Islamic Banking

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#American #Muslims Grapple With Interest-Based Borrowing

Samantha Lord-Konare converted to Islam six years ago and then she found herself in a quandary because of a student and credit card loan that her new religion prohibited. Lord-Konare vowed not to use her credit card but resolving the issue of her student loan was more challenging.
She consulted the imam who presented her with four options. She could pay off her loan in one lump sum, obtain an interest-free loan, receive the money as a gift, or do her best to pay off her student loan as quickly as she could. "Of course, I had to choose the last. I could never ask someone for that amount of money," said Lord-Konare.
Islamic scholars say there is a clear prohibition on usury in the Koran. The Shariah also stipulates that Muslims should acquire wealth in a legal and ethical manner; any element of usury, gambling or chancing is forbidden.

#GCC sovereigns to lead emerging market #bond issues in #2017

GCC is expected to account for about 31% of sovereign bond issuances from emerging markets this year. The expected 2017 sovereign issues will be distributed among GCC, Eastern Europe Middle East Africa and Latin America, according to forecasts by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Issues from the GCC has been increasing rapidly mainly due to low oil prices, with some new issuers in 2016, and analysts expect the 2017 issuance to continue to be high. Among those, Kuwait inaugurated the external sovereign debt market with $8 billion (Dh29.3 billion) to finance a budget deficit resulting from low oil prices. Sovereign issuance for 2017 is forecast to be 6% higher compared to the previous year. In 2016, sovereigns issued $135 billion, mainly from Latin America, while corporates issued about $300 billion, mainly from Asia. Analysts expect gross sovereign external issuance to come in at $144bn in 2017.

#Merger of three #Qatari #banks to take six months

The merger of Qatari banks Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar is said to take six months to complete, Masraf Al Rayan’s chairman Hussain Ali al-Abdulla said lately. In December Reuters had reported that merger talks had begun which, if successful, would create the Gulf state’s second-largest bank. The new bank would have assets worth more than 160 billion riyals ($44 billion).
KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers have been appointed as merger advisers, along with law firm Allen & Overy as legal adviser, and furthermore the Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar. Masraf Al Rayan’s shareholders approved the issuance of sukuk worth up to $2 billion to meet the bank’s liquidity needs. In January banks had been appointed to handle a debut sukuk issue of around $500 million, banking sources told Reuters that month, but Abdullah said on Sunday the timing of the issue had not been finalised. Asked whether the bank’s liquidity had been affected by low oil prices Abudullah said “liquidity now is better than in 2016” and that the U.S. Federal Reserve’s raising of interest rates last month would improve the profits of Qatari banks.

#Kenya's #budget paves way for #Islamic #finance

Kenya's government has unveiled a package of initiatives under its latest budget to develop Islamic finance in the country, as part of efforts to mobilise local funds and set Nairobi as a regional hub for the sector. The moves could spur Kenya's decade-old Islamic banking sector and help the government fund infrastructure in a country where Muslims account for about 10% of the population of some 44 million.
Finance Minister Henry Rotich outlined the steps as part of the country's 2017/2018 budget, released on Thursday, aiming to level the playing field between Islamic and interest-based transactions. Amendments to the Public Finance Management Act will also allow the government to issue Islamic bonds, or sukuk, as an alternative funding source. This could prove useful for a government that has set aside billions for infrastructure, with a fiscal deficit set at 524.6 billion shillings ($5.10 billion).

Islamic bank to waive admin fee for #refinance customers

Al Rayan Bank has introduced a new range of home purchase plans (HPPs) to facilitate the move of an existing home finance product to the Sharia-compliant provider. The lender will assist customers by waiving or contributing to the fees associated with refinancing home finance to another provider. Al Rayan will waive the £399 HPP administration fee and the valuation will be paid by the bank, up to a maximum of £600, while the first monthly payment will see Al Rayan pay a cashback of £300 to the customer. The news comes after Al Rayan posted a 228% surge in home finance completions in January as it reported demand for Islamic finance was at an all-time high.

College to draft Islamic finance #curriculum

A #Kenyan college yesterday signed a three-year memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Malaysian training university to develop curriculum on Islamic Finance. Coast International College (CIC) also signed a letter of collaboration with the Inceif, the global University for Islamic Finance owned by the Central Bank of Malaysia. The MoU was signed by college principal Loise Gichuki, Inceif president and chief executive Daud Vicary Abdullah. The programme will offer Diploma in Islamic finance. The Malaysia University will provide curriculum, course materials and lectures related to Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic Law of contract, financial accounting and fundamentals of Islamic Banking.

