Islamic Banking

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Govt plans ministry’s division for Islamic finance industry

The Pakistani government is mulling a dedicated division at the finance ministry to deal with Islamic finance. The Prime Minister's Finance adviser, Miftah Ismail said the committee would be set up for the promotion of Islamic banking in Pakistan. He also said that the country is set to achieve a six percent economic growth in the current fiscal year. Deputy Governor Jameel Ahmad at State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said Islamic finance industry needs to expand its product menu with special focus to reach out to the unserved sectors and regions. Ahmad said development of all components of Islamic finance industry is imperative to achieve inclusive economic development.

Spearheading innovation in Islamic banking

In this interview, Zahid Parekh, General Manager of Habib Bank Limited (HBL), speaks about the evolution and future of Islamic banking. In his view, Islamic banking has evolved as a natural phenomenon in Pakistan. HBL's initial focus was to bring in the faith-based customers and as a second step, to target the sceptics through personalised awareness campaigns. These initiatives have made a difference in changing mindsets and expanding the customer base. HBL has a wide banking portfolio and is looking to introduce a new Shariah-compliant mortgage solution in the forthcoming months. HBL has been a frontrunner in FinTech, it established the Innovation and Financial Inclusion Department almost two years ago, with the sole purpose of digitising banking processes. The concept of FinTech is still new in Pakistan, but Parekh believes it will be a game-changer not only for the Islamic banking sector, but for the overall banking sector as well.

Venture capital in Islamic finance: A crucial concept

Venture capital was of limited significance in the Muslim world until the recent past. Things came into gear when Malaysia in 2016 launched the world’s first Islamic venture capital fund endowed with $100mn to provide seed financing for startup companies and entrepreneurs. A company financed by Islamic venture capital cannot have conventional debt on its books or use debt in any way for expansion. In a first step, a startup seeking Islamic venture capital needs to be checked very thoroughly. Next, suitable Shariah-compliant financing models need to be chosen. The three common structures used in Islamic venture capital are mudaraba, musharaka and wakala. A fourth concept is shirka, where two or more partners invest a certain amount of capital in a start-up and share the benefits on a pre-agreed basis. The investing parties are equally involved in any decision to change the strategy of the company, even after the disbursement of funds.

'#Turkey can play a leading role in Islamic finance'

According to Abdelilah Belatik, secretary-general of the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), Turkey can play a leading role in Islamic finance. Belatik sees Turkey as a bridge between the Muslim world and the West. He said through Turkey's support Islamic finance was discussed among G20 countries, which was a milestone. Belatik added that Turkey had a key role to play in raising awareness about Islamic finance. CIBAFI expects the volume of the sector to reach $4 trillion by the end of 2020.

#Nigeria: Muslim Scholars Highlight Benefits of Islamic Financing to Economic Growth

Reputable Muslim scholars participated at Forum For Islamic Education & Welfare in Nigeria. The President of MUSWEN, Alhaji Sakariyau Babalola said the adoption of the Islamic financial system was growing in the country. Central Bank of Nigeria expert Dr. Bashir Umar said that Islamic finance was the way to finance infrastructure projects and had an integrated cooperative model which can eradicate poverty and enhance economic empowerment. He noted that financial inclusion was the key element to achieve inclusive development needed for sustainable growth in the country. Umar added that the presence of Islamic banking in the country has brought the unserved and undeserved members of the society into the formal financial sector.

Shariah compliant finance is now nearly half of GCC banking market: Moody's

According to Moody’s, Islamic banking has grown in a decade from less than a third of the GCC banking market to account for 45% of the sector. Moody's senior analyst Nitish Bhojnagarwala said that growth in the Islamic finance sector would continue to outstrip that of conventional assets in coming years. In his view, growth will be supported by governments looking for diversification, as well as by continued demand for Islamic products from individuals. Another growth factor will be Islamic insurers' penetration into Southeast Asia and North Africa. Annual sukuk issuances have more than doubled to $100 billion from $42 billion from 2008 until September 2017. Moody's expects a similar level of activity in 2018.

