Will Artificial Intelligence Rejuvenate Islamic Finance?

Rosie Kmeid,

Vice President, Global Corporate Communications & Marketing at Path Solutions


There are a number of industries that have already witnessed the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI). But if AI has impacted one industry more than any other, it is the financial services industry. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the financial services sector is leading others in adopting AI.

The history of AI goes back to the 1950s when John McCarthy, an American computer scientist pioneer and inventor, coined the term in his 1955 proposal for the 1956 Dartmouth conference, the first conference on artificial intelligence. The objective was to explore ways to make a machine that could reason and act like a human. This was only the inception of AI as a concept but it was not implemented until the late 1990s. Over the years, AI enhanced its role and scope to include natural language processing, image recognition, deep learning, speech recognition, and emotions. However, the pace of AI only picked up seriously after 2011 when tech giants showed signs of great interest, adoption, and heavy investments in R&D.

The AI revolution is not only revolutionized the world of finance, but it has also taken it by storm. Faced with unprecedented challenges, financial institutions have started racing to embrace AI to gain a competitive advantage. The new born awareness of AI to power change, growth, and innovation points to more opportunities for financial institutions to boost performance.

Although the application of AI in the financial services sector is its nascent stages, the astonishing speed of change in behavior patterns among customers is forcing financial institutions to be agile and to rethink the way services are delivered in order to meet the diverse and evolving needs of their customers, taking them to the next phase of the sector’s evolution.


Disruptive AI Reshaping Global Finance

For financial institutions, the adoption of AI is not an option anymore; customers’ needs are changing rapidly and traditional banking methods will not suffice anymore, especially with millennials. The need to embrace new technologies is imminent to compete in a data-driven, highly digitalized, and device-using world.

By replacing older statistical-modeling approaches with AI and cognitive computing technology, financial institutions would see costs cut dramatically, along with improved operational efficiency and enhanced overall profitability. AI can solve and even anticipate complex financial problems. The suite of tools available in AI, such as machine learning, deep neural networks, and natural language processing, can bring a whole new experience to the world of finance.

Despite this strong IT need, it has been noticed that some conventional financial institutions are still in the early stages of AI adoption. Although regulations and limitations in budget or resources are placing restrictions on the adoption of AI, it continues to expand and grows smarter and more effective, combining human insight with automation and analytics. This presents a double-edged risk to traditional banking, thereby becoming a stumbling block to progress.

Once AI-based systems surpass human performance, they are much likelier to spread quickly. The fear of falling way behind in the technology race will pressure these financial institutions to adopt AI-based technologies at any cost. Reaching this threshold opens up vast new possibilities for transforming businesses.


AI and Islamic Finance

As customers become more sophisticated and knowledgeable, AI becomes extremely critical to Islamic finance. Like other aspects in life, the smart use of AI is a game-changer for the industry.

When it comes to technology, what applies to conventional finance also applies to Islamic finance. As estimated by Gartner, customers of financial institutions will conduct 85% of their financial transactions with no human interaction by 2020. With changing customer needs and a growing generation of millennials, a bigger challenge for Islamic financial institutions is the fierce competition of conventional banks offering financial services that are both attractive and popular among millennials.

Today’s customers of Islamic financial institutions require greater transparency, personalized products and seamless experience across all channels. Disruptive AI challenges the old models and provides them with greater choice, convenience and reach. It can make proactive recommendations to customers and suggest courses of action based on data, logic and specific circumstances, which helps elevate the customer experience. AI is able to influence the speed and accuracy of this experience too.


Where do AI and Islamic Finance Intersect? 

The lack of legacy infrastructure in Islamic financial institutions is making them fertile ground for innovations. And while those same institutions are seeking a differentiating factor in their intense competition with the conventional ones, AI promises to deliver exciting opportunities.

Currently, AI is at the peak of its buildup cycle. Millennial Muslims represent a significant group of tech-savvy customers. As this target customer segment develops, it will require a suite of personalized services to address its needs and cultural values. One thing evident is that there is no conflict between innovation and Shariah. Thus, the coming years will be about combining AI with Islamic finance in order to ensure that latter’s survival.

We are at the cusp of a real tech revolution. In addition, building a strong financial sector remains a work in progress. In tomorrow’s world, there is no industry that can benefit more from AI. This ground-breaking technology promises to deliver endless opportunities, most of which have not yet been tapped, and many believe that the reality is not far off. 

The effects of AI will be magnified in the coming decade when every industry will transform its core processes and business models to take advantage of AI’s proven and countless capabilities. One thing is for sure: Technology pioneers are the ones driving the reconfiguration of financial services in the AI space.


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