Asia

Crowdfunding Islamic Banks

As some areas of banking face competition from peer-to-peer lenders, #Malaysia’s Islamic Financial Services Act 2013 included provisions that can build some of the same types of disruptive innovation into the Islamic banking marketplace. One of the most important was the launch of the Investment Account Platform (IAP) in February 2016 which is a crowdfunding platform owned by Malaysian Islamic banks. The IAP serves as a way to measure customer interest in crowdfunding as an alternative to traditional bank deposits. The investment account growth in Malaysia demonstrates an opportunity for IAP and other innovative FinTech platforms. Islamic banks should realize that they have within their guiding principles a call to embrace risk sharing rather than risk shifting.

RAM Ratings reaffirms Litrak’s RM1.45b #Sukuk

RAM Ratings has reaffirmed the AA2/Stable ratings of Lingkaran Trans Kota’s (Litrak) Sukuk Musharakah IMTN I and II Programmes (2008/2023) with a combined value of up to RM1.45bil. The ratings reflect Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong’s (LDP) robust traffic profile, underscored by its strategic alignment through major townships, which supports its strong debt-servicing capability. According to RAM Ratings, Litrak will preserve its strong cashflow-generating ability, with an average projected annual pre-financing cashflow of about RM215mil throughout the Sukuk’s tenure. This translates into solid debt coverage, enabling the company to maintain a strong finance service coverage ratio of at least two times over the same period.

Kuwait Finance House strengthens its #Malaysia operations and supports local Halal industry

Kuwait Finance House-Malaysia (KFH-Malaysia) is taking steps towards expanding its operations in Sarawak on top of the two existing branches at present. CEO David Power reinstated KFH's commitment to grow and expand after paying a courtesy call on Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem. He added that there were 15 branches throughout Malaysia since its establishment in 2006, two of them in Sarawak. He noted they were evaluating the performance of the two existing branches first and consider to set up another branch. KFH Malaysia is looking forward to stronger business ties in the state in the long term to provide Islamic financial services and products to the people of Sarawak.

#Malaysia’s leadership in Islamic finance a catalyst for ESG-driven investment

RAM Ratings sees Malaysia’s leadership in Islamic finance as a catalyst for environmental, social and governance (ESG)-driven investment. RAM Ratings CEO Foo Su Yin said for ESG growth the government needs to follow a similar path to that which has led to Malaysia’s leadership position in Islamic finance. PRI managing director Fiona Reynolds said that fiduciary duty remains the biggest barrier to ESG integration. She added that investors and policymakers need to work together to ensure sustainability issues continue to gain traction. There are compelling national-interest reasons for policy makers to promote the incorporation of ESG factors into investment practices in China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

#Malaysia’s transport binge to spur #sukuk sales

Malaysian corporate sukuk sales are rebounding from a four-year low. RHB Investment Bank sees issuance rising 7% to RM60.2bil in 2016, encouraged by Bank Negara’s monetary easing in July. AmInvestment Bank forecasts as much as RM70bil. Sukuk sales have picked up after Najib kicked off US$16bil of road and subway projects this year in partnership with the private sector. This month the Public Sector Home Financing Board sold RM3.4bil of Government-guaranteed Islamic notes, while Lebuhraya Duke Fasa 3 Sdn. offered RM3.64bil of syariah debt to finance a highway in Kuala Lumpur. Fundraising is needed for construction of 1,800km of roads being built in Sabah and Sarawak. Other potential issuers include Prasarana Malaysia, which is financing a RM10bil extension of Kuala Lumpur’s light-rail network.

#Tax waiver needed to boost Islamic finance: Expert

A tax waiver is needed, especially on asset transfers, to make Islamic financing in Indonesia more competitive with conventional financing. According to Qudeer Latif, a partner at law firm Clifford Chance, in the UK and Malaysia, the asset transfer tax is annulled, they categorize the asset transfer in the Islamic financing structure as a financial transaction, rather than a sales and purchase transaction. Another problem, he continued, stemmed from the high building transfer fee, which varied from 5% to 7%. The central government had tried to reduce it to 2.5%, but some regional governments still objected to it. According to the expert, changing the taxation rule will create a level playing field between Islamic and conventional financing.

Gulf sukuk issuance forecast to remain stagnant for months

Corporate and infrastructure sukuk issuance in the Gulf region and Malaysia has continued to stagnate so far this year and this may carry over to the coming quarters, according to S&P Global Ratings. Despite the slump, essential infrastructure funding requirements, low interest rates, and investors' appetite for Islamic assets in their portfolios continue to be supportive for the world's core corporate sukuk markets.

In the GCC, corporate and infrastructure sukuk issuance totalled $2.5 billion in the first eight months of 2016, compared with $2.3 billion for the preceding eight months. Versus the same periods in 2013 and 2014, issues are down sharply from $5 and $6.5 billion, respectively, S&P said.
"Further out, we see possible brighter prospects for issuing corporate and infrastructure sukuk over the medium to long term. We estimate that Gulf government spending on projects alone - including infrastructure contracts awarded over 2016-2019 - could be about $330 billion," said S&P Global Ratings analyst Karim Nassif.

