Connect with us


Embracing technology and collaboration in Islamic Finance

Source: Finance Derivative

Author: Jigar Dedhia, Senior Manager, Treasury and Capital Markets, Middle East and Africa, Finastra

Islamic finance, an industry known for its distinctive fusion of ethical principles and financial services, is witnessing a significant evolution, particularly in the realm of treasury and investment products.  While traditional structures like Sukuk continue to dominate, successful innovation efforts have also focused on supporting sustainability initiatives and uplifting marginalized communities. However, the market is not without its challenges. The very principles that define Islamic finance also impose unique constraints, particularly in terms of liquidity management.

Traditional Islamic financial instruments often lack the flexibility and immediacy offered by their conventional counterparts. This limitation poses a significant challenge, especially in a rapidly evolving global financial landscape where agility and responsiveness are crucial. As Islamic finance evolves, technology holds the key to unlocking the full potential of Islamic treasury products and shaping a more robust and efficient financial ecosystem for the global economy. A focus on fostering a more integrated Islamic interbank market will be key to future success and growth.

Improving access to liquidity

While the Islamic finance market currently inhabits 80 countries and is predicted to reach $4.94 trillion in value by 2025, growth could be limited by a number of factors. Continuing double digit growth would be dependent on addressing some critical issues, including improving access to liquidity. With strict prohibitions against interest-earning (riba) instruments, Islamic banks have fewer Shariah-compliant alternatives than traditional banks to manage liquidity.

Currently available treasury products take longer to mature and trade at lower volumes, making them less attractive to investors seeking quick access to cash. With fewer participants buying and selling, banks may also find it difficult to settle a transaction quickly and at a fair price.

To ensure liquidity, Islamic banks will eventually need to move from the ‘lone wolf’ approach to an integrative collaborative environment. If a big bank in one region cannot fund their operations due to lack of liquidity in their bespoke Islamic finance structures, offering Shariah-compliant instruments to banks with surpluses can support liquidity requirements, while also balancing the ecosystem across   Islamic banking.

Seizing market opportunities in derivatives

Many Sharia scholars believe derivatives do not belong in Islamic banking as an asset. And so, the penetration of conventional derivative structures in the market remains low. Fitch Ratings reported that over 30% of Islamic banks did not use derivatives in 2022. However, most Islamic banks in the GCC, Malaysia, and Turkey use Islamic derivative hedging structures, such as profit-rate swaps, forward foreign-exchange contracts, cross-currency swaps, forward-rate agreements, and options.

The Islamic derivatives market is characterized by cautious innovation. New structures are being explored to ensure compliance with principles like risk-sharing and underlying asset ownership. One study suggests that adapting traditional forward contracts to fit the muwaada concept is a potential solution, though scholars remain divided. Additionally, Sukuk Ijarah, with embedded options or warrants have been proposed, allowing investors to back underlying assets without breaching the prohibition on interest.

Innovation, coupled with a growing middle class in Muslim-majority countries, has led some to believe that derivatives in Islamic finance are on the rise. As the market continues to mature, it is expected to attract a broader range of investors seeking ethical and risk-hedging instruments that align with Islamic values.

Collaboration is key

Collaboration also has the power to expand Islamic finance through the development of new Shariah-compliant finance instruments specifically designed for liquidity management. Cooperation across regions leads to a larger pool of capital and innovation, making it easier to create new financing structures with shorter maturities that will trade at higher volumes.

Technology, and APIs in particular, can facilitate this level of collaboration   by uniting banks needing liquidity with those holding excess funds and identifying opportunities in real time. Simultaneously, straight through processing (STP) facilitates secure and swift electronic document exchange between banks, brokers and clients.

However, Deloitte reports that most traditional banks rely on outdated technology to run the treasury, leading to redundant data reconciliations and multiple intermediaries. The need for Sharia compliance within Islamic Finance adds an additional layer of complexity in light of the same technology deficiencies.

For one thing, the disconnect between treasury workflows impacts servicing of treasury products. Pricing, for instance, requires accurate and up-to-date data. When Islamic banks are required to gather information manually — a time consuming     task — treasury departments run the risk of operating with outdated pricing structures. Conversely, automating the process results in real-time insights that lead to faster and more accurate decision making. This holds true whether the bank is servicing clients or hedging risk.

