Islamic Banking

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Bridging Islamic Finance and Impact Investing

The 2017 Annual Impact Investor Survey from the GIIN showed that respondents committed more than $21 billion to impact investments in 2016 and planned to commit 17% more in 2017. Geographically, however, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) only makes up 2% of assets under management. Islamic finance is largely concentrated in three markets, Iran, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, but it spans nearly every part of the world. Globally there are largely untapped markets that show immense potential for Islamic finance, such as sub-Saharan Africa. There, the primary driver of the region’s Islamic economy is the need for quality infrastructure. For example, the Nigerian government recently announced the sale of a N100 billion ($326 million) debt sovereign sukuk on the local market, meant to fund road infrastructure in the country. The principles of Islamic finance and impact investing have many areas of overlap. Islamic finance can be a strong source to finance sustainable development in many areas around the world.

Asia ripe for Islamic finance as #fintech comes to the fore

According to Zahid ur Rehman Khokher, secretary-general of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), the growth potential of Islamic finance in the Asian market is much bigger than might be expected. He emphasized the developing role of fintech within the sector and the IFSB's role in setting standards. He noted the importance of Islamic microfinance in addressing issues of financial inclusion and improving participation in the financial sector. With the range of new services that are emerging, Zahid feels that capacity building is the biggest challenge at the moment. He feels there is a need for developing human resources and appropriate expertise within central banks, Shariah boards, as well as in commercial financial institutions.

DMCC and Dubai SME to develop Shariah compliant #trade finance #platform for SMEs

DMCC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dubai SME to create a web-based trade finance platform for SMEs. The platform will be Sharia-compliant and operate under the DMCC Authority regulatory framework. Present at the signing ceremony was Gautam Sashittal, CEO of DMCC and Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME. Gautam Sashittal said this cooperation between DMCC and Dubai SME opens a new avenue for funding and financing SMEs. Al Janahi said the SME sector in the UAE has evolved remarkably during the past decade chiefly due to support from the government. He added that this MoU was among a series of partnerships created after identifying the gap that existed in the SME landscape in terms of mobilising resources. DMCC is using Alternative International Management Services (AIMS) to make the platform Sharia-compliant.

#Bangladesh’s Islamic finance market in need for proper regulation

Bangladesh has a burgeoning Islamic finance industry focused on the retail market, but there is no comprehensive legal framework for the sector. Bangladesh has 8 Islamic banks and 15 non-Islamic banks that offer Islamic-banking services through Islamic windows. Currently, the Islamic finance sector in the country is led by Islami Bank Bangladesh which manages around 90% of Islamic-banking assets and deposits. Takaful is also growing in popularity. Bangladesh currently has 11 companies for both the life and non-life takaful market at a combined asset base of close to $1bn and a market share of 17%. The central bank has been working for considerable time on an industry-wide regulation to expand beyond retail banking. At present there are no regulations for sukuk issuances even though there would be huge market for both sovereign and corporate sukuk. Other challenges than the absence of comprehensive regulations are a lack of service diversification and a lack of a skilled workforce.

#Saudi Arabia joins AAOIFI, bringing potential boost to finance sector

Saudi Arabia’s central bank has joined the Islamic financial regulator Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). The move could increase cross-border financial deals in the region, as guidelines will apply to all financial institutions within Saudi Arabia. Both conventional and Islamic banks will now be subject to the same standards, potentially encouraging deals with other Muslim countries. AAOIFI Chairman Sheikh Ebrahim bin Khalifa Al Khalifa stated that the addition of the Saudi central bank would help foster closer collaboration with the kingdom. Saudi Arabia may now hold ambitions of becoming a global heavyweight in the Islamic finance sector. However, it will face intense competition from Malaysia, South Africa and the UK.

Dubai Economy launches Sharia-compliant #smart #programme

Dubai Economy in partnership with Dar Al Tawreeq has launched a Sharia-compliant smart programme to offer receivables finance to suppliers dealing with government entities in Dubai. Dubai Economy is the first government entity to offer such a financing option to suppliers. Faster payment will support businesses in growing sustainably and maintaining cash flows. Businesses working with government entities can use the smart software developed by Dar Al Tawreeq to ensure liquidity by obtaining financing on their invoices. The programme also provides easy access to on-demand working capital for businesses at no additional cost. The programme was launched by Khalid Al Kassim, Assistant Director General in Dubai Economy and Haitham Al Refaie, CEO of Tawreeq Holdings. The programme emphasises the principle of public-private partnership adopted by Dubai in its evolution into an Islamic Economy Capital.

#UK savers struggling to make money should consider Islamic banks

Islamic banks are becoming increasingly popular with non-Muslim savers due to their attractive rates and their ethical principles. In the UK, Islamic banks come under the same governance as high street branches and other private banks, offering the same statutory protections under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This scheme means savers get their money back if a bank or building society goes bust, although there is a cap of £85,000 per lender. According to Robert Parker, founder of Holborn Assets, with Islamic finance profit schemes, after-tax return needs to be compared between schemes to judge potential before making decisions on return rates alone. Islamic banks offer competitive rates, although savers will have to be prepared to tie up their money for at least a year to access the best deals.

