– Held under the Patronage of the Central Bank of Bahrain, more than 300 participants address the embedding of EGG into Islamic Finance and the role of Fintech in driving transformation –
Islamic Finance Innovation Day (IFID) today held its fourth annual addition, under the patronage of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), gathering more than 300 finance leaders and sustainability and fintech experts to discuss “Embedding ESG into Islamic Finance – Opportunities for Innovation and Growth”.
Held at the Gulf Hotel, with the support of Lead Partner Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) and Insurance Partner Solidarity, the event featured a distinguished line up of speakers from the Islamic banking and finance sector, fintech industry as well as ESG, regulatory and legal experts, who engaged in high-level discussions on the importance of ESG as a driver for innovation and growth as well as the power of fintech to accelerate ESG adoption and help in the maximising of its benefits.
Launching the event was Blake Goud, CEO at RFI Foundation, who delivered a keynote address starting off a day of high-level engagement. Commenting, Mr. Goud said, “Islamic finance with tech-enabled ESG has to address practical considerations, where technology can make possible deeper analysis of companies’ ESG profile but not always in the same way as for other investors. RFI’s research shows how Sharia screens allow for more patient investment and engagement with companies to improve ESG practices to make companies more sustainable and less risky.”
The programme then featured two fireside chats with industry leaders. The first took place between Yaser Alsharifi, CEO, BisB, and Yasmeen Al Saffar, Director of Research & Initiatives, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce, where Mr. Alsharifi highlighted the success of BisB and its own ongoing efforts and success in embedding ESG into its cooperate culture and operations.
This was followed by a second fireside chat between Mustafa Adil, Head of Islamic Finance, Data & Analytics, London Stock Exchange Group, and Suzy Al Zeerah, Chief Operating Officer, Bahrain FinTech Bay looking at trends influencing EGG adoption in Islamic finance, issues surrounding green washing and its prevention, and the kind of ESG frameworks necessary to improve uptake across the industry and broader financial system.
The day progressed with two panel sessions, which saw engagement with audience members, on a number of topics critical to ESG adoption. Taking part on the first panel, “Going Beyond Compliance – ESG as a Driver for Innovation and Sustainable Growth”, were Yasmeen Al-Sharaf, Director – FinTech & Innovation Unit at CBB, Aruna Narayanan, Senior Advisor Sustainability and ESG at The Partnerships Advisory, Dr. Wajeeha Hussain Awadh, Chief Digital Officer at Al Baraka Group, and Kal Subramanian, Head of Markets, Director, Advisory Services – ESG, People & Change Management Services at KPMG, Bahrain.
The second panel, “The Essential Role of Fintechs in Accelerating ESG Adoption”, heard from another exciting line up of speakers including Ashar Nazim, Founder and Group CEO at Aion Digital, Armand Magharian, Director of Business Development at Finshape, Zeeba Askar, Vice President at CFA Society Bahrain and Yücel Erbilgiç, Chief Sales Officer at Commencis.
The event closed with remarks from Mohamed Kadhem Ebrahim, Chief Strategy & Sustainability Officer, BisB. Commenting on the day’s deliberations, he said, “Today’s speakers and attendees have emphasized the importance of ESG in their own personal and corporate decisions and affirmed their desire to make a positive impact in the face of arising sustainability challenges, including climate change, social justice, corporate governance, and cyber security and data privacy. At Bahrain Islamic Bank, we see ESG as a natural and core element of our commitment to Sharia principles and ethical and sustainable banking frameworks. BisB plays a critical role in financing sustainable projects and promoting social equity through Bahraini talent development, responsible banking, and by emphasizing transparent corporate governance and ethical behaviors.”
“We’re delighted to have hosted another hugely engaging and successful edition of our Islamic Finance Innovation Day,” said, Ms. Zahraa Taher, Managing Director of FinMark Communications, the event’s organizer. She added, “With the support of the Central Bank of Bahrain and our partners BisB and Solidarity, we are grateful to have brought together so many industry leaders to address the need to further accelerate the adoption of ESG into the Islamic banking and finance industry and leverage its power as a means for achieving innovation. Discussions revealed the great progress being made as well as challenges that require diligence and continued cooperation from across the industry at forums such as this and other sector-wide initiatives focusing on sustainable growth and its drivers including ESG.”
The event was also supported by First Motors.