Uzbek 'buy now, pay later' Islamic finance start-up raises $1 million funding

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TASHKENT, Feb 22 (Reuters) - IMAN, an Uzbek company providing 'buy now, pay later' services compliant with Islamic finance rules, has raised over $1 million from a group of venture capital investors, aiming to grow in Central Asia's most populous nation.

The former Soviet republic's underdeveloped fintech market has attracted the attention of foreign players such as Georgia's largest banking group TBC Bank, which has set up a digital bank in the country of 35 million.

IMAN's founders say they want to capitalise on the strong preference for halal products among Uzbekistan's predominantly Muslim population, and then replicate the business model in other countries such as Pakistan.

"Our concept is building a halal Klarna," IMAN founder and chief financial officer Mark Zubov said, referring to a Swedish fintech firm.

Investors in the seed round included Battery Road Digital Holdings, MyAsiaVC, Le Mercier's Capital, Block0 and Vector Crypto Capital, IMAN said.

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Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; additional reporting by Olzhas Auyezov in Almaty; editing by Jason Neely

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