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Why we rejected N21.5bn #Sukuk bond – #Niger speaker

Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Alhaji Ahmed Marafa Guni, has explained why the house rejected to access N21.5 billon Sukuk bond for infrastructure development. He said the house discovered a lot of discrepancies in the bond deal and, therefore, decided to send it back to the Executive. He added there were hidden costs in the loan which would tie down the state for several years. The speaker said the sukuk request could still be re-presented if those discrepancies are addressed. The government said it had asked the assembly to stay action on the request because of insinuations that the money was meant for the 2019 general election campaign.

Apply for Islamic Development Bank undergraduate scholarship by 21 August

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) announced the availability of scholarships for Muslim Community in India to pursue undergraduate studies in India. The scholarship may cover tuition fees and/or monthly stipends, books & clothing allowance and medical coverage through public or university sponsored hospitals. Major fields at undergraduate level include Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Engineering, Agriculture, Information Technology, Economics, Education, Psychology and Learning, Education Policy and International Development.

Gulf banking transparency on the rise - study

Non-credit ratings agency Sigma Ratings found that Gulf countries outperform many Latin American and European countries in transparency and compliance. Among the most transparent banks in the region are Emirates Islamic Bank, Al Hilal Bank, the National Bank of RAK, Sharjah Islamic Bank, and the Arab Bank for Investment and Foreign Trade. According to Sigma Ratings CEO Stuart Jones, non-credit risk ratings were badly needed on factors like governance, compliance and financial crime risks. Jones added that specifically the GCC countries seem to be over-performing in the region, and there is lot of positive movement with regards to these countries.

Official Launch of the IFSB Islamic Financial Services Industry Stability Report 2018 at the Astana Islamic Economy Forum

Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) officially launched the sixth edition of the Islamic Financial Services Industry (IFSI) Stability Report 2018. The Secretary-General of the IFSB, Dr. Bello Lawal Danbatta highlighted some of the key findings of the 2018 Report, particularly the rising domestic systemic significance of Islamic finance in many key jurisdictions. According to the report, the global IFSI has returned to a robust growth of 8.3%, following two years of growth stagnation. While Islamic capital markets marked a strong performance in 2017 on the back of sovereign sukuk issuances, some underlying weaknesses persisted from the previous year, including those in the corporate sukuk market. The takaful sector continues to face challenges as a result of stiff competition from larger and more established insurance companies.

#Maldives launch first Islamic finance magazine: ‘Laaba’ to act as a platform to engage regional & global industry developments

Maldives Center for Islamic Finance (MCIF) has launched Laaba, the first publication in the archipelago dedicated to Islamic finance. The magazine aims to be the first platform in South Asia to bring together regional hubs with global partners in engaging knowledge and sharing ideas. The first issue has embraced the theme of responsible and ethical finance and how this is aligned with Islamic finance. Laaba also includes exclusive interviews with CEOs across Maldives financial institutions, including the Maldives Islamic Bank, Maldives Capital Markets Development Authority and Amana Takaful.

Savings Status Quo Challenged As 79% Of Shariah-Compliant Accounts Now Beat The Market

Gatehouse Bank surveyed eight different types of account: easy access, 1, 2, 3 and 5 Year Fixed Term and 30, 60 and 90 Day Notice accounts. It found average returns on Shariah-compliant savings products trumped their mainstream counterparts on all account types bar one, easy access. Overall, the average rate on Shariah-compliant products was 1.54% while the average for mainstream accounts was 1.29%, a difference of 0.25%. All but three of the 14 Shariah-compliant accounts surveyed beat the market average. Shariah-compliant savings accounts in the UK are growing in popularity, amongst both Muslim and non-Muslim savers. According to Gatehouse Bank CEO Charles Haresnape, what we’re seeing is the emergence of a genuine challenge to the UK savings establishment.

IFSB launches 2018 financial services industry stability report

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has launched the 2018 Islamic Financial Services Industry (IFSI) Stability Report. The Secretary-General of the IFSB, Dr. Bello Lawal Danbatta, highlighted some of the key findings of the 2018 Report, particularly the rising domestic systemic significance of Islamic finance in key jurisdictions. The study found that the global IFSI has returned to a robust growth of 8.3%, following two years of growth stagnation. In addition, the IFSI surpassed the $2 trillion mark as of the end of 2017. The report also states that the growth of the industry in 2017 was actively driven by all three sectors of the IFSI, but with a significant contribution by the performance of the Islamic capital markets boosted by Sukuk issuances from sovereign and multilateral institutions.

