The principal motive for the DIEDC and MIFA meeting was to discuss the development of Islamic finance in Malta. Essentially, it was to discuss the main beneficial outcomes that Malta managed to gain, the shortages to this implementation as well as what can be done to ameliorate the manner in which Islamic finance in Malta operates.
In my introduction speech, I asserted that both the previous and current governments in Malta have expressed the political will to take Islamic finance matters forward. Nonetheless, I mentioned that in Malta there is a need to analyze some stragetic points that were missed throught the exertion of this whole process in Malta’s plan of action.
Throughout the meeting, prominence was given to the fact that Malta has the ability to serve as Europe’s bridge to Arab countries and cultures and economies from North Africa. Therefore, Malta has the opportunity to be the hub of Islamic finance for Europe.
Dr Christopher Buttigieg, a director at the Malta Financial Services Authority, affirmed that the government had declared around July 2017 that it had the vision of making Malta a blockchain island. As a result, a number of companies started to operate in Malta. As a consequence, there was the need to have a regulatory framework that deals with crypto assets which in fact Malta enacted in November 2018.
In Islamic finance, there is an alignment with the blockchain space. When it comes to Islamic banking, the foundational concept is how the future of banking will more or less follow the Islamic banking model, claimed financial consultant Chris Vassallo.
Cliff Pace, from the Malta Stock Exchange Institute at the Malta Stock Exchange, spoke on the process behind the initiation for the creation of the Islamic Equity Index. Initially, there was one equity index which covered all indices and the other one was the Islamic Finance Equity Index which convered eight instruments. These eight instruments were identified as a reasonable number to start the Islamic Equity Index operating. In reality, after a year, the exchange had not received any concrete applications to have a listing on the exchange. According to Pace, this process had to be part of a strategy with other entities that would also execute a number of initiatives.
The meeting was adjourned with the plan to discuss a national framework for Malta with respect to Islamic finance.
This article was first published in Islamic Finance news Volume 16 Issue 17 dated the 1st May 2019.