The 5th Doha Islamic Finance conference successfully concluded on 19th March 2019 at Doha Sheraton Hotel. The conference witnessed an august gathering from his excellencies, research delegations, shariah scholars, academicians, banking and technology experts from across the globe. A report
The 5th annual Islamic Finance conference organised by Bait Al Mashura Finance Consultations focused on the key aspects of Islamic Finance under the light of the global digital revolution. The topics focused on Central Banks experiences in the context of Digital world, a future vision on Digital Islamic Banks, Digital Economy and Sustainable Development, Electronic Systems in Islamic Banks and its challenges in the digital world. These discussions were through the working papers, submitted by scholars, academics and specialists participated in the conference, which included 14 researches, as well as the discussions and interventions by which the themes of the conference were enriched.
Held under patronage of His Excellency the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, diamond sponsorship of the Strategic Partner “Qatar Financial Center”, diamond sponsorship of “Barwa Bank” and “Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs”, platinum sponsorship of “Qaf Holding Group”, organization of Bait Al Mashura Finance Consultations, and in cooperation with “College of Sharia and Islamic Studies”, “College of Business and Economics” at Qatar University and “College of Islamic Studies” at Hamad Bin Khalifa University.
Speaking at the inaugural address, H.E. Mr Ali Bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Deputy Chairman of QFC said, “Digitisation has revolutionized the economy around the world. Islamic Finance is based on shariah and provides a fertile ground for innovation in this space. Therefore it is important to analyse the reality and foresee the future that he digital era has to offer.” He further added, “Islamic Finance is based on shariah principles that can rub shoulders with the current banking system, and here FinTech plays a very important role.”
Taking the thought further, H.E. Dr. Ghaith Bin Mubarak Al-Kuwari, Minister of Endowment & Islamic Affairs emphasized, “Awqaf is very important for sustainable development. He added, “Islamic Finance sets the basic requirements and hence digital banking should be based on Islamic principles. Blockchains, cloud computing, etc has revolutionised banking and other industries across the world. It has built a direct connect with the customers.”
The conference witnessed the launch of the Islamic Energy Bank under the umbrella of the Qatar Financial Center, as well as the launch of the first digital gold-backed currency in the State of Qatar “I-DINAR” by the Qatar Financial Center.
Echoing a similar chord, H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Bin Jasim Al- Thani, CMD, Barwa Bank said, “We aim to bring a complete digital transformation far more efficient than the current system. We need shariah compliant digital tools. Together we can exert efforts to build a stronger economy.”
Closing the keynote address, H.E. Dr Khalid Bin Ibrahim Al-Sulaiti, Chairman of Higher Organising Committee of DIFC thanked the Emir for his support, His Excellencies, experts, speakers, sponsors, scholars, for enriching the discussion with their thoughts. He thanked the guests and remarked, “The gathering unfolded different opportunities and impediments in the digital world.”
The conference concluded with the following visions and recommendations:
- The Islamic legislation, being comprehensive, flexible and realistic, accommodate all developments through Sharia texts or jurisprudences “ijtihadat” based on the plenary principles and rules of Islamic law.
- Although the decisions of the jurisprudential councils and the issued Sharia standards were not related to any statement on the digital banks, they included most of the basic principles on which these banks rely in concluding their contracts and their effects; therefore, they provided previous roots thereof.
- No appropriate modernization of the Islamic finance legislation and laws could keep in pace with the rapid and enormous development of financial technology. Therefore, governments, central banks, Islamic financial institutions and Sharia bodies have to strive to complete legislative and legal frameworks for the Islamic digital finance environment.
- Urge banks and Islamic financial institutions to take advantage of modern innovation technologies in the Islamic finance industry, transfer capital markets and penetrate international markets.
- Governments and institutions must play their role to protect the community members from the risks that the digital world in human development may generate by developing curricula, reviewing specializations, improving skills and abilities and making directions to take advantage of future opportunities of the digital world and combat the threat of digital unemployment and the digital divide.
- Digital Islamic banks can be established in the event that their procedures and legislations are developed according to the Shariah rules as they achieve the purposes of Islamic Shariah in money, and many of the features of the digital economy are consistent with the objectives of the Islamic economy by activating the principle of transparency and competition in the market, taking into consideration the prevention of various risks from these banks.
- Inviting researchers and specialists for further researches and studies on the digital Islamic economy, its institutions, tools and products, and seeking to establish a digital knowledge platform specialized in Islamic digital finance.
- Based on the purpose of saving money in Islamic law, financial institutions need to pay attention to good practices in cybersecurity and to adopt a proactive approach and all the means to protect electronic financial systems.
- Digital technology contributes to achieve the Economic Qatar National Vision 2030 based on the diversity and knowledge. In this regard, we pay tribute to country’s achievements in the field of digital and financial technology and the initiatives held by the Qatar Financial Center in Islamic digital finance.
the conference deliberated on how digitization and FinTech services have surfaced rapidly offering abundant opportunities. This also brings along challenges that are different from the traditional ones. The present scenario has more compliance risks than before. Additionally, the challenge is also to deal with capacity requirements and technical issues.
The speakers also discussed on regulations and highlighted the gaps between application and regulation, while pointing the challenge of dealing with increased finance charges. The conference further highlighted the opportunities and impediments of digital world if adopted according to the shariah principles. It also discussed how different countries like Kuwait, Oman, Singapore, Malaysia, Turkey, etc have come out with FinTech products. Their main aim cited was addressing issues for financial inclusion through FinTech. The conference further dwelled upon the risks posed by digital banking such as cyber threats, malware, phishing, etc. The discussion concluded with a list of visionary statements and highlighted that – The key is to think of the problems first and then bring fool proof solution was the common sentiment that echoed throughout the day.