#China’s support is critically instrumental in developing Islamic finance

While China and Arab countries discuss ways to develop their bilateral ties, #Kazakhstan aims to become a new global financial hub. At the newly established Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) an economic event was carried out between July 3rd and 5th to talk about the main issues of global finance. Experts have emphasized China has a priority role in the global economy and that China’s support can be very instrumental in the development of Islamic Finance. Kazakhstan has also positioned itself to take advantage of China’s Belt and Road initiative as it strived to draw investors from Central Asian countries as well as from the Arab world. Lawyers have also stressed that because the newly formed Astana International Exchange will be operating under the principles of English common law, it will create even more opportunities for collaboration between Central Asian countries and the Arab world.

ADIB launches 100% capital protected green notes

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) launched a 100% capital protected smart and green energy equities basket note. The investment note, which matures in 12 months, is open for subscription until July 28, with a 31% participation rate in the upside positive performance. According to Saif Al Keem, Head of Wealth Management & Priority Banking at ADIB, this new note from ADIB focuses on equities that are driving investments in clean technology and manufacturing smart energy on a global scale. There is a growing demand for solutions which can capture and store energy generated from wind and solar power, which provides significant opportunities for the manufacturers of efficient battery technology.

Blockchain platform-as-a-service for Islamic finance launched

Blockchain experts ArabianChain Technology and Curiositas will offer blockchain-based smart contracts and legal automation for Islamic finance products. The 'Wethaq' platform is targeting Islamic capital markets, acting as a platform-as-a-service for financial institutions, fundraisers and investors to use in the trading of sukuk products. Wethaq is expected to see issuance of its first Smart Ijara in the first half of 2019. The joint venture will combine Curiositas' legal automation and financial engineering expertise with ArabianChain's Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Protocol and smart contracts. According to Dimitrios Vourakis, Managing Director of Curiositas, Wethaq separates the essential structuring services provided by financial institutions from additional services such as custodianship and payments, and offers the latter on its automated platform.

#Saudi securities regulator awards first two #fintech licences

Saudi Arabia's securities regulator approved its first two financial technology licences on Tuesday. The Capital Market Authority (CMA) approved licences allowing Manafa Capital and Scopeer to offer crowdfunding investment services on a trial basis. Individual investors will use electronic platforms operated by the companies to fund small and medium-sized enterprises in exchange for shares in those enterprises. The CMA said it would receive applications for more fintech licences later this year. The Saudi central bank has also thrown its weight behind fintech, as it signed a deal with U.S.-based Ripple in February this year.

RHB Bank #Singapore seals world's largest Islamic hotel financing deal

RHB Bank's Singapore branch completed the world’s largest Islamic bilateral hotel financing deal with the Royal Group, for a five-star luxury hotel valued at S$300mil (RM888.72mil). RHB Bank explained the rarity value of this deal was that hospitality-related assets were used for Islamic financing, which in the past was considered taboo as not all income is deemed to be Shariah compliant. RHB Bank Singapore head of Islamic banking Nazmi Camalxaman said RHB Bank Singapore was focusing on a niche and targeted market for Islamic financing. He pointed out that for the first time in five years, the government is expected to launch a site for hotel rooms as part of its Government Land Sales (GLS) programme in September 2018 amid a positive tourism outlook.

A new term is born: Shariah #fintech, and it has quite some potential

#Indonesia’s Deputy Finance Minister Mardiasmo said at the third Annual Islamic Finance Conference that fintech will play an important role in Islamic finance. Shariah fintech is a new buzzword to describe the venture of financial technology into Islamic finance. The status quo is that few Islamic banks have been open to adapt new technologies, but many scholars in Shariah boards are challenged in this particular case of progress meeting tradition. The result is that not Islamic banks are the drivers for Shariah fintech, but startups, entrepreneurs and inventive enterprises. In Indonesia online microfinance services are part of this new wave of Shariah fintech. Some Shariah fintech startups are focusing on agri-finance platforms, Islamic crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and mobile payment applications, while others are developing blockchain solutions for Islamic finance services, automated halal investment, trading platforms and robo-advisers.