Interview: How #Bahrain Is Aiming To Position Itself As A Regional #Fintech Hub

In this interview David Parker, Executive Director of Bahrain's Economic Development Board, talks about the kingdom's efforts to position itself as a fintech hub. He recognizes that certain regulatory requirements can make it more challenging for firms to experiment. To mitigate this, the Central Bank of Bahrain launched a regulatory sandbox to help enable innovation. A number of accelerators and incubators have also launched operations recently, including the region’s first cloud accelerator, operated by C5 and powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). When determining the structure of the regulatory sandbox, the Board was in close consultation with the industry. An agreement was signted with the Singapore Fintech Consortium and advisory firm Trucial Investment Partners to support the local Fintech ecosystem. The Central Bank also issued directives on crowdfunding for both Shariah compliant and non-Shariah compliant platforms and launched a national e-wallet.

MITI approves RM1.6b under shariah-compliant #SME financing scheme

The #Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has approved funding totalling RM1.595 billion under the Shariah-compliant SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) Financing Scheme. Deputy Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan said since the scheme was started in 2012, 1,181 applications had been received but only 971 applications had been approved. He added that the scheme would be administered by 13 participating Islamic banking institutions and the Federal government would bear 2.0% of the profit rate. The rebate is specifically to assist the SMEs which carry out business activities in all Shariah-compliant sectors. Ahmad said in Penang some RM112.6 million had been approved to-date to 76 SMEs which were Shariah-compliant.

FNB re-launches 10-year-old #Islamic #banking offering

First National Bank of #Botswana is re-launching products and service offering to the local Muslim community. Held at the Travel Lodge Conference Centre in Gaborone, the re-launch seeks to sensitize patrons and attract new customers. FNB Botswana CEO, Steven Bogatsu, said the re-launch has been long coming since the product was launched ten years ago in 2007. According to FNBB Islamic Banking Representative, Tahera Mhaisker, the offered services encompass transactional banking, vehicle and asset financing, as well as property finance for both residential and commercial properties. Mhaisker added that the re-launch was the culmination of an exciting journey for the bank.

Danajamin an unsung hero of Islamic capital market

In #Malaysia Danajamin is of national importance because of its role to ensure continued flow of credit in the financial system. It contributes to the democratisation of the capital market by giving financial guarantee insurance to companies that are raising funds from the market through the issuance of bonds and sukuk. Danajamin has provided credit enhancement guarantees for RM9 billion bond/sukuk programmes issued by 31 Malaysian companies across various sectors. These include guaranteeing sukuk issuances to finance the West Coast Expressway Project, connecting the west coast of the peninsula from Banting, Selangor, to Taiping, Perak. Recently, Danajamin has become the first financial guarantee insurer in the world to issue its own sukuk. The agency issued its maiden Tier II Subordinated RM500 million Sukuk Murabahah, with a tenure of 10 years and priced at a yield of 4.8% per annum on Oct 6. The demand from investors was so encouraging that Danajamin decided to upsize the issuance from an initial RM300 million to RM500 million.

#Russia's Sberbank considers Islamic finance entity, to propose regulatory change

Sberbank is considering setting up an Islamic finance entity and will propose regulatory changes to facilitate sharia-compliant business. Vnesheconombank and Tatfondbank are also developing Islamic finance products. Legislation will need to be passed in Russia to make Islamic finance cost-effective. Taxation is often an obstacle, as transactions have double or triple tax duties since they require multiple transfers of underlying assets. Sberbank is currently testing pilot transactions in leasing, financing food production and trading. Oleg Ganeev, deputy chairman at Sberbank, said the decision on whether to set up a separate entity could come by next year. He added that local businesses could also consider issuing sukuk, as they have a variety of tangible assets that can support such deals.

#United Arab Emirates: The Securities And Commodities Authority (SCA) Launched A Strategy For Islamic Capital Market Development

The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) launched a strategy for Islamic capital market development. The strategy includes the supervisory role played by SCA, the role played by self-regulatory organizations (SROs) and the challenges encountered. SCA's role is to issue legislative regulations for the Islamic capital market, updates on sukuk and capital adequacy regulations, the introduction of shari'ah board governance system and the organization of training programs. Markets' role is to issue provisions regulating trading securities, update existing regulations and develop investment indicators for Islamic securities. There are numerous challenges facing the Islamic finance market. They include the high costs of Islamic contracts, the increased complexity of Islamic products, the difference in perspectives of Islamic law and the availability of trained and qualified human resources.

