The New York Times

#Saudi Arabia's IDB Plans #Blockchain-Based Financial Inclusion Product

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) plans to use blockchain technology to develop sharia-compliant products to support financial inclusion in its member countries. The bank's Islamic Research and Training Institute signed an agreement with local firm Ateon and Belgium-based SettleMint for the development of the project. Blockchain involves a shared electronic ledger that allows all parties to track information, removing the need for third-party verification. The IDB said such features would allow for instantaneous clearing and settlement of transactions and asset exchanges, while helping eliminate counterparty risk.

Iran Ruling In Europe Draws Anger From U.S.

In a setback for the United States’ attempts to isolate Iran, the General Court in Brussels threw out sanctions Friday on seven Iranian companies, including four banks, rejecting arguments that they were acting as front companies to bypass the punitive measures. The United States Treasury took the opposite tack on Friday, imposing restrictions on a network of six individuals and four businesses for links to oil sales. These actions represent a renewed crackdown to curb the use of front companies, financial institutions and businesspeople to conceal the direct involvement of the Iranian government and entities like the National Iranian Oil Company and the Naftiran Intertrade Company. European officials are expected to hold initial discussions on whether to appeal on Tuesday.

Filling a Niche for Islamic Banking

Islamic finance activity has been growing 14 percent per year, with Islamic finance assets exceeding $1.1 trillion in cumulative value in 2011.Such growth has pushed more educational institutions into creating degree programs in Islamic finance. In 2005, the International Islamic University Malaysia created an Islamic banking institute that offers students Master of Science and doctoral degrees in the subject, among other universities. The classes are aimed at both familiarizing students with the history of Islamic banking products, and encouraging them to think about developing more contemporary services.

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