Islamic Banking

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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.

Le combat de la ville de Nice contre une enseigne de «finance islamique»

Alors qu'une société souhaitait installer des enseignes lumineuses avec la mention "finance islamique", le tribunal administratif de Nice a validé le refus de la mairie. Un nouveau dossier communautaire à gérer pour la ville, un an après l'affaire des burkinis. Le dossier pourrait raviver les tensions. Le tribunal administratif de Nice a débouté aujourd'hui jeudi 6 juillet la société Noorassur de sa requête contre la mairie de Nice, et a validé le refus par la mairie que la société appose deux enseignes lumineuses. Le juge a estimé que la décision de la mairie ne pouvait être regardée comme portant atteinte. Dans un communiqué, Christian Estrosi s'est félicité de la décision du tribunal. Du côté de la société Noorassur, l'ordonnance rendue en référé ne clôt pas l'affaire.

Amid Dana debacle, Islamic finance seeks safeguards against illegality claims

The Islamic finance industry is seeking ways to safeguard deals against challenges to their religious permissibility. Sharjah-based Dana Gas declared it would not make payments on $700 million of sukuk because Islamic finance standards had changed since the instruments were issued. This raised concern across the Islamic finance industry that more companies could avoid redeeming sukuk by adopting the same argument as Dana. To try to avoid similar cases in future, investors may demand more detailed and restrictive language in sukuk documentation. Such language already exists for some sukuk, but it is not used consistently and is not standardised. Investors may also screen the groups of scholars who provide sharia endorsements for sukuk. The newly formed high sharia authority for Islamic banking and finance is expected to set rules and a general framework for Islamic finance governance in the United Arab Emirates.

CIMB Islamic CEO says Dana Gas’ case is a dud, won’t hurt market

According to Mohamed Rafe Mohamed Haneef, CEO of CIMB Islamic Bank, Dana Gas’s case will leave the global Islamic finance industry relatively unaffected. Dana Gas said it no longer considered its two securities due in October as compliant with Islamic principles under UAE law. Unlike Malaysia, most Arab countries have no centralised Shariah boards to approve deal structures. In Haneef's opinion, Dana Gas’s case will probably be dismissed, as the sukuk agreement is subject to laws in both the United Arab Emirates and the U.K. A U.K. court is due to issue a ruling on Dana Gas' attempt to extend an injunction preventing sukuk holders from taking action regarding the debt. The company has proposed restructuring the notes on terms that are less advantageous to investors and plans to explain the legal action on a conference call with investors on July 6.

Shariah-compliant, gold-backed #digi-coins could change Islamic finance

The launch of the first-ever Islamic finance-compatible cryptocurrency could be a game changer for the entire Islamic banking industry. OneGram calls itself the world’s first Shariah-compliant cryptocurrency whose value is backed by actual gold reserves. The company started selling a total stock of 12.4mn digital tokens on May 21 that are backed by one gram of gold each. The Initial Coin Offering programme aims to raise around $500mn. At its sister company GoldGuard, OneGram will store the physical gold in a vault inside the Dubai Airport Free Zone. OneGram’s founder and CEO, Mohammed Ibrahim Khan, says he felt inspired by Bitcoin whose use is subdued in the Arab world. He added that OneGram has Shariah scholars on its board who ensure that the company is fully compliant with Islamic finance requirements. According to Mohammed, large-scale funds of more than $200mn have been committed by Dubai-based Tabarak Investment Capital. The sale of the OneGram coins is going on until September 22 this year and no more coins will be ever issued from then.

Dana debacle highlights need for unified Islamic finance regulator

A recent report from Standard & Poor’s said that Islamic financial assets had accelerated toward the end of 2016, but that such progress was unsustainable in the long term. The agency pointed out too that a lack of standardization was a barrier to creating a truly global industry based in the Middle East. The Islamic economy would continue to grow but at much lower rates than in the boom years from 2007 onward. It is against this background that recent events at Dana Gas should be seen. In 2013, the company issued sukuk totaling $700 million. Dana, which does a lot of its business in Egypt and Iraq, had problems getting paid in those countries. Earlier this month, Dana said it had received new legal advice which meant its sukuk were no longer to be considered Shariah-compliant. The Dana debacle confirms the belief that what is really needed is a much more standardized regulatory approach in the Islamic finance market.