#Mergers among smaller Islamic banking industry likely in GCC

There are several rumors about possible mergers of the smaller Islamic banks in the GCC region. According to UCapital, the relatively small size of Islamic banks is one of the compelling reasons for them to consider consolidation. However there is no compelling reason for a big number of regional banks to rush into merger deals. Banks across the region are facing pressure on profitability and tighter liquidity. The UAE, Bahrain and Oman would benefit from consolidation as many banks in these countries lack sufficient scale. A proposed merger of Kuwait Finance House and Ahli United Bank is expected to result in second biggest Islamic Bank in the GCC. Merger of Qatari banks Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar which was announced last year is progressing and is expected to complete by end of the year.

#Kuwait's Warba Bank part of IDB's USD 1.2 billion venture

Warba Bank announced that it will be partaking in a USD 1.25 billion five-year joint venture with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Warba Bank said that subscription for the deal had attracted regional and international financial institutions. The amount of issued bonds reached over 136%, around USD 1.7 billion. Warba Bank indicated that it would reap around 2.6% of annual income due to the deal. The IDB issued around 53% of the bonds to investors from the MENA region and Europe, while 47% of the bonds target investors from Asia.

#Malawi approves #Islamic #Banking, Sharia-compliant services

The Malawi government has approved to embrace the Islamic banking system, however not through fully fledged Islamic banks, but through the "window model" only. According to Reserve Bank Governor Dalitso Kabambe, bank supervisors will shortly be engaging with each bank to prove guidance on reporting requirements of Sharia-compliant products and services. Kabambe promised that as soon as the guidelines are developed, they will be shared with each bank. In relation to this, the Muslim Association of Malawi recently invited an expert in Islamic Finance who facilitated the meeting. The South African Mufti, Ismail Ebrahim Desai, a renowned scholar in Islamic Finance advised the government on issues of proper regulation and supervision.

Sultan Nazrin Says Relentless Support For #Islamic #Finance Is Critical

The Sultan of Perak State, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, spoke at the opening ceremony of the 14th Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum (KLIFF) 2017. He said Islamic finance has come far but there are at least six challenges at the moment. He said challenges at present include lower oil prices and changes in the global regulatory and supervisory framework. Sultan Nazrin said Islamic finance managed to cope better than its secular counterpart in terms of growth, albeit from a smaller base. Sultan Nazrin addressed the six challenges faced by the industry. In his view, the Islamic banking industry needs to improve profitability, the industry needs to maintain high standards of loan quality and corporate governance. Islamic capital markets need to grow at a faster pace, the negative trends of corporate issuances of sukuk need to be reversed. The Islamic equity market and takaful insurance need more development. Sultan Nazrin reminded that Islamic finance community must not be deviated from the objective of doing good.

Bank Negara: Islamic finance will focus on quality growth

#Malaysia is second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of Islamic banking in the world. Of the US$71 billion Syariah-compliant asset funds managed, 33% are in Malaysia. The country’s central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) continues to raise awareness of Malaysia as an international Islamic financial centre. According to BNM assistant governor Marzunisham Omar, the next area of focus is quality growth. The 16 Islamic banks and 11 takaful operators are seeing value-returns by embarking on initiatives through Value-Based Intermediation (VBI). VBI is a business strategy by Islamic financial institutions, driven by a desire to create value rather than focus on short-term objectives. VBI is a business strategy of the institution to drive growth and sustain growth. It is a collaborative effort by the central bank together with Islamic banking institutions. Today nine Islamic banks are already involved and the central bank is working to develop a value-based scorecard to measure the success of banking institutions.

#Islamic #finance climbs higher on UNDP agenda

The 72nd session of the UN General Assembly was held from September 19 to 25 in New York. The event was co-organised by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). It emphasised that the successful implementation of the SDG (Global Goals) require a significant amount of financial resources. The UNDP once more mentioned Islamic finance and how it could be tapped as a scalable funding source for global development. According to Magdy Martínez-Soliman, UN assistant secretary general, the gap in SDG financing is currently estimated at $2.5tn every year. He noted that official development assistance alone is not an adequate source of financing, but Islamic finance could effectively come to the rescue. As a key driver, the IDB has established the Global Islamic Finance and Impact Investing Platform (GIFIIP) to create the framework of the investing ecosystem. The GIFIIP’s role is also the matchmaking between Islamic finance investors and other players, such as business incubators, development organisations and inclusive business ventures seeking capital.

#Algeria: 6 government banks to offer Islamic banking by 2018

Algeria’s Prime Minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, announced that Islamic banking is to be approved in two public government banks before the end of this year and will be approved in four other banks in 2018. According to Ouyahia, this funding was inevitable because of the country's difficult economic and financial situation, and it will be limited in time because it will continue till no later than 2022. Algeria has about 29 banking institutions, seven of them are government-owned public banks, and more than 20 foreign banks from the Gulf countries, others are French and one is British. The Algerian government has applied Islamic banking in a limited way through the Zakat Fund of The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Wakfs, that was launched in 2003. The country has been facing an economic crisis for three years due to the fall in oil prices. Its foreign exchange earnings fell from 60 billion dollars in 2014 to 27.5 billion dollars at the end of last year.

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