Why #Islamicbanking is not working in #Russia

A year ago, when Tatagroprombank launched The Partnership Banking Center, many analysts believed in its success. At the moment, Robert Musin, one of the main shareholders of Tatagroprombank is facing criminal charges for alleged large-scale fraud. In addition to that, on March 9 the Russian parliament decided to reject the bill that would let Islamic banking fully and legally operate in Russia. Since 1997, several Islamic "windows" were set up, but most eventually closed down. According to Nina Mamedova, head of the Iranian sector at the Russian Academy of Science, Russia doesn’t have a well-developed legal framework for Islamic banking. She added that inspite of that, due to the growth of the Muslim population in Russia, some forms of the Islamic banking system will continue to exist in Russia.

Financial regulators keen on Shariah - compliant guidelines

#Kenyan financial regulators expect new guidelines in 2017 for the supervision of the entire sector. Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) supervisor Mary Nkiomu said the Islamic Finance Project Management Office established in December 2015 has submitted policy proposals to the National Treasury. The guidelines will enable the financial sector regulators to incorporate Islamic finance regulatory frameworks. Islamic finance institutions are largely operating in a self-regulatory environment governed by religious principles, backed with regulations for conventional operations. The guidelines, drafted in 2015, are set be rolled out to the public for consultations this year. The delay in the roll out has been attributed to terrorist attacks over the years.

#Morocco opens an Islamic finance window

Casablanca Finance City welcomes international businesses that have been flocking to Morocco to take advantage of its cheap labour, skilled work force and proximity to sub-Saharan Africa. Amid the uprisings that characterised the Arab Spring, Morocco remained relatively stable. Political and social stability continued after 2010, while the neighbour countries struggled. Adding to Morocco’s allure is the introduction of formal Islamic financial products, officially labelled participatory finance in the country. In 2017 authorities issued five participatory banking licences to Moroccan banks and three to international banks. As Morocco continues to roll out participatory financial products and services slowly and cautiously, the sector will remain a niche.

#Islamic #Banking Could Be Coming to the North Caucasus

The recently established International Islamic Business Association (IAIB) has announced plans to develop halal businesses and open offices throughout the region. However, changes in Russian legislation are needed to attract investment from Muslim countries. The IAIB was launched in the assembly hall of the Golden Ring hotel in Moscow on 16 February. One of the founders of IAIB, Samir Huseynov, said that lobbying to change Russian legislation and to create favorable conditions for Islamic banks is one of the main goals of IAIB. In contrast, former Russian Vice President Alexander Rutskoy, who took part in the launch event, said that he does not believe laws need to be changed to enable the operation of Islamic banks in Russia.

IMF acknowledges #Islamic #banking's prolific growth

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been a proactive supporter of Islamic banking and has declared it a priority for its operations in countries with Islamic banking. In a recent report titled "Ensuring Financial Stability in Countries with Islamic Banking", IMF economists have created a plan of action that would have game-changing implications for the industry. The report acknowledges the progress achieved in developing prudential standards, but concludes that the current framework governing the global industry contains many gaps. Particular attention needs to be paid to developing resolution, financial safety nets, such as deposit protection insurance and a lender of last resort, and liquidity management frameworks. According to IMF, the emergence of complex hybrid Islamic financial institutions and products is a regulatory challenge.

DFM adds significant risks in Islamic finance on #hedging #standards

Dubai Financial Market (DFM) said it has officially published the final version of its Standard on Hedging against Investment and Finance Risks. This standard is the newest addition to DFM’s Sharia-compliant standards, which include Standard on Stocks and Standard on Sukuk issued in 2007 and 2014. The key amendments and add-ons to the draft of the standard are adding two types of risks, property risk and reputational risk. The amendment also emphasises the admissibility of the penalty clause only in Istisna, supply contracts and labour-lease contracts, excluding the contracts that result in a monetary debt owed by the debtor. It also emphasises the admissibility of the third-party guarantee in contracts of partnerships, Mudaraba and agency in investment, provided no link is made between this guarantee and the contract of partnership or Mudaraba.

Qatar- Islamic finance making inroads into the #US

Islamic finance is increasingly making inroads into the US in a variety of forms, but widely out of the radar of the broader public. In the recent past, there has been a rise in the number of Islamic financial service providers. There are now about three dozen official Islamic finance providers in the US. Among the top institutions offering Islamic financial services in the country in terms of asset size are Lariba American Finance House and the associated Bank of Whittier in Los Angeles, as well as University Islamic Financial in Michigan. In terms of skills training, Harvard University has an Harvard Islamic Finance Program and the Franco-American Alliance for Islamic Finance is organising Islamic finance seminars this summer. On the consumer side, Islamic finance in the US is mostly prevalent in the real estate market.

