#Malaysian fintech HelloGold is the first online gold platform to be endorsed as Shariah compliant by the Shariah Supervisory Board of Amanie Advisors. CEO Robin Lee showcased the savings platform at the global launch of the Shariah Standard on Gold at the World Islamic Banking Conference. According to Lee, with this platform everyone can buy gold and users are able to buy investment grade gold easily through their smartphones. He added that gold is a particularly good safe haven investment against foreign exchange risk and market shocks. Over the last 12 months, gold has risen by 17% against the Malaysian ringgit, 10% against the Thai baht, 9% against the Indonesian rupiah, 17% against the Philippine peso and 12% against the Singapore dollar. The HelloGold app is now available for use in Malaysia and is currently available on Google Play.
The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has successfully priced a $1.25 billion, five-year Sukuk under its $25 billion Trust Certificate Issuance Programme. The Sukuk was priced at par at 2.263%, to be payable on semi-annual basis. This issuance marked the Bank’s second benchmark issuance in 2016. In terms of the final allocation, the distribution was well diversified with 72% allocated to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, 25% to Asia and 3% to Europe. Central banks and official agencies were allocated 90% followed by 10% to banks. IsDB’s CFO Ahmet Tiktik thanked the member countries and expressed his hope that this funding will continue to support their developmental needs.
Islamic banks are gradually embracing socially responsible finance, from renewable energy to microfinance efforts, helping unlock new funding sources for environmentally-friendly projects, an industry survey shows. The two sectors have developed separately from each other, but green projects could benefit from tapping Islamic banks in countries like the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, where they now hold a quarter of total banking assets.
Around two-thirds of financing in Saudi Arabia follows Islamic principles, which forbid investing in gambling, tobacco and alcohol. This resembles the screening methodology used by ethical funds in Western markets. Green finance is increasingly important for Islamic banks seeking to differentiate themselves from their conventional peers, the Bahrain-based General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) said in a report.
Meezan Bank, Pakistan's first and largest Islamic bank, has recently signed a multi-faceted Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Shari'ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA), aimed at jointly expanding the role of Islamic finance through collaborations on various aspects of this field.
This comprehensive MoU further sets out a clear roadmap for research into the domains of Shariah and Islamic finance that should be facilitated by exchange of best practices in research and training. Meezan Bank would also be providing joint services with respect to arrangement of seminars, conferences, workshops and short-term courses.
While commenting on this agreement, Irfan Siddiqui said: "This MoU recognises the critical need for addressing the Islamic finance challenges through collaborations and partnerships in order to meet the heightened demand for Islamic banking products and services. The Meezan Bank is committed to develop and promote Shariah-compliant finance industry and we are quite hopeful that this agreement would enhance opportunities through increased exposure and knowledge sharing."
Britain's first Islamic law compliant stand-alone High Street bank has opened for the first time in Scotland.
Al Rayan Bank, formerly the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), which has just over 2000 customers north of the border, has opened an office in Glasgow. The West Midlands-based bank will not pay or charge interest and is founded on an Islamic financial model in which the customer and the bank share the risk of any investment on agreed terms, and divide any profits between them. The move north comes some 12 years after IBB opened its first branch on Edgware Road in London.
A bank spokeswoman said that a key reason for the move was that it was able to form a partnership in Glasgow with the Islamic Finance Council, the advisory and developmental body, with which it shares its office location in Fitzroy Place, Glasgow. Cabinet secretary for economy, jobs and fair work, Keith Brown said: “Al Rayan Bank’s welcome decision to expand its operations into Scotland for the first time highlights the real opportunity offered by ethical finance. This announcement reflects Scotland’s growing profile in ethical finance."
