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#Innovation in Islamic finance

Islamic finance is one of the fastest growing areas of international finance. The mid 1990s saw Islamic finance offer a limited number of services, but today it is a fully integrated financial system which spans continents. Modernisation of the practice has also been driven by technological advances. New services such as online and mobile banking and payment services are essential. Financial institutions are also responding to the emergence of digital currencies and the blockchain which underpins them. The Islamic finance market is embracing both fintech and robo-advisors to analyse thousands of global securities and pinpoint those with the highest growth potential. An example of a robo-advisory firm in the Islamic finance market is Wahed Invest. Aside from FinTech, other Islamic microfinance models have had a larger impact over the last couple of years. Platforms such as Micro-Takaful and social finance have gained traction. FinTech is ideally suited to achieving Shariah compliance and will continue to prosper along with Islamic finance.

Jaiz Bank is enjoying a fresh wave of confidence from investors

Amid a volatile environment, Jaiz Bank Nigeria is enjoying a rising wave of confidence among investors. Share price has been in an upward trajectory ever since the start of the year.

IFSB to Develop Detailed Guidance on Safety Nets in Islamic Finance

The Malaysia-based Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) plans to develop more detailed guidance on financial safety nets relating to sharia-compliant transactions in areas such as insolvency and bankruptcy. Such efforts are important as Islamic finance expands in both established and new markets, while transactions are under heightened scrutiny due to the perceived risk of non sharia-compliance or sharia risk. IFSB Secretary General Zahid ur Rehman Khokher said the safety net may include more detailed work on deposit insurance in 2018, while work on dispute resolution and insolvency may be completed later. The IFSB currently has a membership of 75 national regulators. Last month, the IFSB admitted eight new members, including Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority, the Abu Dhabi Global Market and German financial watchdog Bafin.

ESG progress faster than investors’ expectations, says PRI #China country head

According to Luo Nan, China country head at The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the country faces immense challenges in pushing the environmental, social and governance (ESG) programme. Still, ESG is fast becoming a well-known concept. 2016 was a big turning point, when China released the "Guidelines for Establishing the Green Financial System". The China Securities Regulatory Commission has set out a timetable which will require all listed companies to mandatorily disclose environmental information by 2020. There is increased awareness and interest from investors in relation to the Principles for Responsible Investment. There is also an increasing volume of jobs available in China relating to ESG. Luo Nan believes that communication to the public and broader education among investors are key to developing the broad ESG programme in China. Evidence on risk and consequent implications for investors need to be much better developed and communicated.

Microinsurance is Insurance for emerging customers and it’s a huge market opportunity

In this interview Peter Gross from MicroEnsure talks about Microinsurance and Microfinance. He defines microinsurance as insurance for emerging customers. These types of products are specifically designed for an underserved population that typically can’t get access. MicroEnsure is a specialist provider of Insurance for customers in emerging markets and has registered over 55 million customers in 10 different countries in Asia and Africa. MicroEnsure partners with over 70 different insurers. Their biggest shareholder is AXA, alongside Omidyar Network, IFC and South Africa’s Sanlam. For distribution, the products need to be able to be offered and distributed through the masses. Making an easy to purchase process over mobile or other e-platforms is critical. From an operational perspective, MicroEnsure needs to assume a lot of mistakes on the data input from the consumer. MicroEnsure’s technology is fully API-enabled and can be easily plugged into their distribution partners.

IFSB to develop detailed guidance on safety nets in Islamic finance

The Malaysia-based Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) plans to develop more detailed guidance on financial safety nets for Islamic finance. Such efforts are important as Islamic finance expands in both established and new markets, while transactions are under heightened scrutiny due to the perceived risk of non sharia-compliance or sharia risk. IFSB Secretary General Zahid ur Rehman Khokher said the safety net may include more detailed work on deposit insurance in 2018, while work on dispute resolution and insolvency may be completed later. The IFSB currently has a membership of 75 national regulators. Last month, the IFSB admitted eight new members, including Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority, the Abu Dhabi Global Market and German financial watchdog Bafin.

S&P sees uncertain outlook for global #Sukuk market in 2018 as #Nigeria relishes success in first attempt

The favourable outcome of Nigeria’s first Sukuk issuance suggests that it is as a veritable financing option for the country. However, global rating agency Standard & Poor’s says its outlook for the market remains uncertain in 2018. According to S&P analysts, total issuance will likely decline to $70 billion-$80 billion in 2018 from the over $97 billion recorded in 2017. The analysts noted three main reasons for their expectations including a likely tightening in global liquidity, mounting geopolitical risks and slow progress on the standardization of Islamic products. They expect that the cost of funding for issuers will rise and that liquidity from developed markets channeled to the sukuk market will reduce. A major concern is the slow pace of standardization of Islamic finance products.

