Asia

Hong Kong Gov’t Report Says Bitcoin Poses ‘Medium-Low’ Risk In Financial Crime

The Hong Kong Financial Services and Treasury (FSTB) released a report on the status of money laundering and terrorism financing. The report concluded that virtual currencies, like Bitcoin, are not particularly involved in either type of financial crime. Hong Kong's financial regulators and law enforcement agencies are working together to look into risks associated with Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) and cryptocurrencies. In March this year, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) halted an ICO in Hong Kong and made the company return the money raised. More recently, in mid-April, the SFC said that the type of fundraising done through ICOs is better suited to venture capital funds.

Ibn Sina washes its hands of Islami Bank

Ibn Sina Trust is set to sell off its entire 2.24% stake in Islami Bank Bangladesh (IBBL) within the next 30 days. Ibn Sina's exit from the country's biggest private lender comes a few days after the resignation of Chairman Arastoo Khan. The former secretary stepped down on April 17 and was replaced by Md Nazmul Hasan, a professor of the University of Dhaka. Ibn Sina left the bank's board on January 5 this year after a huge reshuffle. Last year, the Islamic Development Bank, one of the foreign investors of IBBL, sold two-thirds of its shares, bringing its stake in the bank down to 2% from 7.5%. In 2014, foreign sponsor-shareholder Bahrain Islamic Bank sold off all of its shares and Dubai Islamic Bank followed suit in 2015.

Ibn Sina Trust to sell off all Islami Bank shares, worth nearly Tk100cr

Ten days after losing its chairman, Islami Bank Bangladesh is preparing to lose one of its biggest sponsor shareholders. Ibn Sina Trust announced its intention to withdraw by the end of next month. The Ibn Sina Trust is the largest local corporate shareholder in Islami Bank. Its 36,077,391 shares are worth around Tk94.16 crore. A year ago, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) sold off two-thirds of its shares, shrinking its stake in the bank to 2.1% from 7.5%. Two other foreign banks have sold out from Islami Bank in recent years. In 2014, foreign sponsor shareholder Bahrain Islamic Bank sold off all its shares, followed by Dubai Islamic Bank, which sold all its shares in 2015. Islami Bank has always had the reputation of being influenced by Jamaat-e-Islami, the Islamist political organization noted for its connection with the local collaborators of Pakistan occupation forces during the Liberation War in 1971.

#Malaysia should look beyond ringgit to draw Chinese to #sukuk market

Malaysia is one of the largest markets for Islamic finance. According to Mohieddine Kronfol, chief investment officer at Franklin Templeton Investments, Malaysia's sukuk market could attract Chinese companies if there were more foreign currency-denominated issues. He said Malaysia has attracted foreign companies to issue sukuk, but they were predominantly in ringgit and largely domestically bought.Mohieddine said there should be more transactions in international currencies like the U.S. dollar, and a currency regime or some central bank support that facilitates that. Franklin Templeton Investments projects global sukuk growth at 15-20% this year on the back of stable oil prices, better growth outlook in markets that issue sukuks and sustained demand for Islamic finance.

Cryptocurrency Infused Islamic #Microfinance Fund Launches in Central Java

Blossom Finance announced the open enrollment for an Islamic microfinance fund that will accept multiple cryptocurrencies. Investors will focus on socially responsible opportunities and receive profit sharing from Blossom’s network of microfinance partners in the province of Central Java, Indonesia. Blossom has partnered with PBMT Ventura, an Indonesian Islamic microfinance firm. The funds raised will be utilized to bolster micro-businesses and traditional market sellers to meet the increased demand during the upcoming Ramadan holiday. In order to participate, investors will have the option to invest with Bitcoin Core (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH) or USD.

Islamic Equity Class Should Explore Solutions To Stay Competitive - Sultan Nazrin

According to the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah, the Islamic equity asset class needs to explore solutions and achieve critical mass volume in order to remain competitive. He delivered his keynote speech at the Franklin Templeton Investments 2018 Islamic Forum in Kuala Lumpur. He believes that Islamic finance must embrace the era of disruptive innovation, with a continued strong focus on product innovation. The global asset management landscape had been pushed to embrace new online investment platforms and failure to keep up with these changing structural dynamics could put the industry at an even greater disadvantage than at present. He said that Islamic investors could also capitalise on the emerging "green" or environmentally-friendly finance.

Sharia-compliant #investments guard against foreign influence

Sharia-compliant investments have flourished in recent years, which could help strengthen the domestic market’s resistance to global influences. Data from the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) shows that the number of sharia-compliant investors in March grew 18%, or by 4,245 investors year-to-date (ytd), with transactions totaling Rp 476 billion.

