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Why Islamic finance is insufficiently innovative

There are three possible explanations to the question why innovation might be slower in Islamic finance than in the conventional finance industry. These are the size of the industry, cultural factors and religious conservatism. First, the industry is tiny compared with conventional finance, Islamic finance assets are only 1.07% of total financial assets. Culturally, Muslim majority countries display much more respect for age and seniority than do locations like Silicon Valley or London. Finally, there is the question of religious conservatism. The rules of traditional Islamic law have always been derived from the original sources of Quran and hadith, and from past judicial rulings. Requiring all legal developments to be based on prior sources limits the scope for innovation. Mohammed Amin states that fintech can only transform Islamic finance if Shariah scholars are sufficiently agile in developing traditional Islamic law to accomodate innovation.

Business #schools feed hunger for courses on Islamic finance, aboriginal leadership

As the world of business is global, business schools are getting similarly global in their outlook. The need for a more diverse approach in business schools crosses all levels, from the makeup of faculty and the curriculum to the students themselves. Walid Hejazi, associate professor at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management stresses that diversity from a business school perspective is not so much a moral or equity imperative as it is about long-term sustainability. In his view, businesses that are diverse in their workforce are not only more innovative, they also work more effectively. Other business schools are following suit emphasising diversity on all levels. For example, the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University introduced an Aboriginal Business and Leadership EMBA program to advance aboriginal leaders’ business education.

Islamic Development Bank Group, UN Cooperating on SDG #Partnership Strategies

Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group President Bandar Hajjar and UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed identified priority areas for a strengthened cooperation. They also explored opportunities to collaborate on global, regional and country-level priorities to achieve the SDGs. The UN and the IDB will seek to develop private sector partnerships, advance the Global Islamic Impact Investing Platform for blending Islamic Financing and Private Sector resources, and promote institutional cooperation. Bandar Hajjar stressed that the IDB Group was fully committed to the SDGs, while Amina Mohammed underscored the importance of interactive partnerships with governments and of country-level results.

As #debt piles up, the old take from the young — Satyajit Das

A significant proportion of recent economic growth has relied on borrowed money, which stands today at 325% of global gross domestic product. Debt allows society to accelerate consumption, but the bill for these commitments will soon become unsustainable, as demographic changes make it more difficult to meet. Degradation of the environment results in future costs, too: either rehabilitation expenses or irreversible changes that affect living standards. Rather than reducing high borrowing levels, policy makers use financial engineering, such as quantitative easing and ultra-low or negative interest rates. A 2010 study found that European states have mortgaged themselves beyond their capacity to easily repay. Another 2010 study from the International Monetary Fund found that in the US the lifetime tax burden was positive for all ages, with the largest benefit accruing to those over age 50. But the figure for future generations is negative, meaning they will have to meet the obligations of their elders.

ABAC backs development of Islamic Infra Investment

The #Philippine team of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) has expressed interest in developing the Islamic Infrastructure Investment Program (I3P), making it a priority for the country. ABAC Philippines said it would look into how the Philippines can tap into the available funds from the Islamic banks in the region. The advisory council has identified infrastructure investment, areas involving people and labor, and micro, small and medium enterprise development as key priority areas for the country. For people-to-people connectivity, ABAC Philippines agreed to continue advocating for labor mobility and working on the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC). It will also work with the Department of Foreign Affairs on how to improve access to ABTC and to increase penetration of the travel card among Filipino business people.

Abu Dhabi builds a '#fintech bridge' to Asia

Abu Dhabi is taking ambitious steps to tap into financial technology. The Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) signed a cooperation deal with the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The goal of the arrangement is to spur financial entrepreneurship through mutual exchanges of fintech know-how. Last November the ADGM launched the FinTech Regulatory Laboratory, or RegLab, to provide a platform for foreign players to innovate. So far five companies have been selected to participate. Richard Teng, CEO of the emirate's Financial Services Regulatory Authority, said there was a clear trend toward cultivating sectors besides oil and the cooperation with Singapore is designed to make fintech the driving force of economic diversification. In his view, Asian financial companies have a big market in the Middle East to develop and explore business in wealth management, remittances and other fields.

