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Banking Tech Awards
4th December 2024
Royal Lancaster Hotel

Banking Tech Awards 2022 Finalist: Nomo

Nomo has been selected as a finalist in the FinTech of the Future – Start-up Bank/ Banking Service category in the Banking Tech Awards 2022.


Nomo is the world’s first fully digital international Islamic bank, launched by the Boubyan Bank Group through its subsidiary, Bank of London and The Middle East. The bank launched in July 2021 and was developed amid the pandemic by teams working fully remotely, to provide customers in the GCC, and the broader Middle East, access to UK / overseas banking products and services. This makes international banking and investments more easily accessible and convenient for affluent clients, whilst also offering FSCS protection, with customers’ deposits fully covered up to the value of £85,000. Built in just nine months, Nomo is a truly unique, ‘banking without borders’ proposition. 

The world's first digital international Islamic bank

Traditionally, accessing a UK or overseas bank account using a GCC branch of a UK bank or via an international bank, can be a slow, expensive and sometimes difficult process. 

Nomo provides a digital remedy to this problem. Establishing a UK bank account with Nomo can be done entirely on the Nomo app and takes less than ten minutes. This means customers in Kuwait, and shortly in other countries in the GCC, can quickly move money to the UK.

This facility is useful for transactions such as sending money to children studying abroad or to keep their money safe and conveniently accessible, for overseas payments, borrowing and investments. 

Nomo currently offers a current account and a savings account but is planning to expand into other areas so that GCC clients can easily invest, or apply for Property Finance, using just one app. Nomo can also be used with Apple Pay. 

Dates of the overall project: July 2021 – June 2022 The UK’s financial sector has a world-leading reputation for good governance and advanced regulation and is attractive to customers in the GCC. However, GCC residents can face lengthy approvals processes when trying to access banking services in the UK, even when dealing with UK branches of GCC banks. In addition, they sometimes have to deal with GCC-based branches of global banks, many of which are, understandably, not wholly Sharia’a compliant. Nomo was created to provide Sharia’a compliant digital banking to GCC residents, whereby clients would be able to access UK financial products and services without hassle. Nomo is an invented word that is inspired by the Arabic term "” نمو) N’mo), which relates to the bank's promise that customers will grow with us. Nomo represents growth in every aspect: financial and personal. Nomo was created to: 

  • Make international banking and investments more easily accessible and convenient for affluent clients (initially in Kuwait, then in the GCC and Middle East and later everywhere)
  • Re-imagine the experience of borderless banking – affording GCC and broader Middle Eastern customers quick and hasslefree access to a UK bank account, governed by Sharia’a principles, and delivering an intuitive and seamless digital interface
  • Help clients with overseas investments, through a state-of-the-art Sharia’a digital platform and infrastructure including savings, property finance and investment products. 

The unique points of the project. What makes it different?

Nomo is the world’s first fully digital international Islamic bank. Our cloud first technology allows customers to set up an account safely and securely, on their phone, in a matter of minutes and to access easy-to-use, UK-based, products and services. In the GCC, while international banking has long been easily accessible to the super rich who use private banking, affluent and mass affluent customers have traditionally had to go through a lengthy onboarding process. Part of the reasoning for this lies in a user experience which is not tailored to GCC clients. Nomo is a UK digital bank, customised for GCC clients. This presented a challenge for the Nomo team - how to onboard a non-UK resident (either local, national or expat) using digital products that were not set up to serve the GCC customers in line with UK regulation - all online, without human touch. The Nomo team addressed this by using modern technical integration points between products that didn't support them. This meant working closely with vendors to change their propositions to support Sharia’a compliant banking principles.

In solving the challenge, Nomo was therefore able to provide a user experience which follows GCC practices –in the UK when applying for a card, applicants need to provide an address for delivery which includes a street and a postcode, and many larger global banks follow this process. However, in the GCC, addresses are by building and area, which can be prohibitive. So, the Nomo team created a process which would suit GCC clients, but still fit UK regulation. While the UX is distinctly GCC focussed, Nomo customers also have all the protections and safeguards of UK regulated institutions. Nomo customers’ deposits are fully covered up to the value of £85,000 by the UK’s FSCS. In addition, it is also governed by BLME’s Sharia’a board. This is crucial for assuring clients in the GCC that the products and services they are accessing are not haram – a term which means forbidden by Islamic law. The products available via Nomo therefore have a strong ethical grounding and are likely to attract non-Muslim clients, as people begin to look more closely at ESG commitments. 

As well as being an innovative proposition for GCC customers, the way in which the bank is set up, and operates is also innovative. Built during the pandemic, the whole team was 100% remote. Nomo therefore brought together talents from all over the world and was one of the first banks to be built completely remotely, taking just nine months from ideation to completion. This ability to build and launch products quickly has continued throughout the bank’s first year, with a digital international property finance product built and launched within four months. This team has expanded rapidly, and there are now over 150 employees, based in over 26 countries. The development and launch of Nomo, and the subsequent rapid development of new products, is a true testament to what can be achieved through remote working. This ability to work together, whilst working remotely, relies heavily on building a strong brand and workplace culture, with a clear focus on employee well-being. Nomo provides several initiatives for staff – aimed at creating a sense of ‘One Nomo’, which brings together the technology and banking sides of the business. 

This includes guidance and workshops on healthy living, mental health initiatives, team bonding experiences and regular opportunities for learning and development. Nomo is focussed on doing things differently. The agility of the team also means that developments which might have taken incumbent banks months or even years to achieve, have been completed much more quickly. Nomo launched Apple Pay within months of taking on customers – in a region where certain countries and areas didn’t have access to contactless payments. The innovative nature and/or the importance of the project. 

We truly believe that where Nomo has led, others will follow. Borderless banking looks set to become more commonplace, allowing people and businesses to access products in different countries around the world, making international transactions quicker and easier, and allowing people to choose a bank which best complies with their ethical principles. Project management; team size and mix; collaboration. 

From ideation and planning to the initial launch, the whole team remained 100% remote, working during the pandemic, with talents from over 26 countries. It has adopted an agile methodology, meaning that it was able to quickly adapt and change 3 of 3 course in response to evolving customer needs. 

To ensure Nomo’s compliance with UK banking regulation, and to put their start-up mentality into practice, the team collaborate closely with BLME colleagues across legal, compliance, and treasury. Nomo also works closely with parent company Boubyan Bank. 

This has included partnering on their go-to-market strategy, on-ground sales, and marketing outreach through Boubyan’s established networks. Results and performance metrics. So far, 30,000 customers have begun the Nomo onboarding process. 

Nomo is continuing to invest and create scale, with plans for a number of additional products over the coming years. The bank was built in 9 months, and its new digital property finance product has been built and launched in just four months. Financial and business impact; return on investment (if applicable).