Katharine Budd, the chief executive and co-founder of Now Money, a Dubai-based fintech start-up, explains how fintech works.
This is a new financial services phenomenon. While nowadays you might be able to operate your bank account from a website or mobile app, but the systems behind these online user interfaces have barely changed since they were implemented in the 1970s. The international payment transfer system Swift still runs on the telephone systems. This means that no matter how nice the front-end website your account is on, the transactions displayed are still run off legacy systems, which can lead to legacy issues such as delays in processing transactions and potentially losing the transaction in the system altogether.
New start-ups are innovating where banks are stagnating and are cooperating with regulators and cybersecurity experts and developing new technology. These organisations have become know as “fintechs” and their purpose can range from offering customers alternative ways to bank, usually through mobile, to using advanced analytics to provide investment recommendations.
Dubai-based building company Drake & Scull said it breached financial covenants in relation to a sukuk syndicated facility and other bank facilities in 2016. The company incurred an annual loss 815.3 million dirhams ($222.01 million) last year as low oil prices and an economic slowdown hit the construction sector in the Gulf region. Drake & Scull was not able to comply with reporting requirements requested for a conditional waiver and therefore, breached financial covenants. These loans are now overdue on their principal and interest payments, and they are technically payable on demand.
Dubai Financial Market (DFM) said it has officially published the final version of its Standard on Hedging against Investment and Finance Risks. This standard is the newest addition to DFM’s Sharia-compliant standards, which include Standard on Stocks and Standard on Sukuk issued in 2007 and 2014. The key amendments and add-ons to the draft of the standard are adding two types of risks, property risk and reputational risk. The amendment also emphasises the admissibility of the penalty clause only in Istisna, supply contracts and labour-lease contracts, excluding the contracts that result in a monetary debt owed by the debtor. It also emphasises the admissibility of the third-party guarantee in contracts of partnerships, Mudaraba and agency in investment, provided no link is made between this guarantee and the contract of partnership or Mudaraba.
On March 15 Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank appointed Khamis Buharoun as acting CEO. The appointment of acting CEO Khamis Buharoun is in context of CEO Tirad Marouf Al Mahmoud's medical leave.
The Arab Regulators Conference, hosted by the Arab Monetary Fund, took place on 8-9 March in Abu Dhabi. The two-day conference was an opportunity for regulators to engage in an open dialogue on how to strengthen the development of corporate governance across the region. The conference was attended by over 160 delegates from 17 different countries from both the regulatory and the private sectors. Abdullatif Al Othman, Chairman of Saudi Arabian Industrial Investments (SAIIC) highlighted the importance of corporate governance. He urged attendees to adopt the highest international standards of corporate governance, to help move the region from frontier markets to emerging markets to developed markets. This year, board diversity and women’s role on the board were also widely discussed as were governance trends and best practices.
Bahrain's GFH Financial Group may merge with Dubai-based Shuaa Capital, GFH said in a statement. A web of ties between GFH and Shuaa began forming last year. In May, Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) and GFH said they were jointly setting up an Islamic bank called ADCorp with initial capital of $100 million. In November, ADFG bought a 48.36% stake in Shuaa, which has a market capitalisation of about $535 million. In December, Shuaa bought 14% of Bahrain's Khaleeji Commercial Bank for $25 million. GFH owns 47% of Khaleeji. On Sunday, Shuaa said it would acquire Integrated Capital and Integrated Securities, both controlled by ADFG. Integrated Capital owns 11.74% of GFH. ADFG officials did not respond to requests for comment about the possible merger.
A low-income housing policy will be introduced in Dubai, to provide housing units for individuals earning low income and renovate some old areas in the emirate. The Crown Prince of Dubai HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum approved the policy. It will classify low-income people into Emiratis and non-Emiratis, including expats and workers, in strategic sectors in Dubai. The policy will also include families’ income levels, place of residence, and public benefits and will compare them with requirements and the extent of challenges families are facing. Sheikh Hamdan approved two main programmes. The first one aims to cooperate with real estate developers in order to provide housing units for low-income families while the second aims to refurbish some old areas in Dubai.
Noor Bank CEO Hussain Al Qemzi has ruled out possibilities of any possible mergers in the UAE’s Islamic banks. The last merger is between First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi, expected to complete by end of first quarter 2017. The merged entity is likely to create one of the largest banks in the Middle East and Africa, with assets of $175 billion (AED642bn). Al Qemzi said Islamic banks need innovation to integrate and position themselves to offer value and a better choice for Muslim and non-Muslim customers in order to grow. The CEO said a shortage of Sharia scholars was also impeding growth of the Islamic finance industry with many institutions in the country sharing advisors.
The United Arab Emirates' Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) plans to issue convertible sukuk equivalent to 10% of the lender's capital. Funds raised through the debt sale will be used by Islamic endowments selected by the government of the emirate of Sharjah. The bank also authorised a capital increase to 2.67 billion dirhams ($726 million) from 2.43 billion dirhams.
In this interview HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal reveals the full story behind his investment firm’s jump into the Shari’ah space. He founded KBW Investments four years ago and launched in mid-January his newest company, ARADA, in partnership with Basma Group. KBW’s first movement in the Shari’ah-compliant investment space is called Crestmount Capital. Prince Khaled found the fairness of Islamic finance most appealing, the extensive work in preparation of launching Crestmount Capital with Amanie Advisors has been really educational. The projects that Crestmount Fund will invest in will be delivered by PietyTHP Developments, which is a joint venture between Piety and the property arm of Lembaga Tabung Haji of Malaysia. Crestmount Fund I, a Shari’ah-compliant real estate private equity fund, is structured as a Cayman Islands entity. It will fund five identified under-development residential projects in Sydney, Australia, through Shari'ah-compliant commodity Murabahah agreements.