Moody's: Islamic banks' strong liquidity profiles driven by retail strengths and government sukuk availability

Moody's Investors Service says that the liquidity coverage ratios of Islamic banks in key Asian and GCC countries highlight sound liquidity profiles and broad compliance with Basel III regulatory requirements.
"In the report, we highlight that a key driver of LCR performance is the funding profile of banks and, in this context, over-reliance on corporate deposits and unsecured wholesale funding means higher potential liquidity pressures," says Simon Chen, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Analyst. "However, banks with a greater proportion of retail deposits that are considered more 'sticky', typically display stronger LCRs," adds Chen.

Malaysia Plans Indonesia Shariah Stock Trading Link by 2017

Malaysia’s stock exchange operator is discussing a tie-up with Indonesia’s bourse and plans further alliances to mobilize funds targeting the world’s almost $12 trillion in Shariah-compliant equities.

Bursa Malaysia Bhd. is in talks with the Indonesia Stock Exchange to explore various forms of cooperation such as allowing cross listings and hopes to start collaborating by mid-2017, Jamaluddin Nor Mohamad, Bursa’s Islamic capital market director said in an interview in Kuala Lumpur. Bursa plans to forge partnerships with exchanges in Asia and the Middle East to develop the Islamic capital market, he said.
Malaysia already tightened compliance rules for Shariah stocks in 2013 as it sought to draw overseas funds who have a stricter view on permitted investments. Shariah law forbids investments in shares of companies involved in activities considered unethical such as gambling, prostitution, alcohol and pork-related businesses.
Some 669 stocks, or 74 % of the total shares listed on Bursa Malaysia, comply with Shariah principles, according to the Securities Commission. The market regulator reviews the list twice a year based on the companies’ audited financial statements.

Islamic financing alternative funding for infrastructure: Maybank

Lender Maybank Indonesia has called on the Indonesian government to promote Islamic financing as an alternative funding to boost infrastructure projects in the country. Its president director Taswin Zakaria said infrastructure projects covered tangible assets such as land and equipment that could be securitized for Islamic financing such as sukuk.

"We view Islamic financing as an alternative, not a substitute, that can be used simultaneously with conventional financing […] We’re looking to finance more government projects using Islamic loans," he said during Maybank's Invest ASEAN 2016 event on Wednesday in Jakarta. Islamic financing, he further said, would attract money from the Islamic world, such as from Middle Eastern investors in Indonesia as the infrastructure projects were mostly supported by the government.
Maybank's sharia unit, Maybank Syariah, disbursed 80 % of its Rp 10.8 trillion (US$ 817.25 million) loans in the first half of 2016 to the infrastructure sector. However, it is currently struggling with unsafe gross non-performing financing (NPF) of 5.58 %.

Bank Islam unfazed by developer loans proposal

Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd said the proposed move to allow developers to provide loans to house buyers will not have a severe impact on the bank, as it will continue to focus on its target market.
“For us, we don’t see any reduction in (our) approval rate, mainly because our target market remained stable,” its deputy CEO Khairul Kamarudin told reporters after launching the bank’s Visa Infinite Business Credit Card-i (business card-i) here yesterday. “Our target market has always been the middle income (segment) and we will continue focusing on our target market and we are seeing the same approval rate (going forward)”. Khairul said the bank’s approval rate last year was 70%, and slightly better this year at 71%, to date. He also said the bank has not experienced high loan rejections despite the current uncertain economic conditions. “People (borrower) who are eligible last year are also eligible this year. For the ones who have their applications get rejected are maybe for the ‘high ticket’ properties,” he added, noting that the bank is more focused on providing loans for affordable housing.

Opinion: Halal and Tayyib – the next wave

If we look back at the emergence of the Muslim Lifestyle markets as a global phenomenon, we can see an interesting pattern developing. From 2004 - 2007, Malaysia was the epicenter of the Halal movement, bringing the terms ‘Halal market’ and ‘Halal industry’ into the global business vocabulary. Bidding to become a global Halal hub, the development of their Halal food sector made Malaysia a role model for other countries looking to position themselves in this fast-growing marketplace. Abdalhamid David Evans, Founder, HalalFocus.net/ImaratConsultants.com, will be speaking about this topic at the Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2016 in Event City, Manchester on the 30 October 2016.

Islamic banking may turn reality

The Reserve Bank of India’s proposal to tap Islamic banking to provide banking services to Muslims - who are averse to a interest-based model, has raised hope of this system becoming a reality in the near distant future.

According to Dr D.K. Batra, marketing professor, IMI, New Delhi, a large section of Muslims in India did not access banking services on religious grounds due to the element of interest which is prohibited in Islam. So it is interesting that “RBI will explore the opportunity to offer interest-free banking in consultation with the government to open Islamic banks,” he said. This requires a law to be passed, and therefore legislative support, since it concerns net interest margin for banks. The Islamic finance has not grown fast enough as the concept faced opposition from political parties, said Dr Batra.

