Islamic Finance Conference Considers Future of Islamic Banking and Insurance in the Digital Area

18 Dec, 2019

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Islamic banking and insurance need to take advantage of the opportunities provided by digital technologies in order to remain relevant and contribute to socio-economic development, according to speakers at the 5th Islamic Finance Conference held in Jeddah.

The conference, held on 1 December 2019, was jointly organized by Effat University, Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), and INCEIF, the Global University of Islamic Finance, under the patronage of HRH Princess Lulwah Al Faisal, Vice-Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees and General Supervisor.

Organized under the theme ‘Islamic Banking and Insurance in the Era of Digital Transformation,’ the event was aimed to bring together local and international researchers, scholars and policymakers to present and discuss research in the field of financial technology, smart contracts and Islamic financing.

Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, Acting Director General of IRTI, and Dr. Saleh Malaika, Chairman of Alawwal Capital, delivered keynote speeches during the conference.

In his speech, Dr. Al-Suwailem spoke on IRTI’s smart initiatives that are aimed at formulating innovative knowledge solutions to address development challenges facing member countries of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). One of these initiatives is the Smart Economy Initiative, launched earlier in the year.

In the pursuit of the objectives of the initiative, the Acting Director General added, IRTI has established the Smart Economy Lab in Jakarta, Indonesia, which is expected to start operations in early 2020. The main focus of the lab is to support patentable research and creative ideas leading to startups that can contribute to the sustainable development of IsDB member countries.

Dr. Al-Suwailem expressed delight at the partnership among IRTI, Effat and INCEIF to organize the conference, which he said came at the right time when major global economies are re-examining their traditional finance system in accordance with the goal to attain sustainable economic development.

The Chairman of Alawwal Capital, Dr. Malaika, praised the initiative to hold the conference, which offered an opportunity to discuss a variety of topics, especially concerning the role of technology in expanding Islamic finance and broadening financial access to support sustainable development.

Earlier, in her opening address, Dr. Malak Alnory, Provost of Effat University, highlighted the advantages of utilizing the emerging digital transformation channels, such as blockchain and crowdfunding, and how these can help bankers and insurers to achieve multiple strategic objectives such as financial inclusion, customer-oriented financial services, and operation excellence.

The conference sessions were organized around four themes: Ethics and Regulation of Digital Banking and Insurance; Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and Tokenization; Fintech Innovation, Islamic Wealth Planning, and Waqf and Crowdfunding.

Scholars who presented papers came from various countries including Algeria, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE and USA. The papers focused mostly on generating breakthrough insights that can help reposition the Islamic financial system for the future.

At the end of the conference, the question and answer session featured a lively discussion among the audience, speakers, and moderator. Many participants were particularly interested in the role of digital transformation and blockchain technologies in Islamic banking and insurance, and how Muslim entrepreneurs, bankers, insurers and small businesses can benefit from blockchain and other financial technologies.

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