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Cryptocurrency Tide and Islamic Finance Development: Any Issue?

Disruptive Innovation in Business and Finance in the Digital World

ISBN: 978-1-78973-382-2, eISBN: 978-1-78973-381-5

Publication date: 21 October 2019


Cryptocurrencies are hidden monies that are specifically created to be used as digital currencies while assuming the characteristics of real money. Barring the divergent opinions on whether permitted in Islamic law (that is/are halal) or forbidden in Islamic law (that is/are haram), and for which the swing tends to be in favor of its blockchain underlying technology permissibility in Islam, cryptocurrencies are undoubtedly indicating potential for relevance in the global trade, investment, and other contract settlements in some years to come. The potential of the blockchain technology is phenomenal with recent estimates suggesting it will be worth more than $20 trillion in just two years, which is more than the entire American economy. Since fortunes are made by those entrepreneurs and indeed savvy investors who have discerned its future potential earlier on, there exists some great temptation for people to jump on the blockchain bandwagon. Apparently the growing acceptability of digital fiat money as a result of technology development on one hand, and the failure of the paper money to mitigate inflation and other economic disequilibria since the disappearance of the gold standard on the other, various forms of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoins (referred to as the king) appear to roar toward wider recognition. However, an emerging phenomenon associated with cryptocurrency revolution is an observed significant fluctuation (the tide) in its value and thus a subject of discussion within Islamic finance community and beyond. In the midst of this also is the current agitation founded on some of the Islamic law (Sharīʿa) view on the necessity of asset-backed money, to be extended to the current cryptocurrency innovation for its transformation into a Sharīʿa compliant precious metal backed currency. The big question now which this chapter sought to provide the answer is, what are the implications of these developments to a more established and widening global phenomenon of Islamic finance and its development in Muslim world vis-á-vis aspirations for sustained economic development. The work finds that cryptocurrencies would generate three advantages over all forms of money including gold through: establishing a unified financial system through its standard decentralization, being rarer than gold and its significant mitigation of inflation. It is also noted that the prevalent foreign exchange risk resulting from the underlying activities (rather than the currency itself) is free from speculation (Gharar). It is, therefore, recommended that stakeholders in the Islamic Finance world should not be passive but be proactive in commencing processes to develop technical notes, standards, and operational guidelines to partake in the inevitable migration to cryptocurrencies.



Abubakar, M., Hassan, M.K. and Haruna, M.A. (2019), "Cryptocurrency Tide and Islamic Finance Development: Any Issue?", Choi, J.J. and Ozkan, B. (Ed.) Disruptive Innovation in Business and Finance in the Digital World (International Finance Review, Vol. 20), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 189-200.



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