#Turkey: Lease Certificates As #Sukuk Financing Model In Turkey

Although Turkey had its first sukuk issuance in 2011, Sukuk has not been used as a financing model due to deficiencies in its legal framework. In 2013 new types of lease certificates have been introduced. Lease Certificate is defined as a security which is issued by an asset lease company (ALC) for the purpose of financing all kinds of assets and rights. Lease certificates may be issued by sales through or without public offering or in the form of private placement or sales to qualified investors. The lease certificates may be issued by ALCs, which have to be formed as joint stock companies. Lease certificates, sale of movables, immovable and intangible assets to ALC, sale back of these assets to the originator, all the hypothec transactions, the papers issued due to the lease of such assets are exempted from the stamp tax. Gains from the sale of the asset by Originator to ALC, and later by ALC to Originator, are exempted from corporate tax, regardless of the holding period of the asset.

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) Signs Memorandum of Understanding with JANA to Test New Banking Model

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with JANA Bena'a Productive Families of Saudi Arabia in order to test a new banking model named Biniog Sathi. The MOU was singed by Khaled Al-Aboodi, the CEO of ICD and Mohammed Al Khamis, Chairman of JANA Bena'a Productive Families. The new banking model will resolve the problem of credit default in the banking industry with the help of Zakat and Sadaqa. JANA Bena'a Productive Families Centre provides interest free loans to support women in starting their own businesses.

Global #takaful market to gain traction as consolidation sets in

The global takaful industry is expected grow significantly thanks to consolidation and regulatory improvement in some countries. The December 2017 acquisition of Al Hilal Takaful by Takaful Emarat in the UAE has attracted international attention for the market potential of Islamic insurance, but also the obvious necessity for consolidation. In the UAE there are no less than 34 domestic and 27 foreign conventional and Islamic insurance companies touting for a customer pool of just 10.5mn people. Saudi Arabia’s insurance market is also largely fragmented, with 33 listed takaful operators competing against each other. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar already introduced new regulations specific to the takaful industry, while Kuwait has a new insurance law draft. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is the largest market for takaful industry, the second-largest chunk is mainly spread over Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. The future potential of takaful in the GCC is certainly driven by the reduction of state benefits which increases demand for products such as life and health insurance.

INTERVIEW-#Bahrain's Salam Bank to launch Islamic #insurance products in #Algeria in 2018-CEO

Bahrain's Salam Bank will launch Islamic insurance products and Visa credit card services in Algeria this year. Salam Bank CEO Hideur Nasser said the lender would open 10 more branches in the country as the market for Islamic products was growing. He added that Islamic banking made up only 15.5% of the private sector in Algeria. The government wants to develop the sector, as the country looks for more ways to offset the sharp fall in oil prices and its energy revenues. For this, technical expertise and new legislation is needed in a country where powerful elites have resisted changes. Nasser said the legal framework had to be amended and sukuk could not be sold under current laws despite great appetite for them.

Three ways for finance to boost sustainable development, cc: Davos

As international leaders gather for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, the world should be paying more attention to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 17, which is global partnership for sustainable development. First, private wealth managers need to work more closely with the Multilateral Development Banks (MDB) engaged in sustainable development. Second, wealth managers should educate private clients about potential advantages of multilateral development banks. Third, new fixed income benchmarks would encourage higher institutional investment in MDB bonds. Global household wealth is $280tn, according to Credit Suisse. Just a 1% additional investment in the top 10 emerging market development-focused MDBs could increase their amount of outstanding nominal bonds from $1.1tn to $3.9tn.

Inherent tension in #sukuk market, says analyst

The Dana Gas controversy has shown that Sharia-compliance driven structural complexity can expose investors to legal risks that do not apply to conventional instruments. The industry has struggled to harmonise, given the fractured nature of the Islamic capital markets. Most current market participants seek to replicate the risk, return and rating profile of the corresponding conventional instrument. In the current sukuk market there exists an inherent tension between the underlying equity and asset financing principles encouraged by Islam and the current investor/issuer demand for a debt-like instrument. If implemented, standards would reduce the costs for investors and issuers. Issuers can re-use already endorsed market structures saving costs and hence encouraging them to issue more.

The Latest: Pope urges Davos forum to promote social justice

Pope Francis is urging political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos to create the conditions for building inclusive, just and supportive societies. In his opinion, we cannot continue to move forward as if the spread of poverty and justice had no cause. Selfish lifestyles full of opulence have boosted unemployment, increased poverty, created new forms of slavery and widened the socio-economic gap in many places. By rejecting "throwaway" culture and a "mentality of indifference," entrepreneurs have the potential to effect substantial changes such as creating new jobs, respecting labor laws, fighting against public and private corruption and promoting social justice.

