Asia

Stronger #leadership guiding #KFH #Malaysia towards resurgence as #leading #Islamic #bank

The World’s oldest Islamic bank has strengthened its leadership to provide sharia-compliant products and services to an even broader market. Simpler, better, faster. These three key words form the cornerstone of a strategy that is seen to propel Kuwait Finance House Malaysia from its present level to a stronger position in the region. Thanks to fundamental adjustments that demonstrate efforts of Kuwait Finance House to grow its Malaysian subsidiary, the outlook for KFH Malaysia has never been better. “After making changes to the management structure in Kuwait, we came to bring the Malaysia arm in line with the group and to make sure that we drive forward to become the dominant player in Southeast Asia,” CEO David Power said.
Groomed as the regional hub for KFH in the Far East, KFH Malaysia had 18 vacant management positions when Power took over. Within a short period, he took steps to make sure that the bank had the right people on board who could assess the problems and come up with short-, medium- and long-term solutions.

#Malaysia seeks to catapult Islamic finance to the next level

Malaysia’s Islamic finance industry has grown tremendously since 2004, when Bank Negara Malaysia began issuing Islamic banking licenses to foreign Islamic banks. The strong growth is also reflected in the country's Islamic asset management industry, with Malaysia accounting for 34% of the US$78 billion global Islamic assets under management as at the end of 2016. Malaysia strongly believes that Islamic finance must continue to appeal to the broader community.

CIMB Islamic plans RM10b #sukuk, gets AAAIS rating from MARC

Malaysian Rating Corporation (MARC) has assigned a preliminary rating of AAA with a stable outlook to CIMB Islamic Bank's proposed RM10 billion senior Sukuk Wakalah Programme. MARC said the sukuk wakalah would provide an additional platform to raise liquidity for the bank should it need to strengthen its funding base. The rating agency added that the bank would be able to utilise its existing Basel III Tier-2 Junior Sukuk Programme to support its capital position when required. CIMB Islamic’s existing sukuk issuances, rated and affirmed by MARC with a stable outlook are as follows: an RM5 billion Tier 2 Junior Sukuk programme at AA+IS and its RM2 billion Tier 2 Junior Sukuk programme at AA+IS.

#Malaysia begins Islamic stock lending

Malaysia’s stock exchange (BMSC) has launched a framework for Islamic stock lending. The introduction of Islamic stock lending aims to provide a Shariah-compliant alternative to the securities borrowing and lending negotiated transaction framework (ISSBNT). According to Bursa Malaysia, Islamic stock lending will provide a more facilitative trading environment and improve trading liquidity. Any person approved by BMSC to be an approved supplier may enter sell its own securities. An approved user is required to have a minimum of RM 50 million (USD 12.2 million) in shareholders funds. Initially, close attention will be given to extending Islamic exchange traded funds in particular, as well as enhancing levels of liquidity.

Experts call for strategy to use #fintech in Islamic finance

Islamic banks have been urged to adopt a strategy to make effective use of financial technology. At a seminar held recently, Ahmed Ali Siddiqui, director of Centre for Excellence in Islamic Finance at IBA, said there has to be a strategy for Islamic finance in the digital world. According to fintech expert Ashar Nazim, Pakistan is doing well in Islamic finance, but the country's finance industry has to adapt to fintech. Market Link Executive Director Ishan Kanji said that using fintech will support the agricultural sector by providing easy access of loans and facilities to farmers. He stressed on the need to tap into the informal economy, which is twice the size of formal economy in Pakistan. At the seminar Hasan Bilgrami, CEO of BankIslami, shared the success story of BankIslami being the first bank in Pakistan to use biometric technology.

Realising SDGs through Islamic finance

According to Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, Islamic finance has a variety of social finance tools which can be used to increase funds and mobilise donations from a diverse range of sources. Through zakat, sadaqah and waqf, Islamic finance enshrines sustainability, responsibility and generosity. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is now looking to the tools of Islamic finance for humanitarian funding. The United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are also concerned with protecting the planet and conserving the environment. Malaysia has paved the way for green sukuk and this may become the catalyst for further responsible investments all over the world.

#Workshop on enhancing poor’s capability, financial #inclusion begins

An international workshop on "Enhancing the poor’s capability and financial inclusion from Islamic perspective" took place in Islamabad, Pakistan. On the first day, experts discussed the role of Islamic micro-finance in socio-economic development and economic empowerment of women. President of the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI), Dr Ahmed Yousif said Islamic financial institutions would have to play their role as objectives of value orientation. He called upon the Muslim world to stay united and include Islamic teachings in the economic system. Dr Atiq-uz-Zafar, director general of the International Institute of Islamic Economics of the IIUI, said that the session of the workshop would also include detailed research papers of the experts. The workshop will conclude today at Faisal Mosque campus.

