Covid pandemic gives birth to new mobile app to make donations to Masjids, Madrasas contactless
A Delhi-based startup felt the need to make collection of sadaqah, zakat donation easier during the COVID pandemic. Almspay is a Mobile App that connects donors to verified institutions. Almspay intents to eliminate need for donation collection agents to tour around the country. The digital platform will also eliminate the commission model and hence make more Zakat fund available for the poor.
"Muslims in India are the second largest group comprising around 14 percent of the population of the country. A large section of Muslims society in India are in a poor financial condition. According, to the 55th round of the NSS report, nearly 35% of urban Muslims and 31% of rural Muslims live below the poverty line" says advocate turned entrepreneur Syed Asif who is the founder of almspay mobile app. He further said that it is, therefore, believed that effective management of zakat is essential not only to the community but to the country as well. An improved system of donation, collect and distribution can improve the conditions of Muslims said Mohd Owais, another co-founder, who has an experience of working with zakat collecting bodies.
Rough estimates put yearly zakat collection in India at around INR 10000 Crore. Many believe ineffective collection and distribution of Zakat is the reason that the average living standard of Muslims has not shown any significant improvement.
The most important factor for this failure is the lack of technological upgradation in zakat collection and disbursement. Till now, zakat & sadaqah have mostly been collected offline and also through some old school digital platforms.
There are three different categories of Muslim donation collectors: Firstly, Madarsa & Maktabs. A major chunk of Zakat collection goes to these Maktabs and Madarsas. Apart from the state aid, these institutions use the Zakat fund for the education of poor students. Secondly, social NGO working for the upliftment of the society. They use Zakat for social good providing education, medical and financial assistance to the poor. Thirdly, religious organisation like Masjids, dargahs, khanqahs, Imam badas etc.
This year COVID has catastrophically affected Zakat/imdad collection and distribution. Ramadan, the month of the year when most people usually calculate and donate their zakat, were witnessed during the lockdown. People who wanted to donate zakat looked online for institutions that collect zakat. On the other institution that exists only for collection and disbursement felt frustrated as they could not collect zakat. These institutions lack digital presence, digital payment systems, digital record keeping, and transparency.
"In the age of digital transformation and digital payments, there still exists a huge gap that disconnects donors from verified Zakat collecting institutions" said Umair who is the tech head of almspay
This Delhi Based venture almspay realised this gap much earlier and they launched almspay which is a digital platform where institutions can list themselves after verification to collect Zakat. Zakat donors can donate Zakat to their known or any other verified institution.
Donors can now set their charity goals, track their zakat also get online acknowledgment for their Zakat Donation. Institutions are provided with a dashboard to record and track all their Zakat collections. This improves digital payment support, digital presence, and digital record-keeping for the institutions.
In the last three months, around 5000 users have used the almspay app and website to donate zakat and sadaqah. There are around 40+ institutions that have stood the screening criterion of almspay and are now listed on almspay. Most donors are picked causes like Education, food and hunger, poor girl's marriages, and setting livelihood for economically downtrodden to donate.
The revenue model of this company is charging a monthly fee from the registered mosque, school or NGO and also small transaction fees which is normal is digital payments.
The founders believe that through almspay not only zakat collection will be more transparent and effective but at the same time its impact will also be visible. Zakat has the potential of assuring social security to many.
They are gradually expanding their branches in other cities and are regularly adding innovative features in their app. Recently, they have come out with scan and donate system for mosques to collect micro-donation done on an everyday basis.