UK to become Islamic fintech centre

Islamic financial technology (fintech) companies are aiming to disrupt traditional Islamic banks. Like conventional fintechs, Islamic fintechs face similar challenges dealing with regulatory challenges, hiring and retaining talent, raising funds from investors, acquiring customers and expanding into other regions.

At the Innovate Finance Global Summit held in London last month, Islamic fintech was key topic of discussion at a roundtable hosted by Bahrain Economic Development Board and attended by thought leaders from both Bahrain including the recently launched Fintech Bay accelerator and representatives from the UK Islamic Fintech Panel. The roundtable discussed ways to support the success and development of Islamic fintech companies in the two countries.

Photo credits: Bahrain Economic Development (Innovate Finance Conference)

Innovate Finance is an independent membership association that represents the UK’s global FinTech community. Founded in 2014 and supported by the City of London and Broadgate, Innovate Finance is a not-for-profit that advances the country’s leading position in the financial services sector by supporting the next generation of technology-led financial services innovators.

Considering the UK is second only to Malaysia with the number of Islamic fintechs according to IFN Fintech, it is no surprise that in addition to Bahrain, representatives from Abu Dhabi and Dubai fintech accelerators were exhibiting at the Summit showcasing the opportunities available at their centres for UK fintechs.

This article was first published in Islamic Finance news Volume 15 Issue 17 dated the 25th April 2018.

8 Technology Predictions for 2018

I’ve been “working” in technology since 1997 when as a student I landed a part-time job at our University of Calgary’s computer store (called Microstore, if I recall correctly). My working days were filled with Windows 95 troubleshooting, advising on software sales, and helping professors and fellow students configure their computers.

There were no smartphones, tablets, let alone drones and autonomous cars. This thing called the ‘internet’ was just starting to get serious. Fast forward twenty years later, we are at the beginning of another leap forward in technology with artificial intelligence (AI), the blockchain, and other disruptive technologies will start to see the daylight of commercial feasibility.

I’ll keep my predictions for 2018 short and sweet. A few will seem obvious and to keep things interesting, I’m throwing in a few far-fetched predictions which though unlikely are possible.

1. Data protection and consumer privacy will be big news by mid-year as GDPR goes into effect on May 25th, 2018

2. Decent augmented reality (AR) headsets will be hot Christmas gift ideas for next year. To note is the One AR headset by MagicLeap which will be released for developers next year after six years of development and $2bln in funding!

3. Initial coin offerings (ICO) will calm down as most regulators will deem them as securities. Bad news in the short-term but great news for the long-term development and funding of blockchain platforms that will be able to issue tokens or cryptocurrencies to build genuine solutions to reduce transaction costs and increase the speed of delivery.

4. Global Cybersecurity wars will get nastier. Unfortunately, the tension between North Korea and the United States is likely to escalate. North Korea knows it does not have a military advantage but has the cyber defensive advantage because of the tight state control of its network. We could see the first major cyberattack on US critical infrastructure as a warning shot by the North Koreans if they feel threatened by a military strike.

5. Fund managers will jump on board cryptocurrencies as regulation comes to force. This will hopefully shift the market from speculators to investors and support the long-term development of digital platforms and assets.

6. Move from discussion of the Blockchain to distributed ledger technology (DLT).Most don’t realise that not all distributed ledgers have to necessarily employ a chain of blocks to successfully provide secure and valid achievement of distributed consensus: a blockchain is only one type of data structure considered to be a distributed ledger.

7. Smart devices with Artificial Intelligence (AI) will start to hit the main street. These will be physical devices such robots and drones that will exploit AI to deliver advanced behaviours and interact more naturally with their surroundings and with other people.

8. Bitcoin prices will collapse to $5,000 or less but doesn’t mean they could hit $50,000 in a final euphoric manic rally. The collapse will not necessarily be the result of all cryptocurrencies falling out of favour but the marketplace realising that Litecoin or Ripple cryptos are much more effective then bitcoin for transaction purposes. (Expecting some hate mail from bitcoin fans for this prediction!)

Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!