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Innovation Starts with Experimentation; Experimentation Ends with Success

Author: Dennis Buckly

Join Nida Khan – Blockchain Expert, Advisor & Head of Research of ConexCap, Luxembourg, in the 2-day Digital Risk and Internal Control event to gain more insights on decoding the future of BFSI with new innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Blockchain, Virtual Transaction and Open API Platform

“A leader cannot lead well unless he or she understands the problems that the team will face in the changing digitalized environment at the implementation level,” says Nida Khan, Blockchain Expert, Advisor & Head of Research of ConexCap, Luxembourg. As technologies like AI, Big Data and Blockchain emerge, organisations should have leaders who are wise enough to see that these trends are more than just a concept; thus, to utilize them is what will make or break businesses in the digital landscape. “The sharing economy will become the norm and as such fintech will control and drive business strategies at all levels.”

Khan’s passion for programming started as a hobby that exists between her professional career as a strategy deviser and a consultant. As she entered the Islamic Finance (IF) Industry, she immediately took notice of the slow adoption of advanced technology. She then decided to fill this gap by increasing the awareness and education of this sector amongst the masses.

The contribution she has provided in her industry was recognized by the Cambridge IFA (Independent Finance Advisors) – UK, as she was listed one of the most powerful women in Islamic Finance. “The ranking was both a pleasure and an honor, and I attribute my contribution to Islamic fintech as the reason for it. I was never a developer but became known as such because of the technological tools I had developed for the IF industry so cannot give any advice,” she shares. She owes her success entirely to innovation and experimentation. At this age of disruption, she firmly believes that it is only by experimentation that one will reach innovation, and only by innovation, one will be able to gain a competitive advantage over others. “If one does not experiment beyond the well-known paths and if one does not innovate to solve existing problems in new ways, then we would see stagnation instead of growth.”

Having the boldness to experiment and to practice a culture of innovation is key to cultivate solutions amidst an era where problems arise daily, especially with smart technologies. Khan says that the challenges are indeed many. “The integration of smart technologies with the legacy systems; the need to make the current employees understand the importance of adopting; train the existing staff in the usage of the adopted technology; and primarily, have access to a sound implementation catering to the strategy of the organization, developed either in-house or from a reliable fintech provider,” Khan shares a few. Talent is scarce in this domain, and having developers and experts review the developed implementation in a specific smart technology is both expensive and comparatively few in number. The second stage of these challenges would begin when it would come to the customer using the adopted smart technology-driven product/service.

Another challenge that Khan thinks is noteworthy of everyone’s attention is the GDPR implementation in Europe, simultaneously affecting businesses in Asia. Organisations in Asia that access or target data of European residents need to be GDPR compliant. The failure to adhere to the compliance would result in a fine amounting to €20 million at the least. All businesses that seek to have an international presence including Europe and dealing with data in any way should ensure their organisation is in compliance with GDPR. Khan says that a very good approach would be to employ a Data Protection Officer (DPO). “A DPO is someone who would ensure compliance to ensure transparency in data collection and dissemination. The business organisations need to know what is implied by ‘personal data’ and the necessity of getting permission to use the data.”

Up to this day, Khan continues to provide low cost, instant and transparent donation solution for the masses. Being a part of the initiative by ConexCap, she was able to develop a Zakat blockchain app, both in Ethereum and Hyperledger. It doesn’t come easy, as it still faces many challenges.

However, the key has always been to continuously experiment.

“Blockchain proves to be a very useful technology,” she says. “Just like how GDPR gives the power back to the users in how their personal data is being handled, blockchain gives power to the users in terms of their transactions by ensuring transparency and traceability of payments.” The power of blockchain is not limited to these usages. However, it is not yet as decentralized as desired by masses, which makes it suffer from drawbacks like scalability issues. “If we go in favor of the ones that are scalable like Stellar, then its capability is limited compared to platforms like Ethereum,” she says. Ethereum offers both a private and a public ledger. It is working on its future release that seeks to resolve the scalability issues, Khan is hopeful to see a good outcome with the launch of Casper.

“We also dealt with blockchain-based mortgage, which comparatively is easier practically than fully traceable Zakat through the blockchain. Experimentation is going on with regards to using AI on existing data. The outcome of these developed solutions would spur us to go further into extending emerging technologies in other products/services. The opportunities are manifold, and I see a breakthrough technology in blockchain for the Islamic finance industry, that by its inherent nature satisfies the requirements of Shariah needed in financial transactions. However, we do need to wait for the scalability issues to resolve before using blockchain for a global consumer base,” Khan concludes.

Learn more about Nida Khan and her thoughts on decoding the future of BFSI in our Digital Risk and Internal Control event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the 8th and 9th of October 2018.

Should you be interested to attend the Digital Risk and Internal Control in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the 8th and 9th of October 2018, please contact Didi Jaafar at [email protected]