The speculative nature of cryptocurrencies has triggered debate among Islamic scholars over whether cryptocurrencies are religiously permissible. Cryptocurrency companies are seeking to sway the debate by launching instruments based on physical assets and certified as valid by Islamic advisors.
Each one gram cryptocurrency unit is backed by at least a gram of physical gold stored in a vault. The idea is to limit speculation.
“Gold was among the first forms of money in Islamic societies, so this is appropriate,” said Ibrahim Mohammed, the Briton who founded the firm with other investors last year.
“We are trying to prove rules and regulations from sharia are fully compatible with digital blockchain technology.”
Tens of millions of dollars worth of the currency has been issued so far. About 60 percent of the planned number of coins remains to be sold; OneGram hopes to issue them all before listing them on exchanges around the end of May.
One gram obtained a ruling that its cryptocurrency conforms with Islamic principles from Dubai-based Al Maali Consulting.
It is one of dozens of advisory firms around the world that offer their opinion on whether financial instruments meet Islamic law standards.
In Malaysia, HelloGold launched an initial offer of its gold-backed cryptocurrency in October, receiving approval from Islamic scholars at Kuala Lumpur-based Amanie Advisors.
Manuel Ho, HelloGold’s chief marketing officer, said its coin was Islamic as transactions occurred within a defined period, making them less volatile and addressing the issue of ambiguity of pricing.
Among other experiments, United Arab Emirates-based Halal Chain conducted an initial coin offer in December which is linked to data on Islamically permissible goods.