The rise of Islamic fintech, global opportunities for #Bahrain

At the moment Islamic fintech is more of an aspiration than a reality. As the fintech industry and the demand for ethical investments grows exponentially, we are witnessing a want for the convergence of two. Seeing this space in the Middle Eastern banking industry, the Kingdom of Bahrain has entered a partnership with fintech incubator Singapore Fintech Consortium (SFC) and asset management and advisory firm Trucial Investment Partners. This partnership stands to initiate, nurture and sustain Bahrain’s fintech ecosystem while pulling from the experience of global industry leaders. Likewise, Bahrain has also recently opened a consultation led by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), with the aim of establishing a regulatory sandbox for fintech. It enables businesses to take advantage of the concentration of Islamic financial institutions and the consultation focuses on crowdfunding, including Shari’ah-compliant crowdfunding.

#Kuwait’s Islamic finance sector on strong growth trajectory, IMF says

According to a recent study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kuwait’s Islamic financial services sector is growing rapidly, with Islamic banking emerging as the most developed component of the industry. Islamic banks’ market share increased rapidly between 2005 and 2010 and has since then stabilised at around 38%. Kuwait’s Islamic banking sector includes systemically important banks. The largest Islamic bank in Kuwait accounts for 23% of total banking system assets, over 70% of the Islamic banking assets. The capital adequacy ratio and Tier-1 capital remain above 15%. The IMF report notes that the economic diversification effort could help drive further growth in Kuwait’s Islamic banking industry.

IMF warns #Kenya of loopholes in Islamic banking #regulation

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that the rapid growth of Islamic finance in Kenya is happening without adequate protection of depositors. Despite the fact that the Shariah banks are already offering loan products, Kenya is yet to refine its prudential regulations to cater for Islamic banking. Kenya is also yet to come up with a Shariah-compliant deposit insurance scheme and is continuing to manage deposit insurance premiums in a single pool for all banks. This situation could complicate compensation of depositors if a bank offering conventional and Islamic products collapses. According to the IMF, Kenya should seek to bring clarity to the grey areas in Islamic finance as it drafts amendments to the banking law as promised in the 2017/18 budget.

Islamic finance growth to lose momentum in 2018: S&P report

According to S&P Global Ratings, the Islamic finance industry will continue to expand this year, but will lose some momentum in 2018. Even though sukuk issuance accelerated in the first half of this year and will likely stay strong in the second half, S&P Global Ratings believes this growth rate is not sustainable. In their view, the current economic situation in core Islamic finance markets and depreciation of local currencies have weighed on the industry’s performance in 2016 and 2017. The report foresees a deterioration of GCC Islamic banks’ profitability in 2017 and 2018 as the cost of funding has increased and the cost of risk is on the rise. Sharia is still interpreted in different ways across the various Islamic finance markets. However, the industry appears to be going in the right direction with the proposal for central Shariah boards.

Bursa #Malaysia-I Welcomes Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd As Islamic Participating

Bursa Malaysia added Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd (Inter-Pac Securities) to its Islamic Participating Organisations (Islamic POs) list. Bursa Malaysia CEO Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan welcomed the new company and said that with this addition investors would have a wider choice of Islamic POs to represent them. Inter-Pac Securities Director Tan Mun Choy expressed his gratitude for Bursa Malaysia's approval to carry out Islamic stockbroking services.
With the inclusion of Inter-Pac Securities, there are now 12 Islamic POs carrying out Islamic stockbroking services of which 1 is on a full-fledged basis (BIMB Securities) and the other 11 are on a window basis.

Islamic finance overcomes teething problems in #Oman

According to a recent report issued by the Central Bank of Oman (CBO), the Islamic banking industry is growing at a faster rate than conventional banking, with Islamic banking assets up more than 62% year on year. Total assets held by Islamic banks and Islamic banking windows in February 2017 amounted to 3.27 billion Omani riyals (Dh31.2 billion), compared to 2.43 billion riyals a year earlier. This took Islamic banking’s market share from 5.1% in 2015 to 10.8% by February 2017. Islamic banking has a sizeable market share of more than 25% in the GCC. Saudi Arabia dominates the region with an Islamic banking market share of 51.2% in terms of total banking assets, followed by Kuwait at 45.2%. In UAE, Qatar and Bahrain Islamic banks’ market share stood between 20-30% of gross assets. In Oman, within a span of four years from introduction, the Islamic banking segment has reached OMR 3.07 billion in gross assets with a market share of 10.8% as of February 2017. The two main players in Oman are Bank Nizwa (BKNZ) and Alizz Islamic Bank (BKIZ).

