Islamic Banking

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A new term is born: Shariah #fintech, and it has quite some potential

#Indonesia’s Deputy Finance Minister Mardiasmo said at the third Annual Islamic Finance Conference that fintech will play an important role in Islamic finance. Shariah fintech is a new buzzword to describe the venture of financial technology into Islamic finance. The status quo is that few Islamic banks have been open to adapt new technologies, but many scholars in Shariah boards are challenged in this particular case of progress meeting tradition. The result is that not Islamic banks are the drivers for Shariah fintech, but startups, entrepreneurs and inventive enterprises. In Indonesia online microfinance services are part of this new wave of Shariah fintech. Some Shariah fintech startups are focusing on agri-finance platforms, Islamic crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and mobile payment applications, while others are developing blockchain solutions for Islamic finance services, automated halal investment, trading platforms and robo-advisers.

Banks want 'costly' Islamic banking regulations adjusted

Banks in Uganda have petitioned the central bank to review key regulations in Islamic banking to make it less costly for the banks. According to Patrick Mweheire, the chairman of Uganda Bankers' Association (UBA), the current regulation requires that a commercial bank that applies to offer Islamic banking must have its own sharia panel comprising nine muftis. Mweheire suggested that UBA should instead have one panel which can be used by all its members when advancing Islamic banking products to the public. UBA CEO Wilbrod Owor said there were a lot of issues in the sector that affect them and need their attention: money laundering, terrorism finance, and digital technologies etc.

South America is on radar of Islamic finance

South America isn’t known to be a popular region for Islamic finance. However, there have been some activities to approach it as a new frontier. The first foray Islamic finance has made on the continent was into Suriname. Last year, the Central Bank of Suriname approved Islamic finance products and services in the banking sector and the first Islamic bank in the country, Trustbank Amanah, started operations on December 7, 2017. The other South American country opening up is Guyana. The Islamic Development Bank sees Guyana as a major oil and gas producer in the future when industrial development kicks in. In a first step the country received $900mn in financial and technical assistance from the Islamic Development Bank over a three-year period, commencing in 2018. The money will be used for development of Guyana’s economic infrastructure, the establishment of Islamic banking institutions is planned for later.

Why Islamic finance is yet to realise its full potential in #Kenya

Kenya's Islamic finance industry is over a decade old but is yet to realize its full potential. The uptake of Shariah compliant financial products has been adversely affected by the absence of supportive legal and regulatory infrastructure, lack of skilled Islamic finance professionals, poor perception and lack of awareness. One other challenge is the lack of harmonisation of the Shariah standards. Industry stakeholders need to undertake a comprehensive training of the Shariah scholars and enhance public awareness in Islamic finance. Aqeel Consulting takes the initiative to organise a technical workshop for the Shariah scholars between July 11 -12, 2018 at the Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club.

BoG must use Islamic banking to promote financial inclusion – Dubai Chamber

The Head of Dubai Chamber-Ghana Office, Cyril Darkwa, is encouraging the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to see Islamic banking as a way to promote financial inclusion in the country. Mr. Darkwa stated that this type of finance is being utilised by banks, companies and start-ups to tap into the large unbanked population in Africa. An executive member of the Ghana Muslim (GM) Ambassadors, Dr. Abubakar Muhammad Marzuq, said Islamic banking will be of great benefit to the country as a whole. He said although regulations are necessary to attract investors, awareness is more important to ensure a vibrant Islamic banking regime. He therefore called for effective collaboration between the Islamic banking industry and the media in order to create awareness.

Launch of #Malta Islamic Finance Association

Malta Islamic Finance Association (MIFA) was officially launched on 26th June 2018 by Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri. The present government headed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat fully supports and endorses all efforts for establishing Islamic Finance in Malta. Malta Islamic Finance Association aims to liaise with governments, quasi-governmental institutions, multilateral organizations, standard setting bodies, agencies and regulatory authorities. The Governing Council of MIFA has appointed Mr. Reuben Buttigieg as President of MIFA and Sheikh Bilal Khan as Secretary General of MIFA for the first term.

East Africa rides the Islamic finance train; #Uganda next to join

Countries in East Africa are increasingly joining the Islamic finance industry as their Muslim population grows and demand for Shariah-compliant banking and finance rises. In Ethiopia the central bank is planning to develop Islamic finance in order to improve financial inclusion, while Somalia’s central bank has given licences to six Islamic Banks and two takaful companies. Both Tanzania and Kenya have recognised the potential of Islamic finance, in Rwanda Islamic finance made its debut in 2016 with an Islamic microfinance Institution. Only Burundi, South Sudan and Eritrea don’t have ambitions to set up Islamic banks. The latest regional entrant in the Islamic finance sector is Uganda. Finance minister Patrick Ocailap said that a framework for the implementation of Islamic banking in the country has been developed and will be operational by October 2018.