#Dana Gas #venture #seeks #$26.5b damages from #Iraq Kurds

Dana Gas and its partners are looking at recovery for damages of at least $26.5 billion from Iraq’s self-governing Kurdish region for all delays in oil and natural gas projects. Dana Gas is based in the UAE and its partners in the venture named Pearl Petroleum, filed a petition in May at a federal court in Washington, DC, seeking “recognition and enforcement” of awards in a London arbitration case. The petition is part of a legal process that may allow Pearl Petroleum to seize Kurdish assets if the Kurds don’t pay awards decided in arbitration.
According to the Kurdish Energie Minister stated, the Kurdistan Regional Government “considers that the claimants’ approach in the arbitration is unconstructive and unnecessarily escalates the dispute. It will continue vigorously to pursue its rights and defend its position in all appropriate forums.”
Dana Gas and partners are pursuing claims in the London Court of International Arbitration against the Kurdish Regional Government for damages related to delays they say were caused by the Government in developing the projects.

#Dubai strategy centre for #Islamic #finance close to its #goals

A strategy centre that was tasked to implement a strategy for Dubai to become a global hub for the Islamic economy can report that progress was made on about 75 % of its initiatives to this date.
The Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, that was set up in 2013, stated yesterday it had held a board meeting on Tuesday which was attended by Sultan Al ¬Mansouri, the Minister of Economy as well as the chairman of the centre, to discuss these achievements.
The centre identified key sectors for developing three segments of Dubai‘s Islamic economy: Islamic finance, halal products and Islamic lifestyle including culture, art, fashion and family tourism.
The minister said: "Dubai and the UAE are instrumental in raising awareness about the culture of Islamic economy worldwide and boosting global interest in adopting its principles. The Islamic economy ¬strategy adopted by Dubai and the wider UAE is truly unique in its ability to foresee economic changes, offer secure investment options and utilise bonds to finance major projects across the globe."

Many teenagers struggle to understand money matters: OECD

The latest OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test shows that around one in four students are unable to make financial decisions. Some 48,000 15-year-olds took part in the test, which evaluated teenagers' personal finance skills. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said young people often lack the education, training and tools to make informed decisions on financial matters. Beijing had the highest average score, followed by the Flemish Community of Belgium, Canada, the Russian Federation, the Netherlands and Australia. Students who do well in financial literacy are also likely to perform well in the PISA reading and mathematics assessment. The survey also revealed that, on average, 56% of students hold a bank account, but two out of three students do not have the skills to manage an account.

#Oman To Sell $2 billion In Islamic #Bonds To Close Oil Crisis Budget Deficit

Low oil revenues are prompting the government of Oman to sell $2 billion in Islamic bonds to raise funds for the national budget. The hole in Oman’s national budget will measure 12% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, though forecasts predict the shortfall will decrease in coming years. Oman is also considering forging public-private partnerships to balance the cost burdens of nationalized industries. The country announced earlier that it would sell stakes in state-owned oil and gas downstream companies, but no concrete action has been taken. S&P Global Ratings lowered the monarchy’s credit rating from BBB- to BB+. As a response, finance minister Darwish Al Balushi said that Oman was confident of its economy and the country's reserves were still in a comfortable position.

Islamic Development Bank Provides #Jordan With US$100 Mln In Aid

The Islamic Development Bank signed an agreement with Jordan to provide the Kingdom with US$100 million in loans and grants. Jordan's Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury said that the deal included a US$79 million loan and a US$21 million grant, adding that the amount would be used to finance projects in the field of health. The minister also highlighted pressure on Jordan in various fields of energy, education and infrastructure since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011. The minister urged all countries to provide further support to Jordan to help it cope with the challenges, noting that such support is vital for Jordan. Between 1975 and 2017, the bank provided Jordan with US$975.6 million in loans and grants to support projects in various fields.

The IFSB releases the Islamic Financial Services Industry #Stability #Report 2017

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has released the fifth edition of its annual Islamic Financial Services Industry Stability Report 2017. The Report finds that despite subdued growth conditions, the global IFSI has been able to sustain its total assets value at approximately $1.9 trillion in 2016. The Report illustrates areas that could be further strengthened across all sectors of the IFSI (banking, capital markets and Takaful), many of which will require measured efforts by the national authorities to address the emerging risks. Secretary-General of the IFSB, Zahid ur Rehman Khokher, stated that Islamic financial services industry withstood the challenging operating environment. However, it moved away from the double digit growth trajectory witnessed in the previous years. He added that this slowdown underscores the importance of strengthening the resilience of the Islamic financial system.

ICD, stakeholders tackle opportunities, challenges

On the occasion of the Islamic Development Bank Group 42nd annual meeting, the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) organized a side event entitled ICD Clients Day. During the event, ICD seized the opportunity to meet with potential clients and stakeholders from private sectors. In addition, ICD presented its achievements in 2016 and awarded its Best Clients for 2016, namely Coris Bank International, Vitamed Medical Diagnostic Center and Al-Qadi Specialty Hospital. ICD general manager Khaled Al-Aboodi opened the session welcoming all the participants. Later on, Thomson Reuters presented the last edition of the Islamic Finance Development report. The event was a chance to share knowledge, to assess new opportunities and to network with the decision-makers, industry leaders and experts.