Race to become Islamic banking’s #fintech hub

The Middle East has been a late adopter of financial technology, or fintech. According to Accenture, of more than $50bn in fintech investment globally since 2010, only 1% has gone to the Middle East and North Africa. Now several cities are racing to establish themselves as fintech hubs. Last year Cairo launched two accelerators and Abu Dhabi has created the region’s first regulatory sandbox, allowing new products to be tested for two years without full regulatory compliance. In March Abu Dhabi signed an agreement with the Monetary Authority of Singapore to undertake joint fintech projects and Dubai’s new fintech accelerator has already begun accepting applications. Bahrain, too, has teamed up with Singapore to develop a fintech ecosystem. Fintech can serve the masses of migrant workers in need of remittance services and it can also bring cheaper services to the unbanked. According to the World Bank, over four-fifths of the population in the region are unbanked, which means a higher proportion than anywhere else in the world.

Fitch: Deposits in #Morocco Islamic Banks to Grow up to 10 %

According to Fitch Ratings, Islamic banking products in Morocco could expand their deposit bases by 5 to 10%. Fitch notes that the ability to grow the deposit base is positive for Morocco’s economic development because deposits represent about 70% of banking sector funding. The experts also noted that banking penetration is already high in Morocco, with 70% of adults holding a bank account. Therefore, participation banking is unlikely to take a significant market share from the well-established conventional banks. Growth rates in the Moroccan banking sector have been volatile in recent years, reflecting unsteady economic trends. Deposit growth has outstripped loan growth, but credit demand is set to accelerate. The ability to offer participation banking services could broaden the pool of potential depositors in the country, mitigating the competitive pressure.

#Saudi Arabia's Sedco Capital launches #green #investment strategy

Saudi Arabia's Sedco Capital has launched an investment strategy combining environment-conscious and sharia-compliant principles. The move could help develop green investing in the Middle East and make Islamic finance appeal to a wider client base. Green finance is increasingly important for Islamic firms seeking to differentiate themselves from peers. Sedco said its new strategy, dubbed Prudent Ethical Investing, would focus on due diligence and transparency around investment structures, while integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. The firm launched two ESG funds in 2012 and has published research which showed how a combined investment approach
can outperform conventional funds. According to its research, such a strategy can lead to investments with lower financial leverage and better cash conversion qualities, adding a prudential element to those portfolios.

#Qatar has ninth-strongest Islamic finance industry

The state of Qatar lists rank nine this year on the annually published Islamic Finance Country Index. The index is part of the Global Islamic Finance Report 2017 and was compiled by London-based Islamic finance consultant firm Edbiz Consulting. Qatar’s ranking is testament to its solid Islamic finance industry which is built upon solely fully-fledged Islamic banks. The country with the world’s strongest Islamic finance industry remains Malaysia, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait. This is the second year in a row that Malaysia has been in the top position, taking over from Iran in 2016. According to Edbiz CEO Sofiza Azmi, in the list of 48 countries, there are 14 that saw a decrease in their scores. Among the 13 countries that improved their ranking, Tunisia took the biggest leap. Other big gainers are Pakistan and Kazakhstan. The report concludes that the ranking suggests that countries with large Muslim populations are the future frontiers for growth in Islamic banking and finance.

#NBKR and #Islamic Development Bank work on creation of a bank with #Islamic #finance #principles in #Kyrgyzstan

The National Bank of Kyrgyzstan and Islamic Development Bank are working on creating a bank with Islamic finance principles in Kyrgyzstan, according to the chief of NBKR, Mr Tolkunbek Abdygulov.
Abdygulov said in a statement, that developing Islamic finance principles will allow the citizens to use other types of financing, which will increase the competition between banks and thus improve the quality of bank services and bank products. “After entering into force of a new law on National Bank and banking activities, Civil Code will be complemented by regulations on deals according Islamic principles.”

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.

#Oman's Islamic banking assets reach RO3.3bn

Total assets of Islamic banks and windows in Oman reached to RO3.3bn at the end of March 2017. This accounts for 10.8% of total banking system assets in the country. According to Central Bank of Oman (CBO) statistics, Islamic banking entities provided total financing of RO2.6bn as at the end of March 2017 compared to RO1.9bn a year ago. Total deposits held with Islamic banks and windows also registered a strong growth to reach RO2.4bn in March 2017 from RO1.7bn in March 2016. The statistical bulletin said the financial position of the banks in Oman in terms of asset quality, provision coverage, capital adequacy and profitability remained sound. The gross non-performing loans as a proportion of total loans and advances stood at 2.1% at the end of December 2016. Private sector deposits, which accounted for 66.1% of total deposits with conventional banks, increased by 4.6% to RO12.6bn in March 2017 from RO12bn a year ago.

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