Three Reasons Millennials Should Choose An Islamic Home Finance Provider

There are three main reasons millennial homebuyers should work with an Islamic home finance provider. The first reason is less debt, less stress. Guidance Residential’s Declining Balance Co-ownership Program is a smart, low stress way to grow home owners’ equity and achieve the American Dream. Shariah principles ensure that both parties enjoy the benefits of a transaction without exploitation by either party. Secondly, faith and finance can go together. Guidance Residential’s home finance program was developed under the supervision of leading scholars of Islamic finance and with federally mandated institutions like Freddie Mac. Thirdly, social justice is a concern for many Muslim-American communities in the U.S. Islamic home finance provider programs have always avoided the speculative and unfair practices that were prevalent in the housing market. Since its inception in 2002, Guidance Residential has grown to provide over $4.6 billion in home financing and is the largest Islamic home financing provider in the U.S.

Islamic banks defy market challenges in 2017

Islamic banks made big gains in financing growth and profitability in 2017 while keeping their operating costs and cost of risks under control. Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), reported a net profit Dh4.5 billion for 2017, up 11% compared to 2016. Total income increased to Dh10.19 billion, up 18% compared to Dh8.63 billion for 2016. Net revenue for 2017 amounted to Dh7.68 billion, an increase of 14% compared with Dh6.76 billion in 2016. DIB Managing Director, Abdullah Al Hamli, says the UAE continues to be one of the leading Islamic finance markets, with assets now reaching around $150 billion, a 7% growth this year. Emirates Islamic reported a net profit of Dh702 million, up 565% compared to 2016. Decline in operating costs and impairments boosted net profits last year. Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) reported a full-year 2017 net profit of Dh477.7 million compared with Dh462.9 million in 2016.

IDB, WB eye $1.9 trillion Islamic finance market

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank are to use the Islamic finance market for infrastructure development projects through public-private partnerships (PPP). The IDB recently organized a forum in Washington in partnership with the World Bank on this subject. The World Bank suggested that the Islamic financial market has reached $1.9 trillion over the past six decades. IDB spokesperson Dr. Abdul-Hakim Elwaer said the aim of the forum was to create awareness about the potential for infrastructure development through PPP. This falls in line with the new development orientations of IDB member countries. For example, Saudi Arabia is targeting to increase the private sector’s contribution to the GDP from 40 to 65%. The Kingdom aims to achieve this through increasing the use of PPPs and through the privatization of government entities.

Emirates picking eight banks to arrange US$1b #sukuk: sources

Emirates airlines has mandated eight banks to manage a sukuk sale to raise about US$1 billion. Mandated banks include HSBC, Standard Chartered, Citigroup, BNP Paribas, Emirates NBD, Dubai Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and Noor Bank. Emirates will join a list of regional issuers seeking funding before expected increases in US interest rates push up borrowing costs. Emirates typically raises financing each year from a combination of commercial loans, operating leases and export credit agency backed facilities. It last sold a bond in 2015, when it raised US$913 million from a 10-year sukuk to pay for four Airbus A380-800s. Emirates signed a deal last week for 36 additional Airbus SE A380 aircraft, handling the aircraft manufacturer the first orders for the model in more than two years.

Indonesia hires for dollar #sukuk, could include Green tranche

The Republic of Indonesia has appointed banks for a US dollar sukuk offering that could include the first offshore Green bond from an Asian sovereign. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, CIMB, Citigroup, Dubai Islamic Bank and HSBC are joint bookrunners. The sukuk maturities are expected to be of 5 and 10 years, and the issuer may also consider the possibility of a longer dated tranche. Poland was the first sovereign to issue Green bonds, in a euro-denominated transaction in 2016. In Asia, Hong Kong has also expressed interest in issuing Green bonds. Indonesia last issued dollar bonds in December, when it completed a $4 billion transaction split across three tenors.

Al Madina #Takaful names new CEO

#Oman's Al Madina Takaful announced the appointment of Usama Al Barwani as chief executive officer (CEO). Al Barwani was the acting CEO. He was one of the key people involved in transforming the company from a traditional insurance company into Oman’s first takaful insurance company. With a strong track-record of success, the company was recently awarded the Best Arab Company in the insurance category and he was also the recipient of the Best Arabian 100 CEO Award. Al Barwani has a degree in Strategic Management and Leadership ED (CMI) and has a Post Graduate Diploma in HRM in Information System Management and Education (CABA, Canada).

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