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Ethis Group Comments on Receipt of Islamic Equity #Crowdfunding License in #Malaysia

The Securities Commission Malaysia revealed updated regulations as well as the approval of 8 new "Regulated Market Operators" serving the investment crowdfunding market. Best known for its impact investing in Indonesia, Ethis Ventures launched last year its Global Sadaqah platform and expects to launch its new Ethis Equity platform in Malaysia in Q1 2020. Ethis Group Chief Investment Advisor Maritz Mansor said they are very excited to have this chance to open up a new asset class to all levels and types of investors. Umar Munshi, Managing Director of Ethis Ventures, said SMEs and startups in Malaysia had few avenues for raising funds. He added that the Shariah-compliant alternative was missing and Ethis Equity aims to fill the gap. In Ethis Equity the minimum investment will be low which means that ordinary people can invest alongside professional investors.

Najib's SRC trial: Interesting use of Islamic banking facilities, inter-posed charitable trusts to break-up cash flows into discrete unconnected packages -evidence can prove problematic for ANZ's Shayne Elliot

Two diagrams published by the Malay Mail illustrate the cash flows relied on by the prosecution to prove the charges against Najib Razak. The diagrams reveal the use of Islamic banking facilities and inter-posed charitable trusts to break-up what can appear to be simple linear flows into discrete seemingly independent packages. These arrangements create problems for many, but especially the ANZ Banking Group whose management oversaw these transactions. ANZ CEO Shayne Elliot continues to distance himself from the problem, claiming that he was not a member of the AMBank board of directors when these transactions were executed, but in fact he was.

At fintech meet, Guan Eng says only Pakatan provides the tolerance needed for innovation to thrive

Malaysia's Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the country finally gained the tolerance element needed for digital innovation when Pakatan Harapan (PH) became the federal government. In his speech at the Securities Commission Fintech Roundtable 2019 the minister also cited a 2018 World Bank report that described Malaysia as having produced some of Southeast Asia’s most successful digital startups. He added that the government had also committed RM50 million towards a co-investment fund for ECF and P2P investments. ECF and P2P are two relatively recent developments in Malaysia that have opened up additional avenues of funding for microbusinesses and startups that may not yet qualify for traditional loans from commercial banks.

Islamic financing marketplace Alami bags funding led by Singapore-based tryb

Indonesian startup Alami has closed an undisclosed pre-seed round led by fintech investor tryb. The company’s peer-to-peer (P2P) platform recently obtained a P2P registration from the country’s Financial Services Authority and is set to soon expand its business into the Shariah-compliant P2P financing space. The fresh funds will be used for product development and market expansion. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, but the country's Shariah finance sector has historically lagged behind other markets with large Muslim populations. Alami CEO Dima Djani said tryb’s South-East Asian fintech expertise provides strong validation of its business model and key support for its growth plans.

Fixed Income: Bite-sized #sukuk with #blockchain

According to Matthew Martin, founder of microfinance investment fund Blossom Finance, technology will make sukuk issuance much cheaper and simpler as well as more available to investors and issuers. The potential for blockchain to transform the bond and sukuk space was noted by S&P Global Ratings last October. The rating agency wrote that blockchain and smart contract protocols could increase the transparency of cash flows and underlying assets. The World Bank created the first public bond to be managed using blockchain last August. According to Reuters, the prototype deal was as a step towards moving bond sales away from manual processes. Blossom will also use blockchain to record all transactions on the ledger. Currently, the company is selectively listing investors who want to be part of the pilot.

Inside one of the finest pieces in today's Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic world #auction

In May, Sotheby’s holds its latest Arts of the Islamic World auction. The auction includes a number of rare Qur’ans, including one exemplary fine and rare miniature Qur’an on vellum, estimated to sell at GBP 70,000-90,000. The miniature manuscript is an extremely rare and early example of Eastern Kufic script written in a vertical format on vellum. The size of the manuscript made for a considerable degree of difficulty, due to its intricacy and design.
The Qu’ran also has other rare features. Written in a special news script, it also adds dots to the script, which is rare for manuscripts of this kind, allowing the text to be read easier if the reader doesn’t know the Qu’ran by heart.

