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December 10, 2017

HBKU Roundtable on Islamic Finance, Fintech and Cryptocurrencies

The Center for Islamic Economics and Finance (CIEF), part of the College of Islamic Studies (CIS) at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), organized a roundtable to explore how Islamic finance stakeholders, regional financial institutions, and regulators are viewing developments in Fintech and cryptocurrencies, and whether these financial institutions are planning to integrate these innovations into their business models. H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Saud Al-Thani, the Governor of Qatar Central Bank, delivered the keynote address, whilst Professor Volker Nienhaus, former president of University of Marburg, Germany, and a well-known scholar of Islamic economics and finance, chaired the discussion.
The event, which was held late last week, witnessed the participation of some of the most experienced Islamic finance leaders, academics and CEOs. The sessions were based on a moderated open discussion and followed an approved agenda. HBKU students were invited to take advantage of this opportunity and meet with industry leaders, while networking for future internship and employment opportunities.

This year’s discussion addressed the recent growth and development of fintech and cryptocurrencies, and their implications on the local economy in general and on the Islamic finance industry in particular. The first part of the event focused on the local, regional, and global use of financial technology, known more commonly in the industry as fintech. This refers to a blend of innovative technology used to implement financial services, such as through online crowdfunding platforms and mobile payment systems. Participants shared their views on the potential challenges they anticipate to face in the financial institutions where they work, and on how different people and organizations view cryptocurrencies, Insurtech, and RegTech in the region.
The second segment honed in on the benefits and unintended consequences of adopting fintech. This included a two-hour discussion on using fintech to greater facilitate SME financing, how those working in markets with under-developed credit registries can utilize fintech, the robo-advisers movement within the asset management industry, and whether we will see collaboration or competition spark between traditional financial institutions and innovative fintech platforms.

The roundtable lecture series was initially launched in 2015 to act as a catalyst and as a dedicated communication channel between Islamic financial institutions and academics, with the aim of discussing perennial and new issues and products in the industry. Previous roundtables have discussed topics such as the expectations and reality of Islamic finance and the role Islamic finance plays in financing infrastructure projects.

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