Reconciling accounting standards and religious principles is challenging the Islamic banks and their regulators as they adapt to new international book-keeping rules due to come into force in 2018. The new rules, known as IFRS 9, will leave their mark on all major products used by Islamic banks - from simple savings accounts to Islamic bonds - and impact their bottom-lines. Banks around the globe are gearing up to implement IFRS 9 from January 2018, posing a particular challenge for many Islamic finance contracts as they change the way financial assets are classified and measured, requiring lenders to book expected losses in advance. The problem for most Islamic financial products is that their accounting treatment can often diverge from the actual economic substance of a transaction, a key concept behind IFRS 9. This has prompted the Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) to set up a working group to look at ways to revise its rules
A Shariah-compliant Sacco that promises to cushion pastoralists from incurring losses during droughts has opened a second branch in Wajir town. Crescent Takaful Sacco (CTS), the first Shariah-compliant Sacco in Kenya, seeks to engage and provide financial inclusion to the poor in northern Kenya. The Wajir branch is the first outside Nairobi. CTS has various products tailor-made for the arid and semi-arid region such as the Mifugo Kash-Kash product that links pastoral traders to potential markets. According to the Sacco’s Chairman Hassan Bashir, livestock traders are eligible for up to 70% financing through the product. The product is mainly delivered using the Islamic contracts of Mudharaba and Musharaka. In both contracts, the profit share is pre-agreed upfront and a distinct profit margin is charged on each delivered transaction.
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) has signed an agreement with Turkey's Small and Medium Industry Development Organization (KOSGEB) to support SMEs. The group plans to provide $1 billion for Turkish companies. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by ITFC CEO Hani Salem Sonbol and KOSGEB President Recep Bicer. The MoU also examines the possibility of providing Islamic Trade Finance solutions to SMEs in Turkey. The suggested cooperation program includes developing joint programs for capacity building activities for SMEs in Turkey and Reverse Linkage Programs for transferring KOSGEB's know-how to other OIC member countries.
The financial crisis of 2008-09 shifted the world's focus towards greater accountability, enhancement in transparency, improvement in governance and a strict limit on leveraging. This has persuaded the world to look towards Islamic finance as a viable financial alternate. The asset-backed nature of Islamic financial transactions, in addition to the prohibition on speculative activities make it a more stable system than its conventional counterpart. Sukuk is being used by many developing countries as a tool of fiscal policy for economic development. Projects like roads, railways, airports and hospitals etc, are particularly appropriate for Sukuk financing. The Pakistani government has issued total 18 domestic Sukuk and three international Sukuk. The financing of infrastructure developmental projects can be achieved through issuance of Sukuk.
The Shari’ah Board of AAOIFI held its annual meeting from 17 to 19 November 2016 in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The meeting was concluded with issuance of a number of resolutions as well as the adoption of two new Shari'ah standards. The new standard on the Liability of Investment Manager defines the concepts of transgression and negligence and breach of contractual stipulations on the part of the investment manager. The standard also sets out the Shari'ah rulings pertaining to investment manager's liability or volunteering to bear liability. AAOIFI has also approved a new standard on Gold and it Trading Controls. The standard will be officially launched at a press conference whose date will be announced shortly. It will also be published together with other standards in the new edition of AAOIFI's standards.
Standard & Poor’s believes that in view of the fast growth of the Islamic finance industry robust Sharia governance structures are very important. While this model has provided an additional layer of control, actions requested by internal auditors are typically not disclosed to the public. So far only the authorities in Oman and Pakistan have asked Islamic banks to submit themselves to an external Sharia audit. The Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) have already made significant strides in this area. However, S&P believes the current governance framework shows room for improvement. Only a handful of Islamic banks disclose their profit and loss sharing formulas, profit equalisation reserves, or investment risk reserves.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said people in Turkey paid some of the world's highest interest rates, something which had to change soon. He said the overnight interest rate reached 7,500 percent after Turkey’s economic crisis of 2001. The Turkish leader suggested adopting the gold standard to combat international pressures. Erdogan also said he had no words on the central bank's independence but said that as a politician he had a responsibility to the public who were being hurt by high rates. Turkey's Borsa Istanbul and the IDB signed a strategic cooperation agreement which aims to expand Islamic finance in Turkey and other IDB member countries. According to the agreement, the IDB will explore opportunities for its strategic stake acquisition from the country's exchange operator, Borsa Istanbul.
The Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Finance Institutions (AAOIFI) is developing a standard for centralized sharia boards in order to regulate finances. The new practice may change a tradition of Islamic banks appointing their own sharia boards internally. Participants of the annual AAOIFI conference criticised the lack of a universal structure that would help clarify Islamic law on finance. Experts are now looking at conflicts of interest and how they can affect the industry. Centralized sharia boards would be independent from the banks, and would thus be able to provide good guidance and arbitration. Oman and Bahrain have already established these types of sharia boards. The UAE is looking at such a measure and other countries in the Islamic regions are considering the adoption of centralized sharia boards as well.