Islamic artworks go under the hammer at Sotheby’s

Some of the best examples of artwork from the Islamic world will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s on May 1. The auction includes a portrait of the great Ottoman Sultan, Suleyman the Magnificent, a landmark portrait valued at around 250,000 - 350,000 British pounds ($323,000 - $452,000). A rare example of an Iznik “Golden Horn” dish dating back to the 1530s is the most valuable piece in the collection and it is looking for a buyer for an amount between 300,000 and 500,000 pounds ($387,000 - $645,000). The collection holds many other pieces of artworks from India to Morocco and from Europe to Central Asia. The auction on May 1 will also be open to bids over the Internet.

#UAE aim to become regional Islamic art and culture capital boosted by Jameel Prize’s first exhibition in Dubai

The UAE’s status as a centre for Islamic art and design was boosted this past week as Jameel Arts Centre opened the Jameel Prize 5 exhibition. First awarded in 2009, the Jameel Prize is a collaboration between London's Victoria & Albert Museum and Art Jameel. Worth 25,000 British pounds, it awards contemporary artists and designers inspired by Islamic tradition. In addition to the two joint prize winners, Iraqi artist Mehdi Moutashar and Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum, the prize exhibition in Dubai is also showing works by the six finalists. They are: Iranian artist Kamrooz Aram, Jordan and Dubai-based graphic designer and architect duo naqsh collective, Iraqi-born painter Hayv Kahraman, Bahraini fashion designer Hala Kaiksow, Moroccan multimedia artist Younes Rahmoun, and Pakistani painter Wardha Shabbir.

#Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank to boost mortgage #lending

Al Rajhi Bank aims to boost mortgage lending as more affordable housing comes on the market. CEO Steve Bertamini said the bank's mortgage book grew 27% year-on-year in 2018 and it is looking for double digit growth for the next two to three years. Al Rajhi, which has traditionally focused on consumer banking, has been expanding its exposure to the private sector. It also sees opportunities in project finance as public-private partnership contracts for water and renewable energy start to be awarded. Saudi Arabia's economy grew in the fourth quarter of last year at its fastest rate since early 2016 due to an expanding oil sector. Fourth-quarter gross domestic product grew by 3.59% from a year earlier.

INTERVIEW: Gulf banking consolidation 'long overdue' - Investcorp's co-CEO

According to the co-chief executive of Bahrain’s Investcorp, Rishi Kapoor, consolidation in the financial services industry in the region is long overdue. Consolidation in banking would build the scale required to increase investments in financial technology, as payment solutions are increasingly enabled by fintech. The banking sector in the Gulf Arab region is seen as overcrowded, an M&A deal among banks is currently either in the pipeline or has taken place within the past few months. Investcorp’s co-chief also expects more M&A in the region’s disorganised retail sector, particularly in Saudi Arabia. As for the sectors that offer attractive investment opportunities within the Gulf region, Kapoor favours the sectors related to privatisation, social infrastructure and domestic consumption.

Financial inclusion of low-income groups a must for economic growth

Jameel Ahmad, Deputy Governor of State Bank of Pakistan believes that the newly adopted National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) will contribute significantly to the economic growth. He said the central bank and Pakistan's government have a firm resolve to reach the under-served groups. The NFIS would focus on the enhanced targets including Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs), agriculture, housing and Islamic finance on an extended time-line to 2023. By 2023 the NFIS aims to enhance the usage of Digital Payments to 65 million active digital transaction accounts, to increase deposit to 55% of the GDP, to promote SME Finance to 700,000 enterprises, to increase Agricultural Finance disbursements to Rs.1.8 trillion, and serve 6 million farmers through digitalized solutions and to enhance share of Islamic Banking to 25% of the banking industry.

