International Waqf and Blockchain Forum 2018 seeks to align blockchain, Islamic finance

A one-day conference slated for Mar. 1 in Kuala Lumpur will discuss how blockchain can positively impact the estimated billions of dollars in Waqf assets. The International Waqf and Blockchain Forum 2018 takes place at the Bank Rakyat Twin Towers.

Also known as labour or mortmain property, Waqf, according to Wikipedia, is “an inalienable charitable endowment under Islamic law, which typically involves donating a building, plot of land or other assets for Muslim religious or charitable purposes with no intention of reclaiming the assets.”

For decades, the development and administration of Waqf assets has been a challenge in many countries. Billions of dollars’ worth of Waqf assets are available worldwide which could be used to alleviate poverty, but which are simply not being utilised to their fullest potential.

In 2010 Ernst & Young estimated the global Waqf sector to be worth more than US$105 billion. Although many of these assets are donated and managed privately, making it almost impossible to obtain an accurate total figure, it is suggested the real value of the industry could be considerably larger. Informal estimates by experts suggest that Waqf assets could be as high as SAR1 trillion (US$266.6 billion) in Saudi Arabia alone, US$82million in Egypt, and RM1 trillion (US$325.4 billion) in Malaysia.

While the total global Waqf assets could be worth over US$1 trillion, many of these assets are poorly managed, falling into disrepair, or earning little return. With the advent and growth of blockchain technology, there is renewed hope and optimism amongst administrators, industry experts and scholars alike that a solution could be found utilising blockchain technology in overcoming these challenges.

It is for this reason Finterra and International Centre for Waqf Research are jointly organizing the International Waqf and Blockchain Forum to highlight and explore the transformative potential which blockchain technology offers for the sustainable development of Waqf. With the theme of “Harnessing the power of blockchain technology for the global development of Waqf”, this forum will bring together some of the brightest minds from both the Islamic finance and technology domains including practitioners, subject matter experts, scholars, regulators, government agencies, NGOs and C-level executives from across the world.  The overall objective of International Waqf and Blockchain Forum 2018 is to establish clarity and a collective understanding of the potential of blockchain technology for supporting the facilitation and development of Waqf assets on a global scale, whilst also promoting new economic alternatives to enhance Muslim unity.

The intended outcome is to provide actionable and impactful recommendations for the benefit of all stakeholders. These recommendations will be announced as a declaration at the end of the event. Delegates will receive full access to all the conference papers following the event.

“Although there has been talks on blockchain with Islamic compliance and Islamic finance, there has never been any public discussion on the possibility of blockchain with Waqf,” Finterra CEO Hamid Rashid said. “Furthermore, with the rise in innovations and disruptions happening in the financial and technological terrain, Islamic finance, including Waqf principles, will need to manoeuvre carefully and reinvent themselves especially in terms governance and regulations to remain relevant especially since they constitute a major socio-economic institution in the today’s financial market.

“Waqf holds a treasure trove of opportunities for the improvement of the ummah and blockchain could be the answer. All in all, the implications will not only impact charities and endowment fund manage but will help manage and develop their assets in the future.”

Invitations to the forum have are already being sent out to interested parties. Members of the public may also attend the forum by registering at: www.waqfblockchain.com.

For any additional information, contact Syed Abid on +60 19-367 426 or email [email protected]