Europe

Is #disruption by #FinTech a social good?

Support Disruption for Good (SDG) #Challenge will showcase breakthrough models that also have material social impact

Zurich, Switzerland, February 22, 2017 – The RFI Foundation, in partnership with the Swiss Finance + Technology Association, Finocracy and the Responsible Finance & Investment (RFI) Summit partners, launched the Support Disruption for Good (SDG) Challenge to find the most promising ethical, responsible or Islamic FinTech innovation and connect them to the leading institutions in the responsible finance industry.

The SDG Challenge opens today and will remain open until March 17. All applicants will be judged against a transparent set of criteria by an independent judging panel drawn from across the responsible finance and FinTech industry. During the review process judges will evaluate the ability of each entrant to effectively scale, contribute to financial inclusion, contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals while being financially sustainable.

Discussion - Islamic Finance: what it means & the opportunities for the UK post-Brexit

Wednsday 5th April 2017: 18:00 – 20:30. Discussion starts promptly at 18.30

PwC, 1 Embankment Place, London WC2N 6RH, United Kingdom.

The Committee of IoD City of London in partnership with The British Malaysian Society invites IoD members
and guests to a discussion on ‘Islamic Finance: what it means & the opportunities for the UK post- Brexit.

The Islamic Finance Industry is predicted to reach $2.7 trillion in 2017. Islamic Banking contributes
80% to a total of $2.3 trillion. Other components of Islamic Finance include Sukuk Bonds (14%), Asset
Management (3%), Insurance (2%) and Micro finance (1%). Source for all figures – Centre of Islamic
Banking and Economics.

Our speakers are:
• Dato’ Faiz Azmi – Chairman, PwC Malaysia and Global lead
• on Islamic Finance for PwC
• Andrew Gosnay, Head of Banking and Finance,
Laytons Solicitors LLP
• Iqbal Asaria CBE , Islamic Finance expert and
Special Advisor to the Muslim Council of Britain
on business and economics affairs

After the panel presentations there will be opportunities for Q & A and discussion, followed by a drinks reception.

The evening is kindly hosted by PwC London. Dress code is business wear.

EdAid launches first ever Sharia-compliant #crowdfunding platform

EdAid has launched the first ever Sharia-compliant crowdfunding platform to finance Muslim students interest-free. QardHasan will help students raise up to £30,000 within 40 days, channelling funds from charitable trusts and potential employers. The UK-based impact investment firm looks to contribute to each crowdfunding campaign by doubling every £500 raised by a borrower through the platform. The firm's founder and chief executive Tom Woolf said the new platform aims to provide affordable and fair funding options to Muslims. Woolf said the project falls somewhere in between LinkedIn and Kickstarter, as it helps students build up a broader network for their academic and professional career.

Can #responsible #investment integrate with Islamic finance?

The Responsible Finance & Investment (RFI) Summit 2017 has announced a series of Executive Sessions organized by the RFI Foundation and INCEIF, the Global University of Islamic finance. These sessions will introduce participants from all backgrounds to the connection between Islamic Finance and Responsible Finance. INCEIF President Daud Vicary Abdullah said the alignment between the guiding principles of Islamic finance and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was significant. Daud added that these interactive Executive Sessions would provide a platform for people working in responsible finance who do not realize the alignment of responsible investment with Islamic finance.

London keen to maintain role as Islamic finance hub

Amid Brexit-fuelled uncertainty, London is trying to do its best to stay afloat as one of the most important hubs for Islamic finance in the Western world. There are now five fully-fledged Islamic banks, one Shariah-compliant hedge fund manager and one dedicated takaful provider in the UK. Also, there are over 20 banks providing Islamic financial services in “banking windows,” more than in any other European country. They benefit from the depth and liquidity of London’s capital markets, the large pool of expertise offered by specialists. Furthermore, the London Stock Exchange is a key global venue for the issuance of sukuk.
Experts say that one of the biggest drawbacks of Brexit for the entire UK banking industry will be the loss of “passporting” privileges that allow UK banks to access the single EU market without restrictions. Another issue is legal uncertainty for existing Islamic banks over to what extent current banking and financial regulations – which have largely been influenced by EU law – will change.

Gatehouse set to move into Islamic mortgages after Haresnape hire

Gatehouse Bank looks set to expand into Islamic mortgage lending after registering two trademarks for shariah-compliant loans. The lender bought the trademarks for Gatehouse Mortgages and Milestone Mortgages last week. Gatehouse is currently known for shariah-compliant real estate investment and financing. Last month Gatehouse announced it had hired Aldermore group managing director of mortgages Charles Haresnape. Haresnape will join Gatehouse later this year. A Gatehouse spokesman declined to comment.

