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It looks like 2018 is going to bring a whole new range of opportunities for Islamic finance stakeholders, as Bahrain creates the world’s first-ever Shariah-compliant FinTech consortium.

This landmark progress in the realm of Islamic finance unfolded during the World Islamic Banking Conference in Bahrain. The widely-anticipated event saw Bahrain Development Bank (BDB), Kuwait Finance House Bahrain (KFH), and Al Baraka Banking Group joining forces to launch a new FinTech consortium for Islamic finance. All goes well, eight more regional banks will join to further expand the consortium.

In December 2017, the consortium consisting of the three Bahraini banks launched a new company named ALGO Bahrain with a vision to drive research and development in the Islamic-compliant FinTech sector.

The areas where this new venture is likely to target include, Islamic finance and remittances, takaful (insurance), online trading, and investment advisory services. Furthermore, the consortium will also try to address issues, such as the overlap between ethical finance and Islamic finance.

The stakeholders in the new venture are optimistic, where the demand for cutting-edge FinTech solutions are going to increase by manifold in the Middle East. More so among millennials, who form a significant proportion of the population in the region.

Speaking of the changing landscape in the region’s financial sector, Ashar Nazim, Managing Director at ALGO, said: “Technology is completely changing the banking industry and it’s also changing customer expectations.”

The consortium has appealed banks to come with their own innovative solutions for addressing the issues affecting the growth of the Islamic FinTech sector in the region. At the same time, it is also in talks with a number of FinTech hubs for potential cooperation. Overall, the consortium hopes to launch 15 unique FinTech platforms in the next five years.