Baft to create industry #benchmark for Islamic trade finance

The Bankers Association for Finance and Trade (Baft) and International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) are creating an industry standard for buying and selling Islamic trade-related risk. The two parties have announced they have signed a memorandum of understanding to create a so-called master risk participation agreement. The industry already has such a standard, which was introduced 10 years ago and became the industry benchmark for such trade finance transactions. Baft president Tod Burwell said the association aims to repeat that success in the Islamic trade finance space, where standardisation is much needed. The Islamic risk participation agreement will incorporate considerations for funded and unfunded risk participations in trade assets within a Sharia-compliant framework. IIFM chairman Khalid Hamad said the cooperation with Baft would contribute to increasing the trade finance business on a Sharia-compliant basis.

Islamic finance set to extend growth, says Moody’s

According to Moody's Investors Service, the growth of the Islamic finance sector will continue to outstrip that of conventional assets across core Islamic finance markets. Islamic banking penetration in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) increased to 45% of the total banking market, as of September 2017 from 31% in 2008. Moody's Senior Analyst Nitish Bhojnagarwala, said the Islamic finance sector would be supported by governments, as well as by continued demand for Islamic products from individuals. Another growth factor will be Islamic insurers' penetration into Southeast Asia and North Africa. Sukuk issuances grew 17% in 2017 to $100 billion, driven largely by GCC sovereigns. A similar level of issuance is expected in 2018, although the recent recovery in oil prices could lower financing needs for some sovereigns. Corporate and asset-backed sukuk activity was muted in 2017 because of more attractive conventional market opportunities and Moody's expects the same for 2018.

Toward A Global Islamic Finance Standard

The Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) is working to establish standards and norms for Shariah-compliant banking practices worldwide. The AAOIFI has hundreds of member institutions from over 45 countries. In October 2017, Saudi Arabia’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, joined AAOIFI. Its standards are widely used in the industry and are compulsory in some countries such as Bahrain and Oman. To homogenize industry practices, in 2017 the AAOIFI adopted guidelines for centralised Shariah boards and new standards for gold-based products. In 2018, the AAOIFI is developing new draft rules on Shariah compliance and fiduciary ratings.

IIFM, BAFT to create MRPA for Islamic trade finance

BAFT (Bankers Association for Finance & Trade) and IIFM (International Islamic Financial Market) announced a memorandum of understanding to jointly create a master risk participation agreement to support Islamic Trade Finance. The Islamic Risk Participation Agreement (IMRPA) will incorporate the practical considerations for funded and unfunded risk participations in trade assets within a Shari’ah-compliant framework. BAFT President Tod Burwell said BAFT was proud to partner with IIFM to introduce some much-needed standardization to the market in support of Islamic trade. IIFM Chairman Khalid Hamad said this collaboration would contribute to increasing the trade finance business on a Shari’ah-compliant basis.

#UK Islamic bonds to be worth GBP58 billion by 2028

UK’s Gatehouse Bank has calculated that the value of Sukuk assets listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) would double to GBP57.8 billion in the next decade, if issues continue at their current rate of growth. Sukuk only began life in the UK in 2007, but their numbers have been swelling at an annual rate of around 5%, though they are still little understood. Gatehouse Bank CEO Charles Haresnape sees this growth as a huge opportunity for Britain. He urges the Government to capitalise on this week's summit on Islamic finance and make it more than just a single effort for one large oil company to list on the LSE. He believes an on-going trade mission is needed to make London the world centre for all Islamic finance.

#Kenyan firm tapped to train Islamic Finance #professionals

The Bahrain-based General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) has accredited Kenyan firm Aqeel Consulting to offer its professional development courses in Islamic finance. Aqeel Consulting's Managing Director Jaafar Abdulkadir said this partnership would develop a critical mass of professionals to support the growth of Islamic finance in the region. Aqeel will be conducting professional development courses on behalf of CIBAFI, which will be the certification body. The courses will be customised to suit the local scenario. Abdulkadir added that the collaboration with CIBAFI would reduce reliance on expertise from other countries. The professional development courses will meet global standards, but with local relevance.