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has issued a statement clarifying that the story issued by Reuters about a US dollar Sukuk issuance in the next few months is incorrect. Reuters had recently reported that ADIB is planning to make a US dollar-denominated Sukuk issue in May this year. ADIB said that it has no immediate plans to issue any Sukuk and this has been clarified in an official statement to Reuters.
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) is considering to make a U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk issue over the next few months. The Islamic lender would join a number of Gulf Cooperation Council banks raising debt internationally through both Islamic and conventional bonds to improve their liquidity. Bahrain-based Gulf International Bank was the first regional lender to raise debt internationally this year with a $500 million bond sale in January. It was followed by a $1 billion sukuk sale by Dubai Islamic Bank, a $500 million conventional bond by Ahli Bank Qatar and a $500 million bond by the United Arab Emirates’ Bank of Sharjah.
The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has published its new financial technology (fintech) consultation paper. The paper is the third in a series, setting out the DFSA’s approach to the regulation of pioneering fintech activities. The paper sets out the DFSA’s approach to FinTech firms that want to test innovative products and services in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Firms meeting the qualifying criteria will receive a Financial Services Licence, referred to as an Innovation Testing Licence. The testing phase is a step towards the FinTech firm obtaining a full Financial Services Licence.
Saif Hadef Al Shamsi, Assistant Governor at the UAE Central Bank, has said that total Islamic banking assets in the UAE have increased to approximately Dh520 billion in the past few years. Al Shamsi added that Islamic banking’ assets account for around 20% of Dh2.6 trillion of the total assets of the state’s banks. The assistant governor pointed out that UAE Islamic banking institutions account for about 7% of the total assets of Islamic banking around the world. This approximately amounts to a total of $1.5 trillion (Dh5.5 trillion). He further explained that Islamic banking deposits increased by 42% over the past three years and that lending by Islamic banks increased by 54%.
According to Fitch Ratings, a slowdown in Islamic financing growth in the UAE will reveal a deterioration in banks' asset quality as portfolios season more quickly. This will start to become evident as banks report their 2016 results. Financing growth slowed in 2016 and a continuing slowdown in 2017 is expected. Demand for Islamic financing in the UAE has grown rapidly with increasing customer awareness and wider adoption of Shari'ah products, especially among retail customers. Growth of Islamic bank financing in 2016 was expected to have been significantly lower than in 2015, although still higher than that of conventional bank lending. Newer Islamic banks with smaller franchises are likely to be affected first by the slowdown. Those that have been established for longer are likely to be affected later, and to a lesser degree, given their stronger franchises.
Ajman Bank has signed a financing agreement with Saudi German Hospitals Group for the construction of Saudi German Hospital Ajman (SGH-Ajman). The planned hospital would be a 50- bed facility in the Emirate of Ajman. The total cost of the project is AED327.3 million, and the completion of all phases of the project and formal opening of the hospital is expected in 2018. The signing of the agreement was overseen by Mohamed Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of Ajman Bank, and Sobhi Batterjee, CEO and Chairman of the Saudi German Hospitals Group. Akram Khan, Vice President of Ajman Bank, said that the agreement includes providing a housing fund for hospital workers and a range of items within the framework of the agreement.
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank dismissed reports that it may merge with Al-Hilal Bank as consolidation takes hold in the emirate’s financial-services industry. Abu Dhabi is combining National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank and two sovereign wealth funds as it seeks to cut costs and merge firms with overlapping assets. The next step could be a tie-up between ADIB with Al-Hilal and a combination of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Union National Bank. Tirad Mahmoud said ADIB plans to stick to its core markets and strengthen its presence. He also said that mergers were a shareholder issue and there might be 'some pressure' on net interest margins this year. ADIB posted a 1% rise in 2016 net profit to Dh1.95 billion ($530 million) on Tuesday as provisions rose to Dh970 million from Dh820 million.
Dubai Islamic Bank became the first Gulf financial institution to print a sukuk this year as it priced a US$1bn 3.664% five-year issuance. The only other bank from the region to have issued this year is Gulf International Bank, which sold a conventional US$500m five-year last month. Proceeds will go towards refinancing a US$500m sukuk coming due in May, as well as a US$300m maturity for the subsidiary Tamweel. Middle East accounts took 61%, Europe 20%, and Asia 19%. By investor type, banks got 52%, asset managers 39%, agencies 3%, private banks 2% and insurers 2%. Lead arrangers include Bank ABC, DIB, Emirates NBD, HSBC, KFH, Maybank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah Islamic Bank and Standard Chartered.
Applications for Islamic car loans in the UAE grew by 64.79% from 2015 to 2016. Despite growth in Islamic car loans, car loans based on traditional finance were more popular among UAE residents in 2016. Emirates NBD’s Feature-Packed Auto Loan was the most applied-for car loan in 2016. The second most applied-for auto loan of 2016 was that of HSBC, the third, fourth and fifth most applied-for car loans of 2016 were from Islamic banks. Emirates Islamic’s Auto Finance product came in third place, while Noor Bank’s Auto Finance and Ajman Bank’s Car Finance came in fourth and fifth respectively.
The Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) has completed the issuance of a US$1 billion 10-year sukuk. The $1billion sukuk will be listed on the Nasdaq Dubai exchange and is the first to be issued from the region in 2017 and the second for ICD since 2014. International investor participation was robust with 26% of the issuance subscribed by investors based in the United Kingdom and Europe and 15% by investors based in Asia. Regional investor participation consisted of 58% of the total subscription with the remaining 1% of the investors based around the rest of the world. CEO Mohammed Al Shaibani said the issuance proves the ICD’s ability to provide a stable foundation that supports the ongoing success of Dubai.