$3 trillion sovereign wealth funds agree framework for vetting asset managers climate credentials

Sovereign wealth funds (SWF) from Norway, New Zealand and the Middle East have drawn up a framework to better target their collective efforts on climate change. The agreed principles advocate integrating climate considerations into their investment processes, as well as make recommendations for manager selections and participating in financial markets. The One Planet SWF Group consists of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Kuwait Investment Authority, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, Norges Bank Investment Management of Norway, the Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Qatar Investment Authority, who collectively manage over $3 trillion in assets.

Will Islamic bonds help revive #Egypt's economy?

The Egyptian government plans to issue dollar-dominated and euro-dominated sukuk over the next fiscal year. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait made the announcement, expecting that the issuance of the Sharia-compliant bonds would attract huge demand. He added that the government would introduce amendments to the existing laws to enable the issuance. On April 11, the government approved a draft law to establish a sovereign fund aimed at making the best use of state assets with a capital of 5 billion Egyptian pounds (about $279 million). The Egypt Fund will benefit several infrastructure projects, create more job opportunities and reduce the budget deficit. The Egyptian government is also planning to float shares in state-owned companies to draw more local and foreign investors to the stock market.

Why #Malaysian bonds are set to attract investors despite emerging-market jitters

With the improving quality of issuances, Malaysia is set to attract more investments into its growing bond market, say panellists at The Asset Malaysia Issuers and Investors Leaders Dialogue in Kuala Lumpur.

#Maroc : Vers le lancement du premier #sukuk souverain

Le royaume chérifien se prépare à lancer son premier sukuk pour un montant de 105 millions de dollars. Le ministre des Finances, Mohamed Boussaïd s’est voulu clair et rassurant indiquant notamment que le Maroc émette son premier sukuk souverain dans les semaines à venir. D’est pour la matérialisation de cette émission que le Conseil des ministres, tenu le 7 juin 2018 a adopté un projet de décret permettant aux autorités monétaires de fixer les caractéristiques et les modalités d’émission des sukuk souverains. La Banque centrale marocaine avait accordé des licences à cinq banques islamiques et autorisé trois autres banques traditionnelles à ouvrir des fenêtres islamiques.

Banks want 'costly' Islamic banking regulations adjusted

Banks in Uganda have petitioned the central bank to review key regulations in Islamic banking to make it less costly for the banks. According to Patrick Mweheire, the chairman of Uganda Bankers' Association (UBA), the current regulation requires that a commercial bank that applies to offer Islamic banking must have its own sharia panel comprising nine muftis. Mweheire suggested that UBA should instead have one panel which can be used by all its members when advancing Islamic banking products to the public. UBA CEO Wilbrod Owor said there were a lot of issues in the sector that affect them and need their attention: money laundering, terrorism finance, and digital technologies etc.

South America is on radar of Islamic finance

South America isn’t known to be a popular region for Islamic finance. However, there have been some activities to approach it as a new frontier. The first foray Islamic finance has made on the continent was into Suriname. Last year, the Central Bank of Suriname approved Islamic finance products and services in the banking sector and the first Islamic bank in the country, Trustbank Amanah, started operations on December 7, 2017. The other South American country opening up is Guyana. The Islamic Development Bank sees Guyana as a major oil and gas producer in the future when industrial development kicks in. In a first step the country received $900mn in financial and technical assistance from the Islamic Development Bank over a three-year period, commencing in 2018. The money will be used for development of Guyana’s economic infrastructure, the establishment of Islamic banking institutions is planned for later.

Why Islamic finance is yet to realise its full potential in #Kenya

Kenya's Islamic finance industry is over a decade old but is yet to realize its full potential. The uptake of Shariah compliant financial products has been adversely affected by the absence of supportive legal and regulatory infrastructure, lack of skilled Islamic finance professionals, poor perception and lack of awareness. One other challenge is the lack of harmonisation of the Shariah standards. Industry stakeholders need to undertake a comprehensive training of the Shariah scholars and enhance public awareness in Islamic finance. Aqeel Consulting takes the initiative to organise a technical workshop for the Shariah scholars between July 11 -12, 2018 at the Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club.

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