Islamic Banking

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Islamic finance industry hampered by global economic conditions

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) released its IFSB Industry Stability 2017 Report. It states that global economic volatilities, consistently low oil prices and reduced demand for credit are among the factors that currently weigh on the Islamic financial service industry. The study says that 2016 marked another year of slower growth amid adverse macro-economic conditions. They include adjustments in the value of global Islamic banking assets in US dollar terms on the back of exchange rate depreciations in countries such as Malaysia, Turkey and Indonesia, as well as the persistent lack of global standardisation, and lower liquidity and profitability compared to the conventional banking sector. According to the IFSB, the global size of the Islamic financial service industry has not changed much, with total Islamic finance assets just slightly increasing to $1.89tn from $1.88tn. Another factor that affected asset growth was the currency depreciation in Iran, the world’s largest Islamic finance jurisdiction in terms of assets.

Islamic finance and SRI share a lot of common ground

Socially responsible investment (SRI) and Islamic finance share significant common ground. Both spheres of investment demand the businesses chosen for investment are socially useful, not detrimental to humanity, and compliant with humanitarian ethics. SEDCO Capital has incorporated the Sharia-compliant investment approach with its responsible investment strategy and created the concept of prudent ethical investing (PEI). At the heart of PEI lie the environmental, social and governance criteria (ESG) that are integrated into financial analyses. SEDCO Capital is not only Sharia-compliant but also evaluates ESG aspects as part of its investment process. PEI is merging these two forces to embrace a more sustainable economic development model that is expected to attract non-Muslim SRI investors into the Islamic finance market.

WAIFEM, CBG commence regional #training on interest-free Islamic banking

The West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), in collaboration with the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) started a five-day regional course on interest-free Islamic banking. Director General of WAIFEM, Professor Akpan H. Ekpo, stated that the objective of the course is to provide a broad understanding of the rudiments of Islamic banking. In particular, it will provide clarity on the Shariah requirements and the avoidance of Riba in modern-day banking business. 1st deputy Governor of the CBG, Dr Saikou Jabbie, said the Gambian Government entered into partnership with the Islamic Development Bank to develop the necessary infrastructure for Islamic banking in the country. He noted that the Central Bank even developed an investible Islamic instrument called the Sukuk AL Salam in 2007. On his part, Professor Ekpo thanked the Central Bank and its staff for their support to WAIFEM and its activities. WAIFEM is rated as a centre of excellence in capacity building and training, and it caters for the capacity needs of the private sector.

How can Islamic finance benefit #Azerbaijan?

Islamic finance is still a nascent industry in Azerbaijan, even though the country’s large Muslim population indicates great potential demand for its services. The key hurdle that limits any meaningful expansion of Islamic finance in the country is the absence of a comprehensive regulatory framework. It is therefore important to develop a full-fledged legal framework that is specifically tailored for monitoring, guiding, and supervising the Islamic banking system. Islamic finance, as an ethical form of finance, can do an enormous amount of good. Islamic finance forges a closer link between real economic activity that creates value and financial activity that facilitates it. Islamic finance can attract investors from GCC and Asia to Azerbaijan. However, the country continues to face multiple challenges, such as a lack of public awareness and a talent shortage in Islamic finance. Still, favorable regulation remains the key to Islamic finance growth in Azerbaijan.

Islamic finance sharpens its profile in Southeast Asia

#Malaysia’s eastern region Sarawak will host this year’s World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) from November 21 to 23. According to Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, the state will use the forum as a platform to promote Islamic investment opportunities in various industries. He added that Sarawak was currently also undergoing a rural transformation programme and had designated 77,000 hectares of land for the development of a halal hub. The deputy minister said the WIEF will also focus on strengthening the partnership between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The conference is expected to attract about 2,000 potential participants and representatives of various sectors. In another development, Islamic finance will soon make its foray into Cambodia, which is home to an estimated 300,000 Muslims. Two Malaysia-based Islamic financial institutions are expected to open their first branches by the end of the year and in 2018. Another recent highlight for Islamic finance was the Brunei Darussalam Islamic Investment Summit 2017 held on August 2 and 3.

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.

Third #Moroccan Participatory #Bank to #Launch #Islamic #Finance #Activities

The Maroccoan Bank Al Yousr, the participatory subsidiary of the BCP Group in partnership with Guidance Financial Group has opened its headquarters in the capital Casablanca. After the approval and publication of the compliance notices on the 20th July relating to the model of an account agreement and the Mourabaha Immobilière contract issued by the Shariah Committee on Participatory Finance, Bank Al Yousr officially started its banking activities beginning of August.
The participatory bank is the third of its kind to start its activities, after Bank Assafa, a subsidiary of Attijariwafa Bank, and Umnia Bank of CIH Bank.