Automation to minimize risk

STP can also facilitate risk management in other ways. Achieving streamlined and more accurate workflows begins by automating verification of key details up front, such as commodity type, quantity, and pricing. With STP, compliance checks can   be built into the process to more accurately and efficiently ensure adherence with Sharia principles. However, the lack of global standardization across regulations and product structures can reduce the effectiveness of some technology implementations.

While individual banks will realize the added benefits of STP, regional differences in governance and product structures can inhibit banks’ efforts to raise capital across borders. Since STP relies on pre-defined data fields and mapping to specific regulations, regional variations can impede electronic data flow across a global financial system.   It may also utilize conditional logic to make decisions based on specific criteria, such as those that define compliance with Shariah principles.  

Variations in regulations make it more difficult to automate the process effectively in an interbank environment. While leading technology providers are adept at building workarounds, standardizing or harmonizing the rules, laws, approaches and product structures within Islamic banking is necessary to facilitate the level of digitalization necessary to compel growth across the sector.

Embracing digitalization and standardization

To fully harness the benefits of digitalization, a concerted effort towards harmonizing Islamic financial laws and standards is essential. This will not only facilitate smoother interbank transactions and cross-border capital flows but also expand the reach of Islamic finance to underserved regions, such as Africa. By embracing digitalization and standardization, the Islamic finance industry can achieve sustainable growth, better serve its ethical principles, and contribute more effectively to the global economy.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Driving business success in today’s data-driven world through data governance

Source: Finance derivative

Andrew Abraham, Global Managing Director, Data Quality, Experian

It’s a well-known fact that we are living through a period of digital transformation, where new technology is revolutionising how we live, learn, and work. However, what this has also led to is a significant increase in data. This data holds immense value, yet many businesses across all sectors struggle to manage it effectively. They often face challenges such as fragmented data silos or lack the expertise and resources to leverage their datasets to the fullest.

As a result, data governance has become an essential topic for executives and industry leaders. In a data-driven world, its importance cannot be overstated. Combine that with governments and regulatory bodies rightly stepping up oversight of the digital world to protect citizens’ private and personal data. This has resulted in businesses also having to comply e with several statutes more accurately and frequently.

We recently conducted some research to gauge businesses’ attitudes toward data governance in today’s economy. The findings are not surprising: 83% of those surveyed acknowledged that data governance should no longer be an afterthought and could give them a strategic advantage. This is especially true for gaining a competitive edge, improving service delivery, and ensuring robust compliance and security measures.

However, the research also showed that businesses face inherent obstacles, including difficulties in integration and scalability and poor data quality, when it comes to managing data effectively and responsibly throughout its lifecycle.

So, what are the three fundamental steps to ensure effective data governance?

Regularly reviewing Data Governance approaches and policies

Understanding your whole data estate, having clarity about who owns the data, and implementing rules to govern its use means being able to assess whether you can operate efficiently and identify where to drive operational improvements. To do that effectively, you need the right data governance framework. Implementing a robust data governance framework will allow businesses to ensure their data is fit for purpose, improves accuracy, and mitigates the detrimental impact of data silos.

The research also found that data governance approaches are typically reviewed annually (46%), with another 47% reviewing it more frequently. Whilst the specific timeframe differs for each business, they should review policies more frequently than annually. Interestingly, 6% of companies surveyed in our research have it under continual review.

Assembling the right team

A strong team is crucial for effective cross-departmental data governance.  

The research identified that almost three-quarters of organisations, particularly in the healthcare industry, are managing data governance in-house. Nearly half of the businesses surveyed had already established dedicated data governance teams to oversee daily operations and mitigate potential security risks.

This strategic investment highlights the proactive approach to enhancing data practices to achieve a competitive edge and improve their financial performance. The emphasis on organisational focus highlights the pivotal role of dedicated teams in upholding data integrity and compliance standards.

Choose data governance investments wisely

With AI changing how businesses are run and being seen as a critical differentiator, nearly three-quarters of our research said data governance is the cornerstone to better AI. Why? Effective data governance is essential for optimising AI capabilities, improving data quality, automated access control, metadata management, data security, and integration.