#Saudi Arabia expands $10b loan #refinancing to $16b, adds Islamic tranche

Saudi Arabia is expanding the refinancing of a $10 billion international loan to raise $16 billion. The kingdom is introducing a significant Islamic tranche to the transaction, supporting Saudi Arabia’s goal of becoming the leading centre for Islamic finance. A $16 billion facility would be one of the largest syndicated loans ever extended in emerging markets. The kingdom raised the original $10 billion loan from 14 core banks in 2016, in what was its first jumbo transaction after a slump in international oil prices. A further dollar debt issuance is also planned, which could be marketed over the next few weeks.

Draft Sharia rules for companies notified

The Securi­ties and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has notified draft Sharia Governance Regulations 2018. The regulations concern Sharia-compliant companies and entities including the Sharia-compliant securities and Islamic financial institutions. The regulations are the first-ever holistic Sharia governance framework introduced by the corporate sector regulator. Considering the need for an extensive framework, IFD conducted consultation sessions with Sharia advisors, State Bank, Pakistan Stock Exchange, Institute of Chartered Accountants Pakistan, takaful companies, modaraba and NBFI Association. The regulations are now open to public consultation and stakeholders have the opportunity to share their comments and suggestions within two weeks.

#Russia’s Sberbank inks MoU with ICD to offer Islamic finance products

Sberbank of Russia (SBR) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) to help the bank’s clients access Islamic finance products. ICD senior regional manager Samir Taghiyev said the MoU would reinforce SBR efforts to develop Russia as a strong hub. He added that the ICD would help share its knowledge to develop the corporate, retail and private banking as well as the training needed. The MoU was signed by Okan Altasli, the Director of Regional offices at ICD and Oleg V Ganeev, Deputy Chairman of SBR. The document was signed on the sidelines of the 1st Russian Islamic Economy Forum co-organized by ICD, IAIB, Sberbank, KPMG and Thiqah in Moscow.

#Kazakhstan getting closer to implementing Islamic finance

Kazakhstan will host a meeting on the implementation of Islamic finance on March 5. The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) is organizing the event to discuss the development of Islamic finance with the further release of sukuk in Kazakhstan. The list of participants includes the regional manager of the ICD Samir Tagiyev, the representative of the Entrepreneurship Development Fund "Damu" Rustem Ismailov, the chairman of the Islamic Finance Development Association (ARIF) Timur Rustemov, along issuers and investors of the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange. The parties will also consider the ARIF projects on Islamic financing in Kazakhstan, as well as the possibility of the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange functioning as a platform for the development of Islamic finance.

New Islamic economy products unveiled in Dubai

The International Innovative Platform for Islamic Economy Products (IIPIEP 2018) took place on 21 February in Dubai. The event was organized by Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA) in cooperation with International Center of Islamic Economy (ICIE). The first product launched was the 'Exchangeable Sukuk', which has been created to mobilize resources using Sukuk that are tradable and don’t require the utilization of bank assets. The second product announced was the 'Awqaf Fund' which aims to create a new simple sustainable product for anyone who wants to put their money into waqf. The 'Flexible Credit Card' was the third product launched at IIPIEP 2018, which seeks to combine investment with funding. The customer gets balance in credit and at the same time an investment account. Held at Grand Hyatt Dubai, the event was attended by industry experts, innovators and decision-makers. It was supported by Alinma Bank, Islamic Development Bank and Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, sponsored by National Bonds and National Commercial Bank.

A transaction apparently complying with Islamic finance rules which dismays most Muslims who look at it

In this article Mohammed Amin discusses a structure which sidesteps Shariah rules but nevertheless was approved by Shariah scholars. He encountered this structure at a recent conference and the paper was titled "The Doomsday Fatwa". The "total return swap" structure would allow Muslims to achieve the same economic returns as investing in any identified asset. For example, a Muslim could achieve the economic results of investing in brewery shares without ever owning them. The "Shariah conversion technology" underlying the transaction appears to violate any purposes which underlie Islamic finance.

Comic explainer: how does Islamic finance work?

In this comic the University of Queensland’s Mamiza Haq explains the foundations of Islamic fincance and the Dana Gas sukuk case.

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