As #fintech startups drive innovation in the finance sector, the banking industry looks to catch up as demand for digital services increases

International banking group BNP Paribas, in partnership with startup accelerator Plug and Play, is searching for the brightest minds to develop innovative banking solutions. From June 9 to 11, the bank will host 36-hour hackathons across Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Luxembourg, Nanjing, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, Singapore, and Warsaw, open to startups with various fields of expertise. The Singapore hackathon is looking for startups focused on AI chatbots, natural language processing, data aggregation, and analytics. The hackathon will culminate in a pitching event where startups will demonstrate and present their solutions to fintech experts. The winners will get an opportunity to engage in a 5-month co-working phase with BNP Paribas and S$10,000 prize money. At the end of the co-working phase, selected startups will go on a final pitch event in Paris. The final winning team will be announced in December 2017 and will win a cash prize of 10,000 euros.

$453 million in infrastructure projects for Islamic Development Bank members

A total of $453 million worth of infrastructure projects for five member states has been approved by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). The approval was given ahead of its annual meeting of the Board of Governors on 17-18 May 2017 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. IDB also approved three special assistance projects worth $580,000 for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kenya and Rwanda. The President of IDB, Dr. Bandar Hajjar, underlined the role of infrastructure projects in order to accelerate development activities. He notied that the meeting addressed in detail youth economic empowerment and the significant opportunities created for youth through infrastructure projects.

Green #sukuk an option for #sustainability

The government of #Indonesia recently offered retail sukuk to the public to raise funds to help plug a gap in the state budget. From 2008 to 2017, the Indonesian government issued retail sukuk to tap into the country's growing middle class. In 2017, Indonesian retail sukuk became the highest sukuk issuance in the world, with a total value of Rp 31.5 billion (US $2.37 million). Despite its success, the total value of retail sukuk, corporate sukuk and conventional bonds is still considered small compared to the amount needed to finance priority infrastructure development projects. With the lack of a government budget, specified portfolios need to be explored. Green sukuk is a subset of sukuk that finances green assets. As green projects are relatively new in Indonesia, they need time to set up and engage with the nation's development plans.

#Fintech for Islamic finance faces standardisation challenges

Fintech has become a buzzword in the Islamic finance industry. Fintech has the potential to play a major role, primarily to improve processes and cost effectiveness while maintaining Sharia compliance. The need for more agile and simpler financial services, the growing usage of mobile devices and the shift towards technological and mobile financial services could underpin growth in the industry. However, there are also challenges. The principal challenge could be the regulatory environment. Regulatory limitations and concerns could hinder the ability of Islamic finance institutions to forge ahead. Fintech has its own cost and integration requirements to consider as well. This could push fintech to the backburner, which in time could turn into a significant hindrance to growth. Regulators and institutions have a significant challenge ahead in balancing the use of new technology to provide better services while controlling new operational risks.

Yes, #China is investing globally—but not so much in its belt and road initiative

China has become a major financier to the world. Last year its outward direct investment (ODI) totaled $170 billion and the overseas lending from its two policy banks added another $100 billion. One aspect of the overseas financing is China’s "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) initiative. This is President Xi Jinping’s idea of supporting infrastructure development in countries west and south of China. Beijing is hosting a belt-and-road summit on May 14 and 15, which 28 heads of state will attend. There are two main types of capital outflow that are relevant for OBOR: ODI, and lending by China’s policy banks, China Development Bank (CDB) and the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM). The top 10 destinations of ODI were: the Cayman Islands, the Virgin Islands, the United States, Singapore, Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Russia, Canada, and Indonesia. Of these, only Russia and Indonesia are along the belt and road. China is a very significant funder of infrastructure in the developing world, but it is happening everywhere, not just along the belt and road.

Firm Financing and #Growth in the #Arab Region

This paper provides a first analysis of the extent to which firms in the Arab region use capital markets to obtain financing and grow. It addresses two questions: First, how many and which firms issue equity, bonds, and syndicated loans in the Arab region? Second, how do these firms perform relative to non-issuing firms? Two main findings emerge from the analysis. Over the last two decades, the amounts raised in equity, bond, and syndicated loan markets have considerably increased. The typical issuing firm is larger, grows faster, is more leveraged, and holds more long-term debt relative to the typical non-issuer. The firm size distribution of issuers lies to the right and shifts more rightwards over time, indicating a divergence in firm size among listed firms.

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