Amanah DeFi (amanahdefi.com) was started as a project in October of 2020 and from December is being incubated by Blockon Capital (blockon.biz), a Malaysian-based, global blockchain incubator. The goal of this novel venture is to create a DeFi solution which will also comply with Shariah way of thinking and be based within Islamic Finance. At the same time, the founders of Amanah DeFi would like their product to offer unique financial solutions to all of the world’s communities. We had a chance to sit down with the founders of Amanah DeFi, Mufti Billal Omarjee (Co-Founder and Chief Islamic Compliance Officer) and Ilya Dobrovitsky (Co-Founder and CEO) and talk about the unique features and ways of thinking behind this project.
Please introduce yourselves:
MBO: My name is Billal Omarjee, and I am the director of Shariah Consultant LTD. We provide Shariah solutions on business and charity issues. Currently I am part of the Shariah board of Amanah DeFi, and my role along the other board members is to ensure that the products Amanah DeFi will deliver, are all in accordance with Shariah principles.
ID: My name is Ilya Dobrovitsky and I am a Co-Founder and CEO of Amanah DeFi. I am a business development professional and a growth hacker with deep experience of working and developing startups. I was previously a co-founder of several other projects and startups. I have also worked as a business development professional with already developed high-tech companies in other sectors such as: SaaS, LiDAR, Robotics, AI, etc.
What drew you to the concept of creating a Shariah-compliant DeFi?
MBO: First of all, the traditional Islamic finance industry has been criticised for mimicking the conventional one. Whether this is entirely true or not, it is for the experts to debate this claim.
However, many of them have explained that, since this industry is new, there was no other option but, to follow the conventional system in order to be competitive. Furthermore, the Islamic finance sector had to adjust and operate in accordance with existing financial regulations that were originally made for its conventional counterpart.
On the other hand, DeFi is a new movement, and the fastest growing sector in crypto. This is the moment for the Islamic finance industry to prevent itself from facing the same challenges faced, when it was created in the last century. It is for this reason, I want to be part of this new revolution.
ID: For me the biggest draw was to explore a divergent financial philosophy and to try to bring it, within the context of the very promising DeFi sector, to the general public for their use and benefit. I felt that Islamic Finance, with its way of thinking, offers an incredibly attractive product which can improve the lives of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities around the world, and put into the package of a DeFi platform, can also empower these communities.
What are some of the challenges you face in the creation of this platform?
MBO: At the start, my understanding of the crypto world was extremely limited, and I had no prior knowledge of DeFi either. My background is in Islamic theology, so in order for me to even certify or create a shariah financial product, I have to first study and understand the current products that are available in the interest based DeFi ecosystem. For that reason, I had to spend a lot of time reading materials on the subject, and spending hours listening to blockchain, and crypto experts explaining certain things to me.
ID: I think the challenge is also the exciting part for us. This being, that the conventional financial thought is so incredibly pervasive in this world and established. How does one in essence start with a divergent way of thinking and make it a standard? This is not a complicated question, and the potential answer can yield an incredibly fulfilling journey of deep disruption within the status quo.
What do you think the greatest benefit will be to the Muslim community from this product?
MBO: The fact that the Amanah services, will be accessible to the wider Muslim community. Muslims from all around the globe, will be able to invest in Shariah-compliant manners. In 2020, in Western countries, Muslims have none to limited Islamic financial instruments available to them. This will change when Amanah DeFi is launched.
ID: I think the benefit for the Muslim community is the ability to take control over their financial situation in a purely positive way. I think the whole point of the DeFi evolution is that it makes money readily available to the public. If one can understand how DeFi works, one can in essence create wealth for themselves through the DeFi ecosystem. What we are doing is opening the door of this possibility to the Muslim community.
What do you feel can be the greatest accomplishment of this project?
MBO: When the Amanah DeFi will be able to help in alleviating poverty around the world, by facilitating Shariah-compliant microfinance on its platform.
ID: The greatest accomplishment of Amanah DeFi can be to create a divergent financial standard relevant to all the cultures and societies around the world.