Muslim countries should tap into #green #sukuk market, says CIMB Islamic

According to CIMB Islamic Bank CEO Rafe Haneef, Muslim countries and customers with such affinity should tap into the green sukuk market, given the estimated US$45 trillion demand for such assets. He added that green sukuk, was very much part and parcel of shariah compliance, which should be halal and sustainable. In the context of global sukuk, the total size per year is about US$45 billion to US$50 billion, so green bonds are already five times the size of sukuk. RAM Rating Services deputy CEO Promod Dass said there was US$3 trillion worth of green investment needs in Asean from 2015 to 2030. Maybank Group global banking head Datuk Muzaffar Hisham opined Malaysia was in the right direction of participating in the green sukuk sector. He added that appetite for green investment was growing, the only question remaining was how to accelerate it.

Bursa #Malaysia launches Islamic Securities Selling and Buying Negotiated Transaction

Bursa Malaysia launched the first Shariah-compliant alternative to the Securities Borrowing and Lending Negotiated Transaction (SBLNT) framework, called Islamic Securities Selling and Buying Negotiated Transaction (ISSBNT). The new ISSBNT framework is based on the SBLNT model and is expected to provide a more facilitative trading environment for securities. Bursa Malaysia CEO Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan said market participants would now have an alternative avenue which is compliant with Shariah principles. The model was chosen because it is more widely used by the market due to its flexibility. Tajuddin noted that ISSBNT is expected to bring an uplift of around 5 to 10% growth in funds transaction in the next 12 months.

#Indonesia Hampers #Fintech in Using #Cryptocurrencies

From January 1, Indonesia is introducing a ban on crypto coins as payment options. The Indonesian government wants to ban forms of payment processing and make payment processing available only by owning a banking license. Such moves show how governments could crack down on crypto coins, while being generally accepting of fintech payment systems, even going as far as licensing them. Indonesia recognizes fintech firms as those providing payment systems, market support, investment management or risk management, P2P lending, financing providers and other financial services. All new fintech products in Indonesia would be tested in a sandbox environment before receiving a license.

The new #sukuk way for efficient construction financing

#Malaysian real estate developer SkyWorld is raising some RM50mil under tranche one of the RM600mil sukuk musharakah programme for its SkyAwani Residence development in Kuala Lumpur. The novel sukuk transaction is the first securitisation of progress billings combined with affordable housing. RAM Ratings Services has assigned a preliminary AA3/stable rating for the sukuk, while Danajamin Nasional is guaranteeing the support facilities. Developed, arranged and advised by NewParadigm Capital Markets, the project has achieved 100% sales. According to NewParadigm executive director Danny Kwan, the primary objective of this financial programme is to monetise the unbilled sales upfront rather than later. It provides for more efficient cashflow management for the residential developer.

US Dollar #Sukuk Market’s New Chinese Entrant

Chinese state-owned bank the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has become the first Chinese bank to help arrange a dollar based sukuk. ICBC helped arrange Pakistan’s recent $1 billion 5 year Sukuk. Pakistan raised over $8 billion for its dual issuance of sukuk and a conventional Eurobond of $1.5 billion. China is building stronger trade ties with Asian countries under its "One Belt, One Road" strategy to rebuild Silk Road trade links with Asia and Europe. Additionally, the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a collection of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction throughout Pakistan. The value of CPEC projects is worth $62 billion and provides China with a vital route to the Arabian Sea for trade routes to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

Reviving 'waqf' institutions in #Indonesia

Waqf have played an important role in the social and economic development of Muslim societies. However, many waqf properties in Indonesia suffer from abuse and neglect. Chairman of the Indonesian Waqf Board (BWI) Mohammad Nuh urged the transformation of the great potential of waqf into a real force to support the national economy. Current development of waqf is hindered by five core issues: misperception, legislation, governance, professionalism and the availability of funding. Important issues such as the provisions of a survey or census on waqf and tax incentives are lacking in the current legislation. A survey on waqf is crucial in mapping the current problems and status of waqf assets. In Indonesia waqf institutions are largely not bankable and hardly have a channel to financial institutions in financing the development of their properties. The newly appointed Indonesian waqf board may revive waqf institutions by identifying priorities, careful implementation and better administration.