ICD invests $230M in various sectors in #Egypt

Ayman el Segeny, CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) met Sahar Nasr, Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation. Segeny said that ICD's investment in Egypt reached $230 million, of which $75 million were invested in the food industry and $75 million in the renewable energy in Benban Power Station. Futhermore, Segeny noted that ICD participated in financing petroleum Services Company by $20 million. Both sides discussed activating the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the organization and the Investment Ministry on the cooperation to develop Egypt's infrastructure. Nasr said that there are vast opportunities for investment in Egypt especially in the Suez Canal Development corridor, the New Administrative Capital and New Alamein.

PM: Islamic banking players must invest in technologies

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Islamic banking and finance players must be intensely invested in technologies. He said the application of smart technology has positively disrupted the industry, however, the potential disruptions to traditional Islamic finance should not be underestimated. The disruptions can swing both ways. Dr Mahathir delivered his speech at the 15th Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum 2019. He said that Malaysia had spearheaded a number of innovative developments in Islamic finance, such as the issuance of the first Sustainable and Responsible Investment Sukuk and Green Sukuk, as well as the launch of the Investment Account Platform. He believes that Islamic finance can be a catalyst for the growth of green developments globally.

#Egypt to get $1bln for basic goods from Islamic Bank - ministry

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) will provide Egypt with $1 billion to support the provision of basic goods. The financing is part of a $3 billion agreement with the ITFC, which is part of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Egypt's economy was battered after a 2011 uprising ushered in political instability that scared off tourists and foreign investors.
Earlier this week Egypt signed contracts with two global banks to hedge against fluctuating global oil prices. The investment ministry said the ITFC financing was part of a new cooperation strategy between Egypt and the IDB lasting until 2021.

Will Global Fintech top guns help #Nigeria achieve 80% Financial Inclusion ?

Nigerian Fintech company Paystack has received an investment of $8 Million from Stripe, Visa, Y Combinator and Tencent. Over the last three years, Fintechs in the country have received funding, and that has increased steadily. Including Flutterwave’s $10 Million there was roughly $100 Million deployed into Fintechs. SureRemit, another Fintech raised $7 Million in an ICO this year. Over the last couple of years, more Nigerian Fintechs are being chosen for Y Combinator. All this activity and traction is also suitably backed by ecosystem players, policy makers and regulators. The rationale behind the investment from the Visa, Stripe and Tencent into Paystack is to help their expansion within Nigeria and to bring financial services to people who have so far been denied the opportunity.

Sharia Compliant #Cryptocurrency Exchange Sets its Sights on #Malta

Malta continues to take the lead in attracting blockchain and cryptocurrency ventures and now also in the upcoming Islamic finance scene. The new Sharia compliant cryptocurrency exchange Huulk has applied for a digital exchange license in Malta and hopes to partner with several European exchanges in the coming weeks. According to Huulk CEO Ibrahim Mohammed, Malta’s Bianchi Holdings would be an equity partner in the exchange. Bianchi Holdings Chairman Michael Bianchi is also involved in other blockchain and cryptocurrency ventures. The Huulk exchange is aiming to list around 20 Islamic fintech firms, some of which operate in Muslim-majority countries like Turkey and Malaysia. OneGram also plans to list its own sharia-compliant cryptocurrency on the exchange by mid-September. OneGram has sold around $400 million in gold-backed tokens over the past year.

#UAE Startup Launches First-Ever Sharia-Compliant Islamic #Crypto Exchange

UAE-based Adab Solutions has announced the launch of the First Islamic Crypto Exchange (FICE). An in-house Sharia Advisory Board (SAB) made up of independent international Sharia experts will be in place to ensure that the exchange is in compliance with Sharia law. In April 2018, Mufti Muhammad Abu Bakar declared that bitcoin is Sharia