AIFC: Development of Islamic Finance

Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) aims to be the driver of the Islamic finance development in Kazakhstan. For this, the AIFC is strengthening its capacity building by establishing the Bureau for Continuing Professional Development. AIFC managing director Yernur Rysmagambetov said two programs habe been launched. One of them is aimed at the training of specialists for the banking sector. The second program is focused on literacy of the end users on Islamic finance. The corporate sector is the main customer of the Islamic banks in Kazakhstan. Attraction of the retail customers in the Islamic finance is another trend of the past years.

#Morocco's Islamic 'Participatory' Banks: 71 Agencies and MAD 1.1 Billion in Loans

Since the launch of Islamic 'participatory' banks in July 2017, more than 71 agencies have joined the non-interest banking program throughout Morocco. Abdellatif Jouahri, the governor of Bank Al Maghrib (Morocco’s central bank), said the participatory banks have granted a total of MAD 1.1 billion in loans. Jouahri highlighted the special interest that murabaha is especially attractive for both real estate and automobile customers. The governor stressed that Morocco is preparing to issue its first sukuk in July 2018, which will complement the services offered by participatory banks. While the order approving the takaful circular has already been finalized, the legislative texts are still being finalized.

ESG podcast: Securities Commission #Malaysia outlines plans for green Islamic finance (part 2)

In this podcast Zainal Izlan Zainal Abidin of Securities Commission Malaysia speaks about the country's strategy for socially responsible and sharia-compliant investing. He talks about the challenges in making Malaysia a global Islamic finance centre. He sees great potential for Malaysia as it rolls out new products, such as a sukuk ETF. Zainal believes the gradual harmonizing of Sharia definitions will fuel more cross-border transactions between Malaysia and the Middle East.

We can’t wait for Islamic Banking - bankers

In #Uganda more than half of the 24 licensed conventional banks have expressed interest in providing Islamic banking products. The latest to show interest is EXIM Bank. Raj Banerjee, the deputy chief executive of EXIM bank, said they cannot wait to offer this service to their wide range of customers. At the moment they are going about installing the software and assembling a team that will be directly involved offering the Islamic Banking. Mr Banerjee believes this will be good for everybody. The bank is preparing to launch its Sharia compliant products as soon as the proposals are approved by the Bank of Uganda.

Group roots for deepening of Islamic finance

In #Kenya a lobby group has called for the review of regulations governing Islamic banking and Sharia'h compliant products offered by conventional banks so as to resolve the issue of interest rates. The group, Bayt-ul-Maal has commenced gathering signatures to petition Kenyan Muslims scholars to deliberate and craft a modern day Bayt-ul-Maal (Islamic Treasury) catering for the needs of Muslims. They embarked on a door-to-door campaign sensitizing the Muslim community on the importance of Bayt-ul-Maal. The group claims that since February this year debate has raged concerning the validity of Islamic banking and Sharia'h Compliant windows, as offered by some conventional banks.

Muslims demand Islamic banking

The Muslim community of Uganda asked the Government to speed up the process of providing regulations for Islamic banking. According to Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, the laws for Islamic banking have been passed but Bank of Uganda is reluctant to draft the regulations as well as issuing licenses for Islamic banking. Financial experts have often criticised Islamic banking for higher creating costs and bigger risks, a situation that has not been remedied over the years. The lack of unique frameworks by the Government to regulate Islamic banking is the other challenge, leaving the Islamic banks to be regulated as other conventional banks.

#Uzbekistan set to develop Islamic banking system

Uzbekistan is joining the rising number of Central Asian nations to develop a Shariah-compliant banking system given its large Muslim population. This month, the Uzbek government issued a draft resolution to create infrastructure for Islamic banking and finance in the country. The aim is to create alternative financing opportunities in the former Soviet republic and open the doors for Islamic investors from the Middle East and Southeast Asia. To that end, the central bank has been tasked with developing a legal and regulatory framework not just for Islamic banking, but also for Takaful and securities trading, as well as financing for small and medium enterprises and Halal microfinance. The framework will include the launch of the Islamic Development Bank of Uzbekistan (IDBU), which will provide standard retail banking services, trade financing, property and commercial real estate financing, as well as leasing, Takaful and securities services.