Ratings scheme planned for #Islamic #endowments

Islamic institutions in Bahrain and Malaysia are developing a ratings scheme for Islamic endowments, or awqaf. The Bahrain-based Islamic International Rating Agency and the Malaysia-based International Institute of Islamic Waqf (IIIW) hope that greater accountability in the management of awqaf can help integrate them into Islamic financial markets. This could mobilize idle assets which are estimated to be valued between $100 billion and $1 trillion across the globe. Awqaf operate social projects such as hospitals, mosques and schools with donations received from Muslims. Most Awqaf do not disclose financial figures, but their underperformance is believed to be considerable since they have traditionally been run by administrators rather than investment managers.

First Shariah-compliant commodity ETF launched by Affin Hwang AM

Affin Hwang Asset Management (Affin Hwang AM) has launched its first Shariah-compliant exchange traded fund (ETF) with investment results that closely track the performance of gold prices. The new TradePlus Shariah Gold Tracker will invest a minimum of 95% of its net asset value in physical gold bars purchased from the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). The remaining balance is invested in Islamic money market instruments and Islamic deposits for liquidity purposes. Affin Hwang AM managing director Teng Chee Wai said the fund provides an efficient entry point to gain exposure to gold by tracking the LBMA Gold Price AM index. Certified by advisory firm Amanie Advisors, each unit of the fund is physically-backed in a secure vault. Investors are provided with an option for physical redemption, for a minimum redemption unit block of 500,000 units, which is equivalent to an estimated 5kg of gold.

VBI to take Islamic finance to next level of growth

#Malaysia is introducing value-based intermediation (VBI) to take its Islamic finance industry to the next level of growth. As a first step, Maybank Islamic initiated the pilot launch of its rent-to-own (RTO) home scheme, called HouzKEY, targeted at properties priced under RM1 million. For now, the product is limited to the bank’s employees but should become available to the public early next year. The bank is aiming for a portfolio size of RM1 billion within the first year. According to experts, this is just the beginning of more RTO schemes to come as several other Islamic banks are expected to launch their own versions. BIMB Holdings group CEO Malkit Singh Maan says the bank is hoping to launch its RTO product for affordable homes in the first quarter of next year. Other VBI products that banks may offer in the future are green technology financing and green sukuk.

#Takaful #Malaysia forms partnership with Ambank Islamic

Syarikat Takaful Malaysia said it has formed a partnership with AmBank Islamic and will market its general takaful products across the country. The takaful operator said that general takaful products for motor, fire/house and personal accident will be distributed across Ambank Islamic's distribution channels. The two companies will also promote new general takaful solutions tailored to Ambank Islamic's customers. Takaful Malaysia group CEO Datuk Sri Mohamed Hassan Kamil said he was delighted to bring the group's general takaful solutions to serve the evolving needs of AmBank Islamic customers.

CDNS to set up Islamic window for savings products

#Pakistan's Central Directorate of National Savings (CDNS) will set up an Islamic window Rafa National Savings to handle the transactions of sharia-compliant saving products. The government has appointed the Dubai-based sharia advisory firm Dar Al Sharia to replicate Islamic financial model for the conventional national savings certificates. Currently, the state-owned CDNS is finalising rules and governance structure for sharia-compliant products. However, the country’s savings-to-GDP ratio of 13.1% is still lowest in the region and attractive financial solutions are needed to foster savings.

The disruptive impact of #Islamic #fintech

Fintech is fast gaining traction in the financial services industry, as both start-ups and traditional companies proactively incorporate methods to stay in the lead. In Malaysia, the national bank itself supports the role of fintech in Malaysia’s overall finance industry. According to Bank Negara Malaysia assistant governor Marzunisham Omar, the next growth phase of Islamic finance requires the industry to ride the fintech wave. AmInvestment Bank CEO Raja Teh Maimunah Raja Abdul Aziz said Islamic banks do not have an option not to adopt fintech. The only way that Islamic banks or Islamic funds or Islamic crowdfunding can reach out is to adopt mobile technology. She revealed that AmInvestment Bank is currently experimenting with its clients to use Distributed ledger technology (DLT) for the issuances of bank guarantee.

FINTQ to digitize Islamic #microfinance in Southern #Philippines

At the 7th Global Islamic Microfinance Summit, FINTQ Managing Director Lito Villanueva noted that there is a need to push for an enabling framework for Islamic microfinance in the Philippines. In the Philippines around 5.6% of the population are practicing Islam, with a geographic concentration in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Villanueva says despite its resource-rich landscape, ARMM remains largely underdeveloped with less than 70% of the adult population either unbanked or underserved. There are only 20 banks and 28 ATMs servicing almost 4 million ARMM residents. Not a single bank there is Shari'ah compliant. For its part FINTQ launched a national initiative called KasamaKA, which provides greater access to financial services, such as micro savings via agent banking, lending, micro insurance, remittances, micro investments and payments to every Filipino via a bottom-up approach.

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