Exclusive - #Malaysia's Maybank prepares to spin off and list #insurance unit: sources

Malayan Banking (Maybank) is preparing to spin off and list its Etiqa insurance arm on the local stock exchange. Etiqa operates in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia and is estimated to be worth at least $1 billion. As part of the transaction, Maybank’s investors are expected to receive shares in the insurance company in proportion to their existing holding in the bank. Etiqa provides life and general insurance as well as family and general takaful. In 2017 Eitqa reported a record revenue of 6.2 billion ringgit ($1.6 billion). Profit before tax rose 18.5% to 1 billion ringgit last year. In March, Etiqa said it maintained its top position in Malaysia’s general insurance and general takaful segment with an 11.8% market share. It was ranked fourth in the life and family segment, with an 8.9% market share.

MBSB starts afresh as a full-fledged Islamic bank

MBSB Bank, the result of a merger between Malaysia Building Society and Asian Finance Bank, starts afresh as a full-fledged Islamic bank. According to group CEO Datuk Seri Ahmad Zaini Othman, the bank intends to differentiate itself in the area of transactional banking, as well as in digital capabilities. One of the key targets in MBSB Bank’s three-year business plan is to have fee-based income account for at least 25% of its total income by the end of 2020. The bank hopes that its approach towards customers will also set it apart from other lenders. MBSB Bank is starting out with total assets of RM43.7 billion, making it the second largest standalone Islamic bank after Bank Islam Malaysia (RM57.7 billion). Personal financing constitutes the biggest portion of the bank's gross financing and is extended mainly to civil servants. MBSB plans to make a stronger push in the industrial hire purchase segment, which involves SME financing. Zaini plans to offer a lot more products and services for SMEs, especially in the area of current accounts.

Allianz still keen to acquire #takaful business

Despite a failed merger with HSBC Amanah Takaful a year ago, Allianz Malaysia is still keen to acquire a takaful business. According to Allianz CEO Zakri Khir, there is bright takaful business growth potential because the penetration rate in Malaysia is just 15%. Allianz Malaysia has recently sealed a partnership with insuretech start-up PolicyStreet to offer potential clients to purchase insurance policies online. Four Allianz digital products will be offered on PolicyStreet’s digital platform namely Enhanced Road Warrior, Smart Home Cover, Allianz Travel Care and Allianz Flight Care. In 2017, Allianz Malaysia's profits fell 7.7% to RM287.96 million from RM312.13 million on the back of 2.6% rise in revenue from RM4.68 billion to RM4.8 billion. Zakri said Allianz Malaysia was impacted by Bank Negara's detariffication of motor and fire insurances from July 1 2017.

#Bangladesh Bank suggests regulator encourage Islamic Shariah compliant investment certificate in capital market

The central bank of Bangladesh has suggested encouraging Islamic Shariah compliant investment certificate Sukuk in the capital market. Capital market regulator BSEC pointed out that other Muslim majority countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, KSA, UAE as well as non-Muslim majority countries like the UK and Singapore have Sukuk in their capital market. It also pointed out that Bangladesh needs to undertake measures to expand capital market for financing productive investments and infrastructural projects. Finance Minister Ama Muhith has recently expressed his plan to pave the way for the long-term financing of the capital market.

Maybank Islamic to grow trade financing biz

Malaysian Islamic banks are boosting their trade financing market share with various measures. Maybank Islamic CEO Mohamed Rafique Merican said the bank intended to grow its trade facilities in line with growing demand for Islamic finance in Malaysia. Mohamed Rafique was speaking to reporters after a forum on "Islamic Trade Finance: Revitalising Trade and Unlocking New Potential". He said a lot more could be done to boost Islamic trade facilities, which stood at 1.5% out of US$50 billion. RHB Islamic Bank CEO Datuk Adissadikin Ali said Islamic banks would need to collaborate with the financial technology players to provide e-commerce trade financing. He added that RHB Islamic Bank was developing an e-commerce trade financing platform to enable companies to boost their working capital and the platform was likely to be implemented next year.

#Malaysia remains lead in Islamic finance

Malaysia has great potential to broaden its market share and strengthen its leadership in Islamic finance. According to the latest report by the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre, Asia’s Islamic financial assets amounted to US$528.7 billion (RM2.05 trillion), or 26% of the world’s Shariah-compliant financial assets as at end-2017. Malaysia continued to be the main driver for both sukuk outstanding and issuance for the year, with a market share of 51% and 36.2% respectively as at end-2017. The country also led in the Islamic wealth management industry with US$28.3 billion (36.5% global share). It also ranked first in terms of number of funds with a total of 394 funds and 27.9% global share, followed by Pakistan with 147 funds and Indonesia with 143. In the banking sector, Malaysia ranked third globally after Iran and Saudi Arabia with a total Islamic banking assets of US$204.4 billion as at end-2017.