SGI-Mitabu, a joint venture of two Australian solar companies, The Solar Guys International and Mitabu Australia, has revived its plans to fund its Indonesian 250 megawatt solar project with Islamic compliant funding. SGI-Mitabu will offer its sukuk in Labuan, Malaysia. SGI-Mitabu's sukuk issue is set to be the first Islamic finance offering by an Australian corporate and could provide a useful example of alternative sources of capital to other companies. Companies seeking alternative sources of funding may wish to consider whether a form of Islamic finance would be suitable for their next project, even if they have to look outside their own jurisdiction to make it happen.
Pour permettre aux pays africains de régler leurs contrats de constructions de nouvelles infrastructures, il faut sans cesse trouver de nouveaux modes de financement. Les institutions internationales couvrent les deux tiers des projets, mais d’autres formes se développent, notamment à l’initiative de la Chine. Mi-novembre, le Sichuan Development Financial Leasing a annoncé qu’il allait vendre 300 millions de dollars de sukuk via Silk Routes Capital. Un fonds créé sur mesure à Singapour, piloté par des Chinois et une équipe de financiers internationaux. Une première pour la Chine dans ce domaine. Sur le continent, le Nigeria, le Sénégal ou encore le Soudan font de plus en plus appel à la finance islamique pour boucler les financements de projets ferroviaires et de gros équipements urbains.
Saudi Investment Bank closed a 500 million riyals ($133.3 million) Tier 1 sukuk sale on Monday. The subordinated Islamic bond was sold privately. The debt transaction will boost the bank's capital base and its capital adequacy ratio, in addition to diversifying the Saudi bank's funding sources and its maturity profile. The joint lead managers of the transaction were Alistithmar for Financial Securities and Brokerage and J.P. Morgan Saudi Arabia.
The total assets of the #Indonesian sharia banking industry in the third quarter of 2016 reached Rp331 trillion, accounting for 5.13% of the national banking industrys assets. Lukdir Gultom, Chief of the Indonesian Financial Service Authority (OJK), said the actual figure outstrips the target set by the OJK at 5%. He added that the OJK continued to encourage the sharia compliant financial service industry covering banks, non-bank financial institutions and the capital market. To date, Indonesia has a total of 13 sharia commercial banks, 21 sharia business units, and 165 sharia rural banks. The OJK will try to increase their number. Having a Muslim majority population, North Sumatra has the potential to become a hub for the Indonesian sharia banking industry.
The Reserve Bank of #India (RBI) has proposed opening of "Islamic window" in conventional banks for "gradual" introduction of Sharia-compliant or interest-free banking in the country. Both the Centre and RBI are exploring the possibility of introduction of Islamic banking for long to ensure financial inclusion. The central bank's proposal is based on examination of legal, technical and regulatory issues regarding feasibility of introducing Islamic banking in India on the basis of recommendation of the Inter Departmental Group (IDG). RBI has also prepared a technical analysis report which has been sent to the Finance Ministry.
Nasdaq Dubai and IdealRatings have launched a suite of indices tracking the performance of global Islamic bonds. The indices may serve as the underlying to future investment products including exchange-traded funds. To be eligible for inclusion in the indices, each bond must have a minimum size of at least $100m, a remaining time to maturity of at least three months, and must be approved by a Shariah accredited board. The Nasdaq Dubai IdealRatings Sukuk Index family comprises the Global Sukuk Index as well as several indices covering distinct segments of the market. They include investment grade issuances, issuances by sovereigns, issuances by corporates, issuances by financial institutions and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issuances. As of 1 October 2016 the Global Sukuk Index has returned 3.1% year-to-date and 15.2% since the index’s base date of 1 November 2012.
According to Fitch Ratings, Malaysia’s Islamic financing has maintained its double-digit growth in spite of the country’s moderating economy, with a 12.1% annual growth in the first half of 2016 (1H16). Although the growth was lower compared to last year, it still pushed Islamic loan share to 27.9% in the Malaysian banking system loan sector, versus 27% a year ago, as the sector’s expansion outperformed that of conventional banks over the past five years. Sukuk issuance also exceeded conventional bonds, with total market capitalisation rising to 62.2% by end-June 2016. Investment accounts expanded to RM36.2 billion by June this year from RM4.3 billion in July 2015, while Islamic deposits remained flat. Malaysia still leads the global Islamic finance industry in terms of regularisation, standardisation and sukuk issuance, accounting for over half of the issuances worldwide in 1H16.