Moody's: #GCC Islamic banks more profitable than conventional peers for second year running in 2017

According to Moody's Investors Service, the profitability of Islamic banks' in the Gulf cooperation Council (GCC) region will outpace that of their conventional peers for the second consecutive year in 2017. Islamic banks will maintain stronger margins in 2017, primarily as a result of their low funding costs, which reflect their reliance on stable current and savings account balances. Islamic banks also tend to have higher asset yields, given their focus on retail and the real estate related lending. Moody's expects that Islamic banks will retain a margin advantage of about 40 basis points over conventional banks in 2017. Moody's analyst Nitish Bhojnagarwala says conventional banks will continue to beat Islamic peers in terms of cost efficiency. Islamic banks are investing in branch network expansion, while conventional banks have already established their branch networks.

Islamic capital market can support financing needs

The #Malaysian Securities Commission (SC) released its SC 2016 Annual Report. The report states that the Malaysian capital market remains resilient and sustainable, growing in an orderly trajectory, attracting sound investor interest. According to SC chairman Tan Sri Ranjit Ajit Singh, the outlook for the Malaysian capital market in 2017 is positive. The SC is in capacity-boosting mode armed with several initiatives. These include launching the new Malaysian Code of Corporate Governance, the approval of RM5.95 million by the nascent Capital Market Development Fund aimed at encouraging new entrants into the industry, and the establishment of an Institute for Capital Market Research in 2017. This complements the initiatives by the SC in 2015 and last year, including the introduction of the first Equity Crowdfunding Framework in the region and a peer-to-peer financing framework.

Stock Exchanges of #Nairobi and #Qatar to Cooperate on Islamic Finance

The Kenyan capital markets regulatory authority and the Nairobi Securities Exchange today visited the Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) and signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for cooperation between the two exchanges. The two sides will share information and technical assistance in respect of processes and procedures relating to listing, trading, depository operations, clearing and settlement. Mr. Samuel Kimani, Chairman of the Nairobi Stock Exchange, said that his is a young exchange looking for further development and cooperation opportunities. Rashid bin Ali Al-Mansoori, CEO of Qatar Stock Exchange, expressed his happiness and hope that the MOU will help enhance the economic cooperation between the two countries.

London keen to maintain role as Islamic finance hub

Amid Brexit-fuelled uncertainty, London is trying to do its best to stay afloat as one of the most important hubs for Islamic finance in the Western world. There are now five fully-fledged Islamic banks, one Shariah-compliant hedge fund manager and one dedicated takaful provider in the UK. Also, there are over 20 banks providing Islamic financial services in “banking windows,” more than in any other European country. They benefit from the depth and liquidity of London’s capital markets, the large pool of expertise offered by specialists. Furthermore, the London Stock Exchange is a key global venue for the issuance of sukuk.
Experts say that one of the biggest drawbacks of Brexit for the entire UK banking industry will be the loss of “passporting” privileges that allow UK banks to access the single EU market without restrictions. Another issue is legal uncertainty for existing Islamic banks over to what extent current banking and financial regulations – which have largely been influenced by EU law – will change.

Islamic Banking: Bank Al Maghrib Interested in IFSB Prudential Standards

Bank Al-Maghrib and the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) co-organized a regional workshop entitled "Facilitating Implementation of IFSB Standards" in Rabat. The workshop focused on 3 standards for participatory banking: IFSB-15 "Revised Capital Adequacy Standard" on Prudential Capital and Solvency Standards, IFSB-16 "Revised Guidance on Key Elements in the Supervisory Process" on Supervision Standards, and GN-6 "Quantitative Measures for Liquidity Risk Management" on prudential liquidity standards. This event is part of the measures taken by Bank Al-Maghrib to finalize the regulatory framework governing participatory banking activities in Morocco.

#UAE Islamic banking assets reach Dh520b

Saif Hadef Al Shamsi, Assistant Governor at the UAE Central Bank, has said that total Islamic banking assets in the UAE have increased to approximately Dh520 billion in the past few years. Al Shamsi added that Islamic banking’ assets account for around 20% of Dh2.6 trillion of the total assets of the state’s banks. The assistant governor pointed out that UAE Islamic banking institutions account for about 7% of the total assets of Islamic banking around the world. This approximately amounts to a total of $1.5 trillion (Dh5.5 trillion). He further explained that Islamic banking deposits increased by 42% over the past three years and that lending by Islamic banks increased by 54%.

'Waqf' the next best thing in finance

Bank Indonesia (BI) announced recently its plan to issue waqf based bonds as a social welfare mechanism. The Indonesian Muslim Intellectual Association (ICMI) will also launch the very first waqf venture bank this June. Waqf may become the new trend in Islamic banking for several reasons. Waqf funds can be utilized for equity-based financing, a financial structure considered ideal for Islamic values, but undervalued in the current Islamic banking and finance architecture. The nature of longterm waqf funds for investment will make a good source of funding for venture capital and private equity. The amount of money potentially generated under a waqf system is indeed huge. The value of waqf land is estimated to reach Rp 300 trillion. This highlights the need for a professional and well-governed management to create a waqf bank that functions well and is successfully implemented.

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