First Islamic Crypto Exchange (FICE) Set To Launch, Aims To Serve 1.8 Billion Muslims

  • ADAB Solutions, a UAE-registered financial firm, will reportedly launch the world's First Islamic Crypto Exchange (FICE).
  • FICE will be Shariah-compliant, which means its crypto exchange services will be in accordance with the teachings of the Quran (the central religious text followed by over 1.8 billion Muslims).

ADAB Solutions, a financial services firm registered in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), recently announced its plans to launch the world’s first Shariah-compliant cryptocurrency exchange. Shariah law, or Islamic law, is derived from the religious teachings of the Holy Quran, which is the central religious text followed by over 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide.

The new digital asset exchange will reportedly be called the First Islamic Crypto Exchange (FICE) and be based on the “norms of Shariah.” According to the ADAB Solutions’ official website, the projected volume of daily cryptocurrency trading on the FICE platform is $146 million.

The Islamic exchange also expects a “monthly turnover of $4.4 billion” during the first 18 months of its operations. Moreover, FICE will reportedly operate globally and its primary goal is to increase the involvement of the world’s Muslim community in the evolving cryptocurrency market.

Islamic Finance For Crypto

Notably, traditional Islamic banking is an established financial industry in most Muslim-majority countries throughout the world. ADAB Solutions’ management team now aims to introduce cryptocurrency exchange services that are also compliant with the rules of Islamic finance.

The UAE-based company’s website notes that there are currently at least 250 large digital currency exchanges worldwide, however, there are no Islamic crypto exchanges. With the launch of FICE, ADAB Solutions is hoping to attract more Muslim crypto traders and investors.

According to the firm’s website, 

“Many cryptocurrencies, due to their characteristics, are haram (forbidden in Islam). Today, no one can guarantee that the coins and projects listed on conventional cryptocurrency exchanges comply with the norms of Islam.”

ADAB Solutions

"Immoral Services", Usury, Gambling, Alcohol Not Allowed

In order to offer crypto-related services that are “halal”, or permissible in Islam, ADAB Solutions has clearly identified that it will not be involved in digital currency projects related to usury, which is the practice of issuing loans at very high interest rates.

The Islamic financial firm will also not offer “immoral services”, however, it has not specified what exactly would be considered immoral. It’s possible that the company will not support crypto projects or services that offer futures contracts or prediction market services, which allow users to bet on the future prices of cryptocurrencies or events. That’s because betting, or gambling, is strictly prohibited in Islam.

Moreover, ADAB Solutions’ crypto services will not include any businesses that deal in the “Production of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products” as this is also not allowed in Islam, even though smoking and tobacco products have become socially acceptable in most Muslim countries.

The UAE-based firm’s website further states that,

“At FICE there will be no speculative deals, margin trading or operations not corresponding to the norms of Shariah. An additional listing requirement is the approval by the Shariah Advisory Board. These restrictions are not enforced only for religious reasons, they also exclude the appearance of low-quality assets on the exchange.”

ADAB Solutions

ADAB Token

ADAB Solutions will be introducing its own cryptocurrency called ADAB token and its initial coin offering (ICO) is expected to launch in September, 2018. The ADAB token will also be “the only cryptocurrency, which can be used to pay for commission and services within the project.”

As reported by CryptoGlobe in March, an Islamic scholar named Mufti Muhammad Abu Bakr had concluded that bitcoin is not Haram, meaning that it is Sharia-compliant. According to Bakr, bitcoin “qualifies as Islamic customary money” because it had been recognized as legal tender in Germany and was widely being used as a medium of exchange in the United States and many other countries.

Bitcoin Trading at $600 Premium in India as Potential Ban Looms

Bitcoin (BTC) is currently trading at a roughly $600 premium in India, according to the market price available on the rupee-based exchange BitBns.com.

At the time of writing, bitcoin trades for just under 8 lakh rupees, or 800,000 INR, which is nearly $11,500 - significantly more than the going dollar price of $10,860.

This extreme price premium can be attributed to the difficulty of buying crypto in the country. As of last year, all regulated Indian banks and financial institutions have been banned from transacting in, and offering services related to crypto.

But the environment could soon become even more hostile.

CryptoGlobe reported in late April that a government working group made up of Indian tax, consumer protection, and general economic ministries had recommended a complete ban on even transacting or owning cryptoassets, much less integrating them into the mainstream, legal economy.

Bitcoin Demand Strong in India?

BitBns, one of the few operational rupee-denominated exchanges remaining, has apparently been able to skirt the increasingly draconian environment by allowing users to conduct their own P2P market, facilitated by the website, in order to buy and sell in Indian rupees. Other popular Indian exchanges, like Coindelta, have been forced to shut down.

The high premium may suggest a healthy demand in India for bitcoin and other cryptoassets, as Indians without international banking connections are forced to use the local currency to buy crypto. Data from crypto analytics website Coin.dance show that another popular crypto-fiat P2P platform, LocalBitcoins, has seen a sharp uptick in Indian trading volume since March-April.

indialocalbitcoins.png(source: Coin.dance)

CryptoGlobe reported last month that volumes were not affected by, and even increased in spite of, the threat of a crypto ban.

Indian Government Measures

One recent instance in particular shows just how far the Indian government seems to be going to control the Indian economy.

In late 2016, the national government suddenly and without warning even to its own ministries, declared that all 500- and 1,000-rupee banknotes currently in circulation were null and void - in an action that is known in India as “Demonetization.” These notes represented more than half of the physical money then in circulation in the country.

While the stated aims of the action were to root out corruption and “black money” from the economy, Demonetization has often been panned as a disastrous failure that cost 1% of the country’s GDP, a loss of 1.5 million jobs, and hurt the poor most of all.