Yielders Claims First #UK #Fintech Company with Sharia Compliance Certification

Yielders has claimed to be the first UK Fintech company gaining a Sharia Compliance Certification. The equity-based property crowdfunding platform, founded by Irfan Khan, successfully completed the independent sharia certification conducted by IFC. Achieving the certification means that Yielders may significantly expand its market presence by operating across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Being compliant with FCA regulation, Yielders offers the opportunity for the public to invest as little as £100 towards buying a share of a crowdfunded property. Yielders explains that the UK Islamic market is one of the largest, most vibrant and dynamic outside the Middle East. Ethical Islamic investment is described as being crucial to the Yielders’ philosophy. Yielders only offer pre-funded investments to the retail crowd, meaning the assets are already generating an income.

#FinTech In Islamic Finance Public Lecture

The University of East London Centre for Islamic Finance, Law and Communities held a public lecture on 22 February 2017 focused on FinTech in Islamic Finance. The keynote speaker was Professor Volker Nienhaus. Professor Nienhaus dealt with four topics: Islamic FinTech and crowdfunding regulations, Shari’ah limits to innovation in FinTech, Shari’ah encouragement for FinTech solutions and the potential disruption of Islamic consumer banking by genuine trade credit. Nienhaus predicted that Islamic consumer banking could be disrupted in the future by genuine trade credit. Islamic-compliant cash rich e-commerce platforms could provide financial services equivalent to Amazon or Alibaba on a Shari’ah-compliant basis. These platforms could sell halal goods and approve Shari’ah compliance. These platforms could instantly check the credit worthiness of buyers and would have a higher credit risk tolerance than traditional banks.

QInvest successfully exits a prime London residential #real-estate #fund

Qatar Islamic Bank's QInvest is exiting the St. Edmund’s Terrace LP Fund. The Shari'ah compliant fund was jointly owned by QInvest and a range of GCC institutional and retail investors. It invested GBP 50 million into developing a new, prime residential project through a real estate development company. The Fund was created to provide investors with the opportunity to invest in London’s prime residential market. At completion, the Fund generated 22% net returns to investors. Craig Cowie, Head of Real Estate at QInvest said the returns exceeded expectations and added a notable asset to the luxury real estate market in London. The project, 50 St. Edmund’s Terrace, completed in June 2015 and comprises of three residential blocks and 37 units. It delivered an average selling price in excess of GBP 2,600 per square foot.

Demand for Islamic finance at all-time high, bank reports

Al Rayan Bank has revealed that applications for two of its home finance plans reached an all-time high in 2016, as demand for Islamic finance soared. Both the bank’s home purchase and buy-to-let purchase plans received a record number of eligible enquiries last year. This surge follows a 9% rise in applications to the bank in 2016, marking a 99% increase over the past five years. Keith Leach, chief commercial officer at Al Rayan, said there was still substantial room for growth in the market and the bank expects demand to continue to rise in the coming years. Al Rayan estimates that 94% of its fixed-term deposit customers who joined last year are not of the Muslim faith. The announcement comes just weeks after Al Rayan launched a Sharia-compliant buy-to-let range in Scotland.

#Bahraini #bank eyes further #investment in #Turkey

Bahrain-based Venture Capital Bank seeks investment in the health, education and food sectors in Turkey, according to the bank's chief executive officer. "We trust the growth potential of the Turkish economy. We want to make new investments in health, education and food sectors in Turkey in 2017," Mohammed Janahi explained this week. Further he said Turkey had always been on the agenda of the bank since the day it was established. Janahi also explained the bank's first move was to buy the majority of the shares of a Turkish company in 2012 that produces concentrated fruit, which he said amounted to around $300 million.
"The company's profits have tripled since that day. We intend to expand our capacity with additional acquisitions," he said. According to Janahi, they focused on the food, education and health sectors as they are least affected sectors by everyday events in the country. "From the beginning, we need to explain that our main goal is to establish a strategic partnership and enlarge the business," he added.

#Islamic #bank opens in #Glasgow and already has 2000 customers

Britain's first Islamic law compliant stand-alone High Street bank has opened for the first time in Scotland.
Al Rayan Bank, formerly the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), which has just over 2000 customers north of the border, has opened an office in Glasgow. The West Midlands-based bank will not pay or charge interest and is founded on an Islamic financial model in which the customer and the bank share the risk of any investment on agreed terms, and divide any profits between them. The move north comes some 12 years after IBB opened its first branch on Edgware Road in London.
A bank spokeswoman said that a key reason for the move was that it was able to form a partnership in Glasgow with the Islamic Finance Council, the advisory and developmental body, with which it shares its office location in Fitzroy Place, Glasgow. Cabinet secretary for economy, jobs and fair work, Keith Brown said: “Al Rayan Bank’s welcome decision to expand its operations into Scotland for the first time highlights the real opportunity offered by ethical finance. This announcement reflects Scotland’s growing profile in ethical finance."