#Indonesia takes big step towards #boosting I#slamic #finance industry

Indonesia, that is so far a behind in developing a comprehensive Islamic finance industry, has taken a big leap towards the creation of a supportive framework for Shariah-compliant banking end of July. On that day, the country’s President Joko Widodo inaugurated the National Committee for Shariah Finance, as part of the government’s push to make Indonesia a global hub for the Islamic financial industry.
It has been tasked to accelerate, expand and develop Shariah-compliant financial services to support the country’s development, National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said in a statement. The ministry is the one that introduced its master plan for the development of the country’s Islamic finance future last year.

New #Efforts to #Boost #Sharia #Banking in #Indonesia

Although between 85 and 90 % of the Indonesian population is Muslim, Islamic banking, also known as sharia banking, remains underdeveloped in the country. In 2016 sharia banking assets only accounted for 5.3 % of total assets in Indonesia's banking sector. But at the same time in countries like Saudi Arabia and Malaysia these figures are much higher at 51.1 % and 23.8 %, respectively.
In order to boost Islamic banking in his country, President Joko Widodo formed the National Committee for Sharia Finance. This institution was installed to investigate and tackle the challenges surrounding sharia banking in Indonesia. Together with the Indonesian Islamic Economy Expert Association, KNKS is tasked to unite the vision and strategy of all stakeholders in this industry and turn the country into a global center for Islamic banking.
General Chairman of the IAEI Bambang Brodjonegoro said, the challenges in Indonesia's Islamic banking industry involve both the supply and demand side. The lack of business sectors that are based on Islamic banking makes it tough for the industry to develop, he added.

Without reforms, #Iranian banking crisis looms

In Iran, concerns are growing that banks may be facing the fate of credit and financial institutions (CFIs) that are on the verge of collapse. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) is under rising pressure from the parliament to immediately regulate these nonbank credit institutions, as an increasing number of depositors protest delays. Now, there are fears that banks could be next. To avoid this scenario, pundits are suggesting that the CBI be granted more autonomy by the parliament so that it will take more serious disciplinary measures. The administration of President Hassan Rouhani has been trying to pass the bill in the parliament, but certain influential bodies have blocked the legislation. The huge government debt is putting excessive pressure on the banking system, but the Iranian public still trusts banks, even as many CFIs have collapsed.

Maroc- En attendant le #takaful, le financement de l'immobilier par les banques islamiques sera une prise de risque

Deux banques islamiques ou ''participatives'' ont démarré mercredi 26 juillet 2017 officiellement leurs activités au Maroc. Le takaful n’existant pas encore sur le marché, explique Adnane El Guetari, le directeur général d'Umnia Bank. Si les Umnia Bank et Bank Assafa se sont engagées dans ce créneau pour des opérations de base, toute la profession attend cependant la réaction de la Banque centrale du Maroc, Bank Al Maghirb, et les modèles de contrats contrat ijara et au placement des dépôts d’investissements. Selon l’agence américaine de notation Standard & Poor's, la finance islamique pourrait représenter entre 10 et 20% du système bancaire du Maroc.

Do more to boost Islamic #trade finance

As the World Trade Organisation (WTO) reaffirmed commitment to its Aid for Trade initiative, the outlook for global trade over the next two years is indeed mixed. WTO is forecasting that global trade will expand by 2.4% this year and between 2.1 to 4% next year, reflecting the continued uncertainty of the global economy. In Malaysia, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Muhammed Ibrahim wants Malaysia’s Islamic finance industry to boost trade finance to increase largely untapped business opportunities using technological capture. BNM is keen for Syariah-compliant trade financing to support 10% of total trade in the next three years. Malaysia’s Islamic finance industry has assets under management totalling RM742 billion. BNM wants the industry to leverage this pole position and to account for 40% of total financing in Malaysia by 2020.

#Kazakhstan, #Malaysia plant seeds for green Islamic finance

Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) has gained the support of technology financier Malaysia Debt Ventures (MDV) to develop both green and Islamic finance in Kazakhstan. Under a newly agreed MoU, AIFC and MDV will work closely with each other to share best practices, expertise and knowledge in these two areas. Apart from sharing knowledge, both parties will also explore financing green projects using Islamic financing tools. While not fully operational yet, AIFC is keeping busy by setting the groundwork. Green finance received a huge boost earlier in January when the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development agreed to launch the Green Financial System for Kazakhstan project, financed by Finland. With eyes on a comprehensive green financial system, engaging MDV could culminate in a variety of Islamic financial products for sustainable eco-friendly projects including green Sukuk.