Syed Alwi is Agrobank’s new CEO

Agrobank has appointed Syed Alwi Mohamed Sultan as its new president and CEO. The appointment has received approval from Bank Negara Malaysia and the Ministry of Finance. Previously, he had held several senior management positions with various banks such as Bank Muamalat Malaysia, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered Saadiq, The Islamic Bank of Asia and HL Bank Singapore. Syed Alwi has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a first-class master of business administration in Islamic finance from the International Islamic University of Malaysia. Agrobank became a full-fledged Islamic bank in 2015. It provides Shariah-compliant banking products and funding to cater for the halal food industry and agriculture-related activities.

Public Mutual launches e-Islamic flexi allocation #fund

Public Mutual has on Tuesday launched an e-series fund called Public e-Islamic Flexi Allocation Fund (PeIFAF). The fund's objective is to achieve capital growth over the medium to long-term by investing up to 98% of its net asset value in Shariah-compliant equities or sukuk. Public Mutual CEO Yeoh Kim Hong said PeIFAF has a flexible fund mandate that enables the fund managers to capitalise on investment opportunities. The minimum initial and additional investment amount is only RM100 and the sales charge is up to 3.75%. The initial issue price for PeIFAF is 25 sen per unit during the 21-day initial offer period from Tuesday to April 23. To coincide with the launch of this fund, it is holding a campaign during the initial offer period. The campaign offers 203 prizes. The grand prize is RM3,000 of money market fund units.

MBSB rebrands AFB as MBSB Bank

Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB) has rebranded its recently acquired Asian Finance Bank Bhd (AFB) as MBSB Bank. MBSB Bank's CEO Datuk Seri Ahmad Zaini Othman said the bank would provide Shariah-compliant products and services, such as consumer banking, business banking and trade financing. He added that the bank would also focus on developing its financial technology capabilities to attract more customers. The lender has already embarked on several digitisation initiatives, including big data projects started in June 2017. MBSB Bank plans to launch its fintech capabilities for wealth management and trade facilities by the third quarter of this year, and to have Internet banking facilities ready by end-2018. MBSB finalised its acquisition of AFB in February for RM644.95 million with the latter becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of MBSB. With the transfer of all MBSB’s Shariah-compliant assets and liabilities to AFB, MBSB Bank is the second-largest full-fledged Islamic bank in the country.

Call for Good Practices on Islamic Finance and Impact Investing Activities

Click here to apply http://bit.ly/2tN5RAZ

Purpose of this call is to invite private and public sector to share their good practices on
•Islamic finance funded impact investments and dedicated vehicles
•impact investment vehicles in the OIC region
•Islamic social finance vehicles

for the mapping study that is being carried out under the Global Islamic Finance and Impact Investing Platform (GIFIIP). The selected cases will be analysed by the research team managed by IICPSD and IRTI. Subsequently the good practices, information on vehicles and further findings will be published as part of the study.

Investment Focus

#Malaysia central bank to launch revised #takaful operational framework

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) plans to revise its takaful operational framework. Governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim said the revised framework would be published for consultation before the middle of the year. He said it would strengthen the governance of takaful operators, including how takaful funds are managed, to further safeguard the interest of takaful participants. On the objective of 25% family takaful penetration by 2020, he said it was ambitious, but achievable. Muhammad noted that the industry was lagging in terms of migration to e-payments. He added that another area that is wide open for innovation was the integration of takaful with elements of waqf, sadaqah and zakat.

Republic of #Indonesia’s $3 Billion Sovereign #Green #Sukuk Offering

Indonesia issued a 5-year US$1.25 billion green Wakala Sukuk as the first issuance under its recently established Green Bond and Green Sukuk Framework. Norton Rose Fulbright has advised Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Citigroup, CIMB, Dubai Islamic Bank and HSBC, acting as joint lead managers and joint bookrunners. The Republic intends to use the proceeds exclusively to finance green projects, including renewable energy, sustainable transport, waste management, climate-related projects and green buildings. Alongside the 5-year green Sukuk, Norton Rose Fulbright also acted for the joint lead managers and joint bookrunners in the Republic’s 10-year US$1.75 billion Wakala Sukuk issuance.

Bank Rakyat to continue Islamic Banker Programme for the second edition

Bank Rakyat has recently launched its second edition of the Islamic Banker Programme which aims to produce future leaders for the banking industry. The programme recently received recognition from the 26th World HRD Congress 2018 by winning three top awards: Innovation in Recruitment, Best Apprenticeship and Usage of Digital Media in Recruitment. Throughout the training period, each trainee will be assigned to a mentor from the senior management team. Initially, each trainee will go through a two-month training program before they undergo job rotation across the key business units within the Bank for 10 months. Then, they will be placed in a particular sector based on their respective strengths and interests for a year. At the end, their performance will be assessed before being offered permanent placement at Bank Rakyat. At the end of the two year internship, participants will also be awarded with the Chartered Professional in Islamic Finance (CPIF) certificate from the Chartered Institute of Islamic Finance Professionals (CIIF).

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