UK

Islamic #FinTech Strengthens Ties with European Partners

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has announced two new partnerships with non-profit organizations from London and Zurich. The first alliance is with the Swiss Finance and Technology Association (SFTA). The second one is the British think tank Responsible Finance and Investment Foundation (RFI). The Swiss partnership will strengthen the collaboration between local FinTech businesses and will provide new opportunities for knowledge transfer. ADGM also signed an agreement with the London-based RFI. Both parties will work together to assist young FinTech entrepreneurs in testing and introducing innovative products under the ADGM Reglab program. In addition to that, RFI and ADGM will also set up an open platform to share knowledge and expertise. According to Blake Goud, the CEO of RFI, FinTech can have a leading role in transforming the way Islamic institutions connect with their clients. In his view, this partnership can encourage and support emerging FinTech companies to adopt ethical, responsible and Islamic approaches.

Gatehouse Bank appoints ex-Shawbrook director

Gatehouse Bank has appointed former Shawbrook Bank director Tim Blease as its new chief operating officer (COO). Tim Blease’s previous roles include new business strategy and innovation director at Shawbrook and head of retail credit risk at Metro Bank. The bank has also appointed Sharron Harvey as its executive vice-president head of HR. Sharron has previously worked for Habib Bank Zurich and has 20 years of HR experience, mainly in the financial sector. Both Tim and Sharron will report to Charles Haresnape, CEO of Gatehouse Bank. The appointments come after Gatehouse revealed a number of changes to its board last week.

London court to hear Dana Gas #sukuk case in September

London's High Court plans to hold a full hearing in September on efforts by Abu Dhabi-listed Dana Gas to restructure $700 million of its outstanding sukuk. Dana Gas declared the bonds invalid last month, saying they were no longer compliant with changing interpretations of the Sharia law. The judge upheld an interim High Court injunction blocking holders of the bonds from enforcing claims related to the securities against Dana Gas. However, he imposed restrictions on asset sales by Dana and its ability to raise more debt or pay dividends. The case has worried the Islamic finance industry as it has raised the prospect that other firms could justify not honouring obligations by claiming sharia-based financial standards had changed.

Market-leading Sharia #savings #accounts: should you consider them?

A number of Sharia savings products are beating competitors and are playing their part in kick-starting small rate increases. Currently in the fixed bond market, Sharia savings accounts top every single category. As well as top returns, they also appeal to the more ethical saver or investor as the money is invested, not lent out. According to James Blower, managing director of Savings Guru, Sharia-compliant savings have developed their niche very well and will grow in popularity. He says there are three reasons why Al Rayan is one of the most successful Islamic banks in the UK. It has a low minimum entry level, wide range of options for customers to deal with it and it rebranded from Islamic Bank of Britain to Al Rayan Bank. An interesting point to note is that 86% of Al Rayan customers are non-Muslim. In the UK Al Rayan, BLME and Milestone are all regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and are members of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which protects deposits of up to £85,000.

Why London Will Remain The Islamic Finance Hub Of The West

London’s popularity as an Islamic finance hub emerged in 2013, when Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled plans to develop the city into the Western capital of Islamic finance. In 2014, London took a step further when Britain became the first country outside the Islamic world to issue sovereign Sukuk. The key benefit of this policy was attracting additional liquidity from investors in the Middle East and Asia adhering to Islamic finance principles. The London Stock Exchange is a key global venue for the issuance of Sukuk. According to the LSE Group official website, over $48bn has been raised through 65 issuances. Other centres such as Dublin and Luxembourg also have ambitions to attract Islamic financial services. Furthermore, in April this year Saudi Arabia listed its biggest ever sharia-compliant bond on the Irish Stock Exchange, so the competition between the Western financial centres is more intense than ever.