#Fintech and Islamic #Crowdfunding

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) in its annual report highlighted developments in the Islamic Finance Fintech space. To identify relevant crowdfunding platforms with a focus on equity- and loan-based platforms located in the Muslim world, the database of Crowdsurfer was consulted. It lists in 32 of the 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) a total of 108 crowdfunding platforms. After some corrections, the Crowdsurfer database identifies 14 equity-based and 13 commercial loan-based crowdfunding platforms with an active status. The number of platforms in OIC member states that explicitly refer to Islamic finance or Shariah and offer investors financial returns is very small. There are two more Islam-oriented active platforms of this type outside the OIC: Ethis Crowd (Singapore) for real estate, and KapitalBoost (Singapore) for SME financing.

#Malaysia in bid to lift Islamic finance

The Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) announced that Malaysia could become the first country to incorporate the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in Islamic finance. MIA president Datuk Mohammad Faiz Azmi said the accounting body was looking into the prospect. He added that MIA will come out with a book on how to apply the IFRS in Islamic finance, as many countries have not adopted it yet. The book will be launched later this month with the help of the regulators and banks. According to MIA, Malaysia adopted the IFRS in 2012, in keeping pace with global trends. The IFRS brings transparency, accountability and efficiency to financial markets. Faiz said MIA’s role was assisting Malaysian Accounting Standards Board (MASB) to prepare the market for IFRS. For that, MIA carries out various workshops and courses.

Africa is Islamic banking’s new frontier

Several African countries are vying to become regional hubs for Islamic finance. Kenya has three Islamic banks, as well as an Islamic insurance company. A further five conventional banks offer sharia-compliant products through dedicated Islamic 'windows'. Kenya also hopes to issue a sovereign sukuk to raise funds for infrastructure and help foster an Islamic capital market. Nigeria, which has one Islamic bank, plans to do the same. South Africa, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo have already issued sovereign sukuk. In north Africa Islamic finance has long been held back by a fear that it means introducing sharia law through the back door. South of the Sahara the problems are more structural. According to Thorsten Beck of City University in London, Islamic banks’ sources of funds are mainly short-term, making it hard for them to offer long-term financing. Khaled Al-Aboodi of the Islamic Development Bank says regulators don’t yet know how to deal with the sector. In Kenya Islamic transactions still face double taxation, which makes it hard to compete.

External Shariah #audit in Islamic banks

The external Shariah audit is the latest development in the area of Shariah governance of the global Islamic banking industry. Traditionally, Islamic banks appoint a Shariah supervisory board with the mandate to oversee Shariah compliance. An additional layer of assurance by an independent party will provide greater assurance to the Islamic banks' stakeholders. Several central banks are already using the external Shariah audit in their governance system, for example the Central Bank of Kuwait or the central banks of Oman and Pakistan. Several other jurisdictions, including Bahrain, are also likely to do the same. The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Institutions (AAOIFI) recently issued an Exposure Draft specifically on external Shariah audit. Availability of human resource can be a challenge in implementing external Shariah audit. This can be overcome by taking initiatives to train both the professional accountants and Shariah experts to conduct an external Shariah audit.

The future of Islamic finance in #Spain

In Spain the Muslim population exceeds two million being higher than that of Qatar or Bahrain and similar to the population of Kuwait. However, there are no Shari'ah compliant services or assets under management. Europe advances in this type of financing. The United Kingdom was the first non-Muslim country that held in 2014 an emission of sovereign Sukuk bonds amounting to 200 million pounds. In 2015 Kuwait Finance House (KFH) opened a subsidiary in Germany, Habib Bank Zurich will operate in the UK at the end of 2017. There is a clear tendency that Islamic banks are expanding their activities in Western countries and continue introducing their products in these markets. In Spain there is an excellent opportunity to implement Islamic finance as currently there is no market operator offering Shari'ah compliant products or services.

Collaboration Between DIFC And DIEDC Set To Launch Islamic #FinTech

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC). Earlier this year, DIFC launched FinTech Hive, a 12-week accelerator programme which allows tech start-ups to test and develop FinTech related business ideas. As part of the agreement, the programme will include institutions such as Emirates Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, to mentor participants in the field of Islamic finance technology. Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC said this MoU was an important step for FinTech, for the Islamic economy and for FinTech Hive. For his part, Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of DIEDC, said FinTech Hive at DIFC will go a long way towards developing segments like mobile banking and payment systems, as well as SME financing.

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