beijing over?: There are signs that Jack Ma’s internet empire is close to reaching a truce with the Chinese government after months of conflict, but the price is likely to be high for Ma’s fintech ambitions. While ecommerce group Alibaba was served with a $2.8bn fine, analysts believe its fintech sister company Ant Group could have to raise as much as $30.6bn in capital to comply with all its new regulations.

Sin Bin — Wirecard and Greensill fallout: The Bundestag inquiry into the collapse of Wirecard has provided plenty of drama for any Germans rueing the closure of the country’s theatres in the past few months. The performance will reach its climax later this week as MP’s interrogate Germany’s two most powerful politicians — Angela Merkel and Olaf Scholz. Ahead of the finale, read this Big Read by Guy Chazan and Olaf Storbeck. 

The Wirecard inquiry exposed a series of failures among German regulators and politicians, but at least there are signs some people have learned from the affair: the FT separately reported this week that deputy finance minister Jörg Kukies, who was criticised for cosying up to disgraced Wirecard boss Markus Braun, resisted a series of advances from former UK prime minister David Cameron, who lobbied on behalf of Greensill Capital last year. The swift collapse of Greensill, which less than two months ago was being heralded as a UK fintech success story, means drama-seekers in the UK will soon have several of their own inquiries to look forward to.

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