Khalid Parekh is the founder and CEO of Fair, a free international money transfer company promoting halal banking.
Fair is headquartered in Houston, Texas, and offers up to 4% cash-backed dividends in investment pools.
In this interview, Khalid discusses Fair’s origins, how it works, and his long-term vision for the fintech industry.
Here is what he had to say:
Khalid Parekh (Full Q&A Interview)
Q: What made you want to get into fintech?
As I explained in my recent fast business magazine article, fintech makes all sorts of things possible. This allowed us, for example, to launch a neobank by membership Fair, which strives to provide solutions to underserved communities that typically pay excessive bank fees or are even completely excluded from traditional banking services.
With more than half of Americans lacking an adequate emergency fund, improved banking solutions could be a game-changer for many, and so fintech is putting more of those goals within reach.
Q: What inspired you to launch the concept of halal banking?
Fair is the first halal-certified neobank in the United States, certified by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). I was inspired by the fact that halal banking is rooted in shared capital and limits charging or earning interest. Its ethical requirements offer a solution to some of the inequities in traditional banking, such as black and Hispanic consumers paying twice the fees of their white counterparts.
Halal financial practices offer an ethical and fair alternative to traditional banking. Anyone, regardless of culture or income, will benefit from greater transparency and control over their day-to-day finances. The wealth-building opportunities that are at your fingertips on our platform also offer the promise of closing the wealth gap that continues to limit financial advancement in communities of color.
Q: What sets your approach apart?
Fair aims to practice socially responsible investing (SRI), an investment approach that reduces exposure to companies deemed to have a negative social impact. The fintech also practices ESG investing, which measures the sustainability of an investment and its overall impact in three specific categories: environmental, social and corporate governance. It also works with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and World Relief, and will donate 2.5% of profits to refugee missions around the world, as well as racial economic empowerment initiatives.
Q: Based on your successful experience raising US$20 million, what lessons can you share with other fintech startups to learn from your experiences?
The lesson I would share is that you need to observe what people want in a given market and identify an honest and innovative way to give it to them. I’ve seen traditional banks limit people’s financial freedom by charging excessive fees and interest, and consumers have accepted it because, until now, there were no better options. This was the sweet spot we identified for Fair neobank.
Q: Why is it more important than ever to focus on improving financial literacy?
Improving financial literacy is key to making informed decisions and managing money effectively. As we saw last year, life can be unpredictable. For this reason, financial security is more important than ever. This security is easier to achieve when you know how to manage your funds effectively.
Learning to avoid pitfalls like bad spending habits or accumulating large debts is the key to success. Making smart decisions will create less stress and anxiety for the future. Financial literacy gives people the tools to work toward personal and professional freedom. And that in turn gives people the ability to go from surviving to thriving.
Q: What are the best ways for fintech companies to accelerate their growth?
It all starts with a good team that shares your values and goals. It can really give you a leg up on the competition.
Q: What are you most excited about in fintech right now? And how do you foresee things going by 2030?
Artificial intelligence and robotics fascinate me a lot. These and other advanced technologies allow us to improve our products to meet customer needs.
Q: Please sum up your life in 3 words.
Blessed, Inspired, Driven.
Q: What’s next for Fair in the next 24 months?
The next two years are going to be very busy and exciting for Fair. We plan to launch several new products in the first and second quarters of 2022.
In addition, we hope to significantly expand our customer base. In the meantime, growing our team will be crucial to ensure we meet high customer expectations and continually innovate our product offering.
Q: Finally, what is one thing you want everyone to know about Khalid Parekh?
I lived the American dream, immigrated to the United States with $100 in my pocket and was blessed with great business success. It helps me a lot to understand what many Americans go through when it comes to achieving their goals and dreams, which is why I started Fair Bank.