Category Archives: halal

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Islamic Business Group Calls for a Cryptocurrency for All Muslim Nations

With Iran’s cryptocurrency waiting for approval from the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) the International Business Forum (IBF) has called for a single cryptocurrency for all Muslim nations.

The concept has been kickstarted by Iran’s current move to alleviate its sanctions dilemma, attempting to combat what it sees as the dominance of the US dollar in world trade by launching its own national cryptocurrency.

The IBF, a Muslim-focused business lobby group, claims that the dollar is being used more of a sanctioning tool rather than a purposeful financial device. The Group’s chairman Erol Yarar is calling for changes to the status quo in international trade, commenting:

“In IBF this year we will discuss the term ‘monetary pluralism’ to create a fairer and healthier trade environment…We will make a cryptocurrency system, that will be used for international trade among Islamic countries, a current issue.”

This call for an Islamic cryptocurrency is only possible now that that recent discussions in the Muslim world have satisfied Islamic countries around the world that digital currency use in no way conflicts with Sharia Law. Matthew J. Martin of Blossom Finance, a fintech startup based in Indonesia clarifies the position:

“As a payment network, Bitcoin is halal. In fact, Bitcoin goes beyond what more conventional closed banking networks offer. Unlike conventional bank networks which use private ledgers where there’s no guarantee that the originator actually owns the underlying assets, Bitcoin guarantees with mathematical certainty that the originator of the transfer owns the underlying assets. Conventional banks operate using the principle of fractional reserve, which is prohibited in Islam.”

Yarar argues that an internationally recognized Islamic cryptocurrency for all Muslim countries around the globe is essential in order for the nations adopting it to “undermine and challenge America’s established hegemony in the global financial system”.

Iran has suggested that its new, as yet unnamed national cryptocurrency will bring “enlightenment” to their economy. When the currency is finally issued to banking institutions, plans for testing payments and internal and interbank transactions will be the first task for Iran’s banking sector before it goes live.

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Ripple Enters Partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Biggest Bank

US-based technology company Ripple has announced a partnership with Saudi Arabia’s largest bank, the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia (NCB).

Ripple’s network of banks and payment providers known as Ripplenet plays the predominant role in the terms of the partnership, with NCB agreeing to use the service for connecting with other financial institutions. Ripplenet claims to provide a more economical, standardized and legally streamlined method for international money transfers.

The partnership will open up NCB to companies first in Singapore, then Asia and North America – all regions that the Saudi bank previously did not have access to. The commercial bank was first established in 1953 and claims 400 branches across Saudi Arabia, with over 5.4 million customers globally.

XRP, the Ripple network’s local token, can be used by banks to source liquidity on demand in real time, with no pre-funding of nostro accounts (accounts that a bank holds in a foreign currency in another bank) required. Payment providers can also benefit from using XRP in terms of saving costs on foreign exchange rates and enjoying a faster payment settlement.

According to Ripple, XRP payments can be settled in four seconds, as opposed to the several minutes Ethereum transfers take and Bitcoin payments that sometimes require up to an hour to be approved.

Islam and crypto

Saudi Arabia’s legal system is founded on the Islamic Sharia law. As Bitcoin News reported earlier this month, the first fully Sharia-compliant cryptocurrency exchange has now launched in the UAE.

While Islam prohibits fractional reserve lending which underpins most fiat currencies, cryptocurrency is based on the logistics of scarcity. Academic discussions on the subject have suggested that cryptocurrencies may be, in fact, more Sharia-compliant than fiat.

In April, Islamic scholar Mufti Muhammad Abu Bakar published a paper detailing how the majority of the time Bitcoin is Halal (permissible), with the caveat that illicit use of the cryptocurrency or use of it in countries where it is prohibited by local laws are not Sharia-compliant.

As Muslims account for around 23% of the world’s population, they may yet become a powerful force in the market.

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