#UK slowly progressing towards providing Shariah compliant #student #finance

The UK Government has been thinking about the possibility of introducing Shariah compliant student finance since 2011. The Higher Education and Research Bill is currently before Parliament. However, the Bill contains no time-scale for when a Shariah compliant system is likely to be in place. When the Bill was reviewed in the House of Lords, Lord Sharkey proposed an amendment to give a deadline of the 2018-2019 academic year for the introduction of such a scheme. This proposal was rejected by the Government. Lord Sharkey instead proposed an amendment requiring quarterly progress reports from the Secretary of State. The final outcome is that the Bill will proceed forwards and once it has completed all stages, the Secretary of State for Education will have the power to implement a Shariah compliant student finance system.

Married banker from Norbiton takes Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank to employment tribunal after she was 'pimped out' to secure Arab client worth £25m

A married senior banker was "pimped out" by her boss in a bid to get a wealthy Arab client to open an account with £25 million. Suemaya Gerrard, a relationship manager at the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, claimed the client bombarded her with love songs and inappropriate text messages. She added that bank CEO Jawdat Jawdat put pressure on her to go out to dinner with the man and she was threatened to lose her job if she did not go. Suemaya Gerrard resigned from the bank last November and is now suing it for sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and constructive dismissal. The bank and Mr Jawdat deny all the allegations. Mr Jawdat claimed it was normal practice to entertain clients and dine with customers.

QIB-#UK finances Buy-to-Live properties in London

QIB-UK has received official licensing to provide Sharia-compliant Murabaha Facilities for London properties. The new product enables QIB-UK to finance a buy-to-live property as well as refinance customers’ existing properties in London. QIB-UK has undergone a restructuring process to focus on serving the bank’s high-net-worth clients by addressing their specific financial needs in the UK. The bank offers its customers a range of Sharia-compliant banking services including Current Accounts in GBP, inward and outward transfers, direct debits, standing orders and more. QIB-UK also provides Debit Cards which are linked to a client’s current account with a high daily allowance of £15,000. Additionally, the Bank offers Wakala Deposits, Instant Access Savings Account, Notice Accounts and other premium products and services. QIB-UK was fully authorised as an Islamic Bank by the UK Financial Services Authority in 2008 and is fully owned by Qatar Islamic Bank.

Different approach pays off for Al Rayan Bank

Sultan Choudhury, CEO of Al Rayan Bank, talks about Islamic finance in Britain and its appeal to non-Muslims. He says, Islamic finance appeals to anyone who agrees with the underlying principles: equitable distribution for everyone, prudent spending and the well-being of the community as a whole. It also provides an ethical alternative to traditional banking. Al Rayan Bank is structured to ensure that it operates ethically on a day-to-day basis. The bank's home-purchase plans (HPP) are structured differently to conventional mortgages. HPPs are based on the Islamic finance principles of ijara and diminishing musharaka. Currently the bank estimates that more than a quarter of customers are non-Muslim and the customer base is expected to grow in the coming years.

Islamic lender shows #UK appeal of Sharia finance

In Great Britain there are currently six Islamic banks, while another 20 lenders offer Islamic financial products and services. Al Rayan is Britain’s largest Sharia-compliant bank with 70,000 customers and 13 offices and branches. The bank underwent a major overhaul in 2014 when it was acquired by its Qatari parent, Masraf Al Rayan. Since that point, the brand was made more accessible, the imagery is no longer just Arabic, the bank uses British imagery as it is targeting all Brits. CEO Sultan Choudhury says about 25% of the bank’s customers are non-Muslim. Mr Choudhury also has his eyes fixed on the potential of the wider international market. In particular, he highlights the GCC national and expat market and HPPs (mortgages with an interest-free and Sharia-compliant structure). He says, Al Rayan's ambition is to be the number one bank for HPPs for GCC nationals and expats.