In addition, almost every business surveyed said it will invest in its data governance approaches in the next two years. This includes investing in high-quality technologies and tools and improving data literacy and skills internally.  

Regarding automation, the research showed that under half currently use automated tools or technologies for data governance; 48% are exploring options, and 15% said they have no plans.

This shows us a clear appetite for data governance investment, particularly in automated tools and new technologies. These investments also reflect a proactive stance in adapting to technological changes and ensuring robust data management practices that support innovation and sustainable growth.

Looking ahead

Ultimately, the research showed that 86% of businesses recognised the growing importance of data governance over the next five years. This indicates that effective data governance will only increase its importance in navigating digital transformation and regulatory demands.

This means businesses must address challenges like integrating governance into operations, improving data quality, ensuring scalability, and keeping pace with evolving technology to mitigate risks such as compliance failures, security breaches, and data integrity issues.

Embracing automation will also streamline data governance processes, allowing organisations to enhance compliance, strengthen security measures, and boost operational efficiency. By investing strategically in these areas, businesses can gain a competitive advantage, thrive in a data-driven landscape, and effectively manage emerging risks.

Continue Reading


The Benefits of EV Salary Sacrifice: A Guide for Employers and Employees

As the UK government continues to push for greener initiatives, electric cars have become increasingly popular. The main attraction for both employers and employees is the EV salary sacrifice scheme.

By participating in an EV salary sacrifice scheme, both employers and employees can enjoy cost savings and contribute to environmental sustainability along the way! This article will delve into the specifics of how these schemes operate, the financial advantages they offer, and the broader positive impacts on sustainability.

We will provide a comprehensive overview of the mechanics behind EV salary sacrifice schemes and discuss the various ways in which they benefit both employees and employers, ultimately supporting the transition to a greener future in the UK.

What is an EV Salary Sacrifice Scheme?

An EV salary sacrifice scheme is a flexible financial arrangement that permits employees to lease an EV through their employer. The key feature of this scheme is that the leasing cost is deducted directly from the employee’s gross salary before tax and National Insurance contributions are applied. By reducing the taxable income, employees can benefit from substantial savings on both tax and National Insurance payments. This arrangement not only makes EVs more affordable for employees but also aligns with governmental incentives to reduce carbon emissions.

For employers, implementing an EV salary sacrifice scheme can lead to cost efficiencies as well. The reduction in National Insurance contributions on the employee’s reduced gross salary can offset some of the costs associated with administering the scheme. Additionally, such programmes can enhance the overall benefits package offered by the employer, making the company more attractive to prospective and current employees.

Benefits for Employees

1. Tax and National Insurance Savings

By opting for an EV salary sacrifice scheme, employees can benefit from reduced tax and National Insurance contributions. Since the lease payments are made from the gross salary, the taxable income decreases, resulting in substantial savings.

2. Access to Premium EVs

Leading salary sacrifice car schemes often provide access to high-end electric vehicles that might be otherwise unaffordable. Employees can enjoy the latest EV models with advanced features, contributing to a more enjoyable and environmentally friendly driving experience.

3. Lower Running Costs

Electric vehicles typically have lower running costs compared to traditional petrol or diesel cars. With savings on fuel, reduced maintenance costs, and exemptions from certain charges (such as London’s Congestion Charge), employees can enjoy significant long-term financial benefits.

4. Environmental Impact

Driving an electric vehicle reduces the carbon footprint and supports the UK’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Employees can take pride in contributing to a cleaner environment.

Benefits for Employers

1. Attract and Retain Talent

Offering an EV salary sacrifice scheme can enhance an employer’s benefits package, making it more attractive to potential recruits. It also helps in retaining current employees by providing them with valuable and cost-effective benefits.

2. Cost Neutrality

For employers, EV salary sacrifice schemes are often cost-neutral. The savings on National Insurance contributions can offset the administrative costs of running the scheme, making it an economically viable option.

3. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Implementing an EV salary sacrifice scheme demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. This can improve the company’s public image and align with broader environmental goals.