Brokers urged to serve Muslim clients better

The Islamic Insurance Association of London (IIAL) has called on brokers to better serve the needs of Muslim clients by offering solutions that comply with Sharia or Islamic law. The trade group conducted a global survey of potential buyers and almost 50% of the respondents felt that they were not offered the right option by their brokers when it comes to placement or renewal discussions. IIAL chairman Max Taylor said there is a real need for the Islamic insurance markets to work together to tackle the misconception that cover is not currently available. He added that global standards would create a level playing field and provide clarity for the buyers, leading to an increased appetite for Islamic insurance products.

Azimut and Maybank to jointly manage #sukuk fund, seek new markets

Italian money manager Azimut Holding will jointly manage its Islamic bonds fund with Maybank Asset Management Group to cater to growing demand for hard currency sukuk products. The partnership will allow the fund to penetrate new markets including Malaysia and Singapore, where Maybank Asset Management already operates. Azimut launched its global sukuk fund in 2013 which has over $130 million in assets. Maybank Asset Management launched a U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk fund of its own in 2014. Sukuk funds remain tiny compared to their conventional fixed-income counterparts, but the sukuk market has widened in recent years thanks to an increasing number of issuers and investors.

Sharia-compliant P2P lenders could enter market, banker reveals

According to Maisam Fazal, head of commercial finance at Al Rayan Bank, Sharia-compliant peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders could soon be coming to the UK market. Despite welcoming more firms to the Islamic finance market, Maisam suggested that rates as low as Al Rayan’s could make it off-putting for potential new entrants. He explained that having competitive rates was paramount for Islamic finance banks, as the cost of funding could make products more expensive. Maisam claimed that Al Rayan was unique in offering lenders Sharia-compliant debt.

Gassner's picture

Are Contract for Differences #CFD / #Binary Options halal? Well, no. Why?

Many Muslims contacted me in the last years with one single repeating question: Are CFD and/or Binary Options halal meaning permissible in Islam? There are indeed forex brokers offering so called Islamic accounts avoiding outright interest. But still: A contract of difference does not involve the ownership of any underlying (currency, stocks etc.) hence money against money is exchanged in different amounts - this is the most simple test for the prohibited Riba. Any Muslim receiving such offers should therefore insist of receiving the Fatwa and if not provided leave out.

The intention on those trading activities everyone can ask himself; mostly it will be akin to gambling and this on top of the fact that the trading activity itself is a zero sum game; meaning what one wins another looses, which rules out again to participate in such business. It does not do any better that aside from luck the outcome is influenced by know how - the same is true for classical money games as Poker or Backgammon. Still nobody would classify Poker therefore as halal.

Demand rises for #education in Islamic finance

The increasing economic importance of banks in Muslim-majority countries has made Islamic finance a useful skill. The globalisation of business education means that many schools now have campuses in countries where Islamic finance is a significant part of the local banking sector. British higher-education institutions lead the non-Muslim world in the teaching of Islamic finance, with longstanding courses run by London Business School, Durham, Aston, Bangor, Salford and Cass Business School. More than 60 institutions in the UK now teach Islamic finance, up from fewer than 10 a decade ago. London Metropolitan University is the latest UK institution to add an option to learn about the subject, relaunching its MBA in January with Islamic finance.

Christians and Muslims work together on pioneering ethical finance plans

The Church of Scotland and Islamic Finance Council UK are meeting at a private round table in the British Parliament. As part of the interfaith initiative for a more socially responsible financial system, faith leaders, parliamentarians and finance practitioners gather to agree a shared values framework. The joint venture was launched earlier this year in response to the systemic failure and non-sustainability of the current financial model. The event is the second in a series of three workshops. The first reviewed the theological and philosophical underpinnings of Christianity and Islam in order to identify commonalities. At the second workshop the shared values framework will be reviewed and refined before participants explore the practical obstacles to realising ethical finance. Omar Shaikh of the Islamic Finance Council UK said that bringing the debate to the heart of London sends a strong international message that faith communities can work together for the greater good of society.

#UK lifts sanctions on key #Iranian bank

The British government has announced that it has removed Bank Saderat Iran (BSI) from its list of sanctioned entities. The decision to delist the bank was in line with the amended regulations by the European Union regarding the lifting of sanctions against Iran. The regulations required the sanctions against the BSI to be maintained until 22 October 2016. Britain has previously lifted sanctions against three other Iranian banks. In January, the Bank of England announced that it had reactivated the licenses of Melli Bank, Persia International Bank and Bank Sepah International. This followed the implementation of a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries. Iran agreed to restrict certain aspects of its nuclear energy activities in return for measures by the P5+1 to remove certain economic sanctions imposed against the country.

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