London Stock Exchange Welcomes Islamic Development Bank #Sukuk Bond – Largest Issuance By A Supranational In

London Stock Exchange welcomes the largest Sukuk issued by a supranational globally in 2017, raising $1.25bn. The isssuance is listed by the Saudi Arabia based Islamic Development Bank and is a five-year bond with a 2.393 % yield. This listing adds to the broad range of Islamic finance products available to investors on London Stock Exchange. According to Nikhil Rathi, CEO of the London Stock Exchange, the listing demonstrates London’s standing as the world’s most international financial centre and confirms the UK as the key destination for Shariah-compliant financial products. The CFO of Islamic Development Bank, Dr. Ahmet Tiktik, said choosing London as the location for the new $1.25bn Sukuk shows the bank's continuous support for London Stock Exchange.

Baker McKenzie wins major #litigation case for Dubai Islamic Bank

Global law firm Baker McKenzie has successfully acted for Dubai Islamic Bank in its defence of a $2 billion claim brought against it in the English Commercial Court. The claim was brought by Plantation Holdings, a holding company owned by an Argentinian-resident property developer. The allegation was breach of contract related to plot of land on the outskirts of Dubai, which Plantation had planned to develop into a high-end luxury lifestyle and equestrian complex. The Bank took security over the project as part of the restructuring of a $500 million debt owed to it as a result of a complex receivables financing fraud. The case was heard in an eight week trial, with evidence from witnesses from seven jurisdictions. The court ruled that Plantation's principal director had made up evidence and that another of Plantation's witnesses had manufactured documents, Plantation has been ordered to pay 70% of the Bank's costs on the indemnity basis. The nature of the case also resulted in examining the volatility of the Dubai property market and the functionality of its property registration system, as well as the Dubai authorities' approach to financial misconduct.

#Kuwait's Warba Bank boosts its #realestate investments portfolio & acquires a facility of KIA Motors in #UK

Warba Bank has recently purchased a newly constructed UK vehicle imports-exports facility strategically located next to Immingham port. The property is leased to KIA Motors UK for unbreakable lease term of 20 years. The facility has a capacity of over 15,550 cars and totalling 86.68 acres (35.08 hectares) of land. In addition, the site also includes a warehouse space of 63,515 ft.² (5,901 m²), facilitating distribution, refurbishment, valet, inspection, refuelling, offices and gatehouses. The site receives on average c.1,200 vehicles a week. KIA anticipate 100,000 UK car sales target by 2020. Warba Bank’s CEO, Shaheen Hamed Al Ghanem, said this acquisition was one of the best risks mitigated real estate investment of the bank, generating a steady and secured return from unbreakable long lease. He elaborated that the investment plan for 2017 is highly ambitious and the bank is looking for more international real estate investment opportunities in USA, UK and other continental European countries.

Islamic bank to waive admin fee for #refinance customers

Al Rayan Bank has introduced a new range of home purchase plans (HPPs) to facilitate the move of an existing home finance product to the Sharia-compliant provider. The lender will assist customers by waiving or contributing to the fees associated with refinancing home finance to another provider. Al Rayan will waive the £399 HPP administration fee and the valuation will be paid by the bank, up to a maximum of £600, while the first monthly payment will see Al Rayan pay a cashback of £300 to the customer. The news comes after Al Rayan posted a 228% surge in home finance completions in January as it reported demand for Islamic finance was at an all-time high.

Why Islamic #mortgages normally cost more than conventional mortgages

The principal reasons are the small size of Islamic banks, and the additional legal transactions involved with Islamic mortgages. In the UK, Muslims are often surprised to find that Shariah compliant Islamic mortgages are noticeably more expensive than conventional ones. A conventional mortgage is a reasonably simple transaction to document legally. Conversely, a residential Islamic mortgage involves both the bank and the new owner occupier purchasing the property jointly. The contracts used are less standardised and there are simply more pieces of legal paperwork involved in an Islamic mortgage. Furthermore, the stand-alone Islamic banks in the UK are very small compared with the very large conventional banks. All these costs must ultimately be borne by the customers and are reflected in the higher prices Islamic banks charge for Islamic mortgages.

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.

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.

Syndicate content