4. Employee Well-being

Providing employees with a cost-effective means to drive electric vehicles can contribute to their overall well-being. With lower running costs and the convenience of driving a new EV, employees may experience reduced financial stress and increased job satisfaction.

How to Implement an EV Salary Sacrifice Scheme

1. Assess Feasibility

Evaluate whether an EV salary sacrifice scheme is feasible for your organisation. Consider the number of interested employees, potential cost savings, and administrative requirements.

2. Choose a Provider

Select a reputable provider that offers a range of electric vehicles and comprehensive support services. Ensure they can handle the administrative tasks and provide a seamless experience for both the employer and employees.

3. Communicate the Benefits

Educate your employees about the advantages of the scheme. Highlight the financial savings, environmental impact, and access to premium EV models. Provide clear guidance on how they can participate in the programme.

4. Monitor and Review

Regularly review the scheme’s performance to ensure it continues to meet the needs of your employees and the organisation. Gather feedback and make adjustments as necessary to enhance the programme’s effectiveness.


The EV salary sacrifice scheme offers a win-win situation for both employers and employees in the UK. With significant financial savings, access to premium vehicles, and a positive environmental impact, it’s an attractive option for forward-thinking organisations. By implementing such a scheme, employers can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and employee well-being, while employees can enjoy the benefits of driving an electric vehicle at a reduced cost.

Adopting an EV salary sacrifice scheme is a step towards a greener, more sustainable future for everyone.

Continue Reading


Machine Learning Interpretability for Enhanced Cyber-Threat Attribution

Source: Finance Derivative

By: Dr. Farshad Badie,  Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science and Informatics, Berlin School of Business and Innovation

This editorial explores the crucial role of machine learning (ML) in cyber-threat attribution (CTA) and emphasises the importance of interpretable models for effective attribution.

The Challenge of Cyber-Threat Attribution

Identifying the source of cyberattacks is a complex task due to the tactics employed by threat actors, including:

  • Routing attacks through proxies: Attackers hide their identities by using intermediary servers.
  • Planting false flags: Misleading information is used to divert investigators towards the wrong culprit.
  • Adapting tactics: Threat actors constantly modify their methods to evade detection.

These challenges necessitate accurate and actionable attribution for:

  • Enhanced cybersecurity defences: Understanding attacker strategies enables proactive defence mechanisms.
  • Effective incident response: Swift attribution facilitates containment, damage minimisation, and speedy recovery.
  • Establishing accountability: Identifying attackers deters malicious activities and upholds international norms.

Machine Learning to the Rescue

Traditional machine learning models have laid the foundation, but the evolving cyber threat landscape demands more sophisticated approaches. Deep learning and artificial neural networks hold promise for uncovering hidden patterns and anomalies. However, a key consideration is interpretability.

The Power of Interpretability

Effective attribution requires models that not only deliver precise results but also make them understandable to cybersecurity experts. Interpretability ensures:

  • Transparency: Attribution decisions are not shrouded in complexity but are clear and actionable.
  • Actionable intelligence: Experts can not only detect threats but also understand the “why” behind them.
  • Improved defences: Insights gained from interpretable models inform future defence strategies.

Finding the Right Balance

The ideal model balances accuracy and interpretability. A highly accurate but opaque model hinders understanding, while a readily interpretable but less accurate model provides limited value. Selecting the appropriate model depends on the specific needs of each attribution case.

Interpretability Techniques

Several techniques enhance the interpretability of ML models for cyber-threat attribution:

  • Feature Importance Analysis: Identifies the input data aspects most influential in the model’s decisions, allowing experts to prioritise investigations.
  • Local Interpretability: Explains the model’s predictions for individual instances, revealing why a specific attribution was made.
  • Rule-based Models: Provide clear guidelines for determining the source of cyber threats, promoting transparency and easy understanding.

Challenges and the Path Forward

The lack of transparency in complex ML models hinders their practical application. Explainable AI, a field dedicated to making models more transparent, holds the key to fostering trust and collaboration between human and machine learning. Researchers are continuously refining interpretability techniques, with the ultimate goal being a balance between model power and decision-making transparency.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2021 Futures Parity.