Islamic finance feels heat from $700mn Dana saga

Global standards are likely to become more explicit and a shift to centralised regulation may accelerate after Dana Gas reached a conditional deal with creditors on its contested $700mn sukuk issue. Dana shook the industry last June, saying it would not redeem its sukuk on maturity. It proposed swapping them for new sukuk with lower profit rates. The original sukuk used a mudaraba structure, which Dana said had fallen into disuse. Investors have been worried by the prospect of other issuers avoiding redeeming their sukuk by saying conditions have changed. According to Akram Laldin, deputy chairman of the Malaysian central bank, the Dana saga had strengthened the case for setting up centralised bodies that could approve Islamic contracts and rule on disputes. The Dana case appears to mean the end of the old mudaraba sukuk structure, criticised as un-Islamic by some scholars due to features such as guarantees on principal and fixed returns.

Deloitte launches new Islamic finance insights series

Deloitte’s Islamic Finance Knowledge Center (IFKC) in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (CISI), UK published its latest whitepaper entitled "Scalable and sustainable source of funding social infrastructure". The success of infrastructure projects in using Islamic finance has inspired investors in countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Malaysia to seek pursuing sustainable funding through Islamic finance. According to Dr. Hatim El Tahir, Director of Islamic finance at Deloitte, this whitepaper developed practical analysis and forward thinking thoughts as how Islamic finance can play its natural role in this pivotal sector of economy. The analysis suggests there should be continued industry dialogue between practitioners, policy makers, regulators and market participants, to articulate and assess suitable investment and funding structures.

Asia’s Islamic finance industry growing stronger by the year

The Malaysia International Islamic Finance Center (MIFC) published in cooperation with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) the latest report entitled “Islamic finance in Asia: Reaching new heights”. According to the report, Asia’s Islamic finance assets registered an annual growth of 8.4% between 2011 and 2016 and stood at $528.7bn, or 26% of the world’s Shariah-compliant financial assets, at the end of 2017. Furthermore, Asia has grown to the largest market for sukuk. $52.3bn or 52.5% of all newly issued sukuk came from Asia in 2017, with most notable contributors being Hong Kong, Indonesia and Pakistan. The region also has a global market share of 60.7% of sukuk outstanding and is market leader in Islamic funds. The report states that Malaysia, Bangladesh, Brunei and Indonesia are currently among the most developed Islamic banking jurisdictions in Asia.

#Afghanistan enlists faith-based banks to aid financial inclusion

Afghanistan hopes its first Islamic bank will attract more customers and improve access to financial services in the country. The central bank granted its first Islamic license last month and is now developing wealth management products and new digital banking services. There are currently six banks that offer sharia compliant products through so-called Islamic windows and their conversion would require setting up an internal sharia board and having a clean bill of health. The latter may be a challenge for some because of difficulties in converting impaired loans into Islamic equivalents. The government is also working on legislation that would allow for the issuance of sukuk, although such plans are still at a preliminary stage.

Islamic Banking on the Blockchain, Hada DBank, Releases Token Sale Structure

The first blockchain-powered Islamic Bank, Hada DBank, has launched its token sale on May 1st, 2018. HADA DBank is a platform aimed at providing Islamic banking methodology. The platform offers a maximum liability to asset at a ratio of 1:3. Hada DBank aims to design and develop an Exchange platform offering a No fee policy on both cryptocurrency and non crypto-related transactions. The bank will also provide its users with physical and virtual debit cards, inclusive of cashback and discount schemes with merchants and affiliate partners. Users can gain full access to Bot HUDA, a bot in charge of financial management, while artificial intelligence, HADI, will be a personal financial advisor to the platform’s clients. Hada DBank has pegged the soft cap of its Token Generation Event at 5,000 ETH and hard cap at 30,000 ETH. The first set of 1,000,000 HADACoins will be distributed at 3,000 HADA per 1 ETH at a minimum contribution of 0.15 ETH.

#Turkey holds great potential for Islamic finance

According to Abdelilah Belatik, secretary general of the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), Turkey's potential for Islamic banks is very big. Turkey has three participation banks, Al Baraka, Kuwait Turk, and Turkiye Finans, which are operating overseas already. Turkey's Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) started developing comprehensive regulations for participation banks. Belatik said countries like Bahrain and Malaysia have developed their entire system of infrastructure for Islamic finance, which is very important for the development of the industry. This year, CIBAFI chose Turkey to host its annual Global Forum. The Forum is focusing on how the industry will fulfill its obligations while remaining competitive and relevant within global financial markets.

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