Mr. Wan Abdul Rahim Kamil Wan Mohamed Ali serves as an Islamic Capital Market Consultant to Securities Commission Malaysia, and is also the Project Director for Securities Commission Malaysia and Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) [an independent centre of the Oxford University, UK]. From the year 1994 to 2006, he was the Chief Executive Officer of ABRAR Discounts Berhad. He is also a Member of Shariah Committee at RHB Bank Berhad since April 13, 2013, and is frequently invited as speaker and trainer for various seminars and programmes by the World Bank, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Securities Industries Development Corporation (SIDC), Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM) etc. He pioneered the development of the debt Islamic Capital Market in Malaysia and has innovated the development of several benchmark capital market securities through securitisation of Islamic contracts. He was awarded the “Outstanding Leadership in Islamic Finance” by London Sukuk 2011 organised by ICG Events and UK Trade and Industry Ministry and the “Most Outstanding Individual Contribution to Islamic Finance” by Kuala Lumpur Islamic Financial Forum (KLIFF) 2017. He is a professional member of the Institute of Statisticians (UK) and also holds Post Graduate Degree in Islamic Banking & Economics from International Institute of Islamic Banking & Economics, Turkish Cyprus (in association with Al Azhar University, Cairo).
In the first half of 2018, global investment in FinTech companies hit USD57.9 billion across 875 deals. The rise of FinTech has changed the way companies do business. For example, the traditional model for new businesses to turn to its local high street bank and/or a conventional investor to raise fund is no longer the only route. There are other choices now such as crowdsourcing or peer-to-peer financing. It has never been so efficient and cheaper to not only set-up your business, but also to expand it.
Crowdsourcing, for example, allows entrepreneurs with creative ideas to raise funds easily from global investors whom they have never met. Transferring money across borders is now more efficient and cheaper than was previously possible.
The above are just a couple of applications in which fintech has changed the way financial transactions are conducted. Unlike banks, FinTech operators’ lack of size allows them to innovate and adapt in a way bigger corporations will find hard to adapt.
The financial services sector has always been undergoing a rapid process of digital transformation. Its main functions today have always remained the same as in the past. What is changing is the way systems and processes are being addressed. Technology has always played a key role in the financial sector in ways that we have taken for granted. An understanding of the phases of FinTech developments for the last 40 years in Malaysia, for example, will demonstrate the process of continued innovation and evolution.
The ATMs, for example, replaced tellers and branches. In the 1980s, we saw the popular use of bank mainframe computers and more sophisticated data and record-keeping systems. Moving on to the 1990s, internet and e-commerce business models began to flourish. And today, numerous banking transactions are being done online. For stock-market transactions, stock trading began on electronic exchange trading floors. Today, we see online stock brokerage websites on banking platforms that are aimed at retail investors, replacing the phone-driven retail stock brokering model.
We are going through changes in the financial technology infrastructure, which we are taking for granted. During this period of growth, FinTech developments were also creating more sophisticated risk management, trade processing, treasury management and data analysis tools at the institutional level for banks and financial services firms.
What is striking about the last five decades of development in the technologies is that while they became mainstream and widely used by banks and their customers, the banking sector was not threatened. On the contrary, banks grew.
Fintech apps are responsible for innovation in different sectors of the financial industry. They include various financial education apps, retail banking and lending apps, peer-to-peer money transfer applications, investment apps, cryptocurrency-powered apps, etc.
FinTech services are not simple enhancements to banking services, but to a certain extent are replacing banking services such as money transfers. FinTech can be classified into two broad categories, i.e. consumer-to-consumer and institutional. Consumer-to-consumer FinTech services are quickly gaining customers and are becoming a major threat to banks.
Since FinTech is a technology to create efficiency to services, it can be a diversified range that also includes Shariah-compliant transactions. The difference in applications for the Shariah compliance needs will be on the product and transaction parameters. Other aspects of processes and security, for example, will be common.
Thus, why the need to differentiate between Islamic finance FinTech and other FinTech?
Read Full Interview in I-FIKR Digest Issue 9, December 2018.