Pursuing its ambition of engineering an Islamic meta economy, IBF Net Group has set up a center of excellence (CoE) in Jakarta to undertake research and development, building on an enhanced mandate for its training arm, Algotrain Academy.
IBF Net, whose flagship project is to develop and host blockchain platforms and use cases as well as build a miniature Islamic economy, has been setting the groundwork for the CoE – implementing formal agreements of cooperation with local and foreign universities and knowledge organizations including IPB University in Bogor, Indonesia Blockchain Association, Fintech Association of Indonesia, Syarif Hidayatullah Universiti Negeri Islam in Jakarta, Manipal GlobalNxt University in Malaysia and Tashkent State University of Economics while organizing joint knowledge events.
These institutional partnerships will facilitate the CoE in supporting research at graduate and postgraduate levels. The research to be undertaken will primarily focus on Algorand blockchain technology and its applications for addressing development challenges in agriculture, healthcare, education, energy, environment, women and youth empowerment, among others. The CoE will be wholly owned by a Jakarta-based non-profit foundation known as Syabakah Amal Islami (Islamic Business Network) established by the group.
Why an Islamic metaverse?
Metaverse sounds like a futuristic complex term, and one which has gained significant interest in recent years with the likes of Facebook and Microsoft making their moves to have skin in the game. Coined in 1992 by author Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel, Snow Crash, metaverse is understood as hyper-real alternative worlds, a network of online 3D virtual worlds underpinned by social connections. It involves virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, mixed reality, 3D holographic avatars and videos among other technologies to create this hyper-real world.
“However, a partial but systematic analysis of views of some observers and influencers in the Islamic media space reveals that most of them rule out any virtual replication of acts of worship or Ibadah in the Islamic metaverse, but see potential in Muamalat or economic transactions,” explained Mohammed Alim, CEO of IBF Net Group. “Indeed, in the context of Muamalat or economic transactions, the idea of an Islamic meta economy is pregnant with enormous possibilities. The CoE is expected to explore in-depth all such possibilities.”
According to IBF Net Group, an Islamic meta economy should theoretically admit all possible transfers of value between the physical and the digital world as it happens in a metaverse. Care must be taken however, not to violate the fundamental prohibitions of Riba (profits from money/debt), Gharar (uncertain payoffs under inadequate/ inaccurate information) and other forms of unjust enrichment.
“Indeed, such an economy at times can even perform better in terms of addressing the Shariah norms. A case in point is a Halal leisure tourism app or a Halal e-commerce app where VR technology enables the buyer to better assess the value contained in the holiday package or object of purchase, and thus, reduce the level of Gharar or uncertainty. How one defines the bounds of Shariah and configures the meta economy, should therefore, be an interesting line of enquiry,” highlighted Dr Mohammed Obaidullah, the founder of IBF Net Group.