MARC affirms ‘AAA’ rating for Aman Sukuk’s RM10b IMTN

The Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd (MARC) has affirmed its ‘AAA’ rating on special purpose vehicle Aman Sukuk Bhd’s (Aman) Islamic medium-term notes (IMTN) programme of up to RM10 billion with a stable outlook. MARC said the rating reflects the credit strength of the government as the sole paymaster of the sublease rental payments that are sufficient to meet the principal and profit payments under the IMTN programme.
In the statement the rating agency added the stable outlook reflects its expectations that the sublease rental stream backing the transaction will continue to be supported by timely receipt of payments from the government.
Aman is a wholly owned funding vehicle of Pembinaan BLT Sdn Bhd (PBLT), the developer of 74 projects comprising quarters and facilities for the Polis DiRaja Malaysia. The projects, which are located throughout the country, were developed under a build, lease and transfer (BLT) project model. As at end of August 2016, PBLT has fully completed the construction of the 74 projects with a value of RM7.5 billion, of which 73 projects have been awarded with certificates of completion and compliance (CCC).

Interview with Mr. Khairul Kamarudin, Deputy CEO of Bank Islam

In this interview deputy CEO of Bank Islam in Malaysia, Khairul Kamarudin, talks about the challenges Bank Islam had to face during the years. The bank had heavy losses in 2005 and 2006 and had to manage the misconceptions of the public as well. Today, Bank Islam’s customers have grown to more than 5 million. The bank was one of the four founding Islamic banks to form a consortium that launched the Investment Account Platform (IAP) in 2015. The IAP platform facilitates direct investment by investors into viable ventures of their choice. Bank Islam is involved in several social projects and foundations, like the Projek Bantuan Rumah (Housing Aid Project) and Promoting Intelligence, Nurturing Talent and Advocating Responsibility (PINTAR) Foundation.

Islamic Finance: Demand for more shariah-compliant products

While the number of Islamic products in #Malaysia has grown in the last 10 years, there still aren’t enough to cater for the needs of local investors. According to Rohani Mohd Shahir, president of the Association for Islamic Financial and Wealth Management Malaysia (AIFiWM) the growing demand is due to a greater awareness of compliance for religious purposes. There is a lack of Islamic real estate investment trusts (REITs) and fewer shariah-compliant stocks in Malaysia today due to the tightening of regulatory requirements. To increase the number of listings available, AIFiWM is championing a move to restore the shariah-compliant status of companies that were once deemed compliant.

Regulators to play in 'sandbox' with infant #fintech firms

In #Indonesia fintech startups will be invited to a safe space where they can test any service under the supervision of the central bank before it issues regulations and allows full authorization. The safe space, known as a "regulatory sandbox", has been adopted in many countries around the world. The central bank will also set up a designated fintech office to overlook the sandbox. The Indonesian Fintech Association applauded the planned sandbox approach as it will serve as a tangible platform for all fintech initiatives to be tested into the regulatory system. The association's secretary-general Karaniya Dharmasaputra said this concept was a good one as shown by many countries implementing it toward success.

Mohammad Faiz new Islamic Finance Consultative Group Chairman

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has appointed Datuk Mohammad Faiz Azmi as chairman of the Islamic Finance Consultative Group. Commenting on his appointment, Mohammad Faiz said he hoped to be able to continue the good work of the IASB in the area of global finance. He appreciates IASB's commitment in helping the emerging markets adopt their International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst said Mohammad Faiz had always been a valued member of the IFRS community and is renowned for his expertise in Islamic Finance.

Here are the 3 major concerns of #fintech industry players in #Indonesia

Together with Fintech Indonesia Association, Deloitte released the Fintech Survey 2016 at the Indonesia Fintech Festival & Conference 2016. Conducted between June to August 2016, the survey interviewed 70 respondents from various Indonesian fintech companies. 27 different types of fintech companies participated in the survey. All of them shared three major concerns. A great number of fintech players agreed that the current regulatory process is "not so clear." Another pressing matter faced by Indonesian fintech players is talent shortage. The third concern is the local market’s low levels of financial education. Ironically, this problem happens not only among members of the general public but also among players in the conventional finance industry.

Fraudulent investment dressed up with religious symbols: Police

In #Indonesia the National Police have warned the public to be on guard against fraudulent investment companies. Criminal Investigation Department director Agung Setya said investors who understood investment often fell prey to fraudsters because of greed, while other were lured by religious symbols and public figures. He cited as an example the 2007 Gama Smart Karya Utama case and the 2012 Langit Biru cooperative case, in which the founders claimed to be spiritual leaders. Data show that fraudulent investments lead to billions of rupiah in losses per year. In 2007, losses amounted to Rp 16.13 trillion (US$1.21 billion), but decreased to Rp 604 billion in 2008. In 2011 and 2012, losses rose to Rp 68.62 trillion and Rp 10.22 trillion, respectively, but declined to Rp 235 billion (2014) and 285 billion (2015).

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