Ambassador to Malaysia & Technical Standards Committee Member Bitcoin Association Honorary Treasurer Grand Council Chartered Institute of Islamic Finance Professionals (CIIF)
WHAT ARE YOUR NEW ROLES IN BITCOIN ASSOCIATION?
Bitcoin Association is professionalising the Bitcoin industry. I am supporting Bitcoin SV (Satoshi Vision) because it is a project adhering to the Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto’s original protocol, design, and vision for Bitcoin to become a peer-to-peer electronic cash system and global data ledger for the enterprise. I bring together merchants, application developers, service providers, enterprises, miners, and others in the Bitcoin SV ecosystem to advance the growth of Bitcoin commerce as the Ambassador. As a Technical Standards Committee member of the Bitcoin Association, I am acting to contribute to the development of standards for Bitcoin SV blockchain. Technology history has repeatedly demonstrated the value of seeking consensus on technical standards to fuel industry growth through compatibility and interoperability between different businesses. My role in the Technical Standards Committee is to ensure that Bitcoin SV grows to support a world where all business and online activity can be onchain, like how the Internet grew with standards set to support a world where everything can be online.
YOU HAVE RECENTLY BEEN AWARDED THE GIFA SPECIAL AWARD 2020 IN THE CATEGORY OF ISLAMIC BLOCKCHAIN LEADERSHIP AND GLOBAL TOP 50 LEADERSHIP AWARD ISLAMICA 500 SELECTED BY THE WORLD ISLAMIC ECONOMIC FORUM. HOW HAS THESE AWARDS SHAPED YOUR ASPIRATIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN?
Although Islamic finance is expanding by promising economic growth of Islamic economy, blockchain is required to make disruptive innovation for Islamic finance. I am willing to take a role as a bridge between Islamic bankers and blockchain companies such as nChain based in London since I have roles in the Chartered Institute of Islamic Finance Professionals (CIIF) and the Bitcoin Association. I would like to contribute to the development of Islamic blockchain. Hence, I am always pleased to share my view and knowledge on Islamic blockchain in international Islamic finance and blockchain conferences as a speaker. In addition, I am doing Ph.D research in Islamic Blockchain. My Ph.D research title is “Exploring the significant impact of bitcoin Satoshi Vision Blockchain adoption on Islamic Bank Shariah Audit Reporting Disclosure”.
HOW DO YOU THINK BLOCKCHAIN CAN BE APPLIED TO ISLAMIC BANKING AND FINANCE TO FURTHER ITS DEVELOPMENT, ESPECIALLY IN THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES?
I believe blockchain can lead to innovative disruption in the Islamic finance business. I am sharing a common agenda in the Islamic finance industry, namely trading fees for commodity Murabahah transactions. Many banks and customers would like to decrease the trading fee of Commodity Murabahah transactions because it is an additional cost compared to conventional finance. Commodity exchange could introduce a commodity token on Bitcoin SV blockchain, which is a digital certificate of the commodity on the blockchain. Thereafter, the Islamic finance industry could further reduce administrative cost such as the trading fee for Commodity Murabahah with the application of onchain Swap by which Islamic banks and customers could exchange Central Bank Digital Currency and commodity token at the same time on the blockchain without counterparty risk and complicated operation because we need not rely on the trusted third party on blockchain in the future.Let me share one more point in terms of Shari’a compliance. Blockchain will help Commodity Murabahah transactions to comply with Shari’a more efficiently. An example with Islamic banks, they cannot sell a commodity before owning it to comply with Shari’a. Therefore, they need to organise and record the sequence of the commodity transaction which currently is a very manual process. If we use blockchain, we can enjoy the timestamp function. It is very helpful for the Shari’a review process as well because distributed ledger under blockchain is immutable and traceable. Blockchain can be very suitable and efficient for Islamic finance. Nevertheless, there are some imminent challenges in the application of such technologies in Islamic finance that are still in the evolutionary stage. Islamic finance industry could make an effort for innovation with collaboration between the Islamic finance industry and the blockchain industry.
Islamic finance inspired me because Islamic finance is in the same line with ESG finance as Shari’a (Islamic law) has a great ethical value, which is very similar to the Japanese traditional discipline.
COULD YOU SHARE ONE OF YOUR GREAT ACHIEVEMENTS?
Sukuk has a high demand from the Japanese institutional investors as measures to improve investment performance as interest rate in Japan is quite low. Sukuk is an Islamic financial certificate without an interest element, which is prohibited in Islam. Previously, Sukuk investment was quite difficult for Japanese institutional investors due to unclear tax treatment. As the structure in which investors received a coupon as investment dividends instead of interest, it was unclear how to treat the profit under Japanese laws and tax. There were no clear guidelines issued by public authorities. I chose Wakalah Sukuk, which is the most preferable and the highest demand structure from many types of Sukuk in the market and submitted an inquiry to the Japanese regulator as a test case investment by the Japanese Bank. After having a series of discussions with the legal firms, tax firms and relevant authorities, I managed to obtained clarification of tax treatment for Sukuk investment by Japanese investors under the Japanese law. By leveraging my experience and knowledge of this test deal, the distribution of MYR Sukuk for Japanese institutional investors in Japan has been implemented by a Sukuk issuer and Islamic banks in Malaysia.
WHAT FACTORS (PERSONAL, FAMILY, EDUCATION, MENTORS, ETC.) HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR SUCCESS?
My family supports me a lot in pursuing my professional career and academic qualifications. I have been blessed with opportunities because fortunately, I have the respected network of Islamic finance and blockchain.
WHAT DRIVES YOU IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE?
To be a part of the innovation to make the world a better place through Bitcoin SV blockchain and Islamic finance.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST REWARDING IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
Great opportunities to see respected business and academic professionals who have fantastic passions and impressive new ideas.
AFTER SPENDING ALMOST A DECADE IN THIS FIELD, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR A SUCCESSFUL CAREER IN ISLAMIC FINANCE: QUALIFICATION OR EXPERIENCE?
It is a good question. When I look back on my career, I always pursued both experience and qualification concurrently. It brings positive synergies because these efforts gave me great opportunities to find fresh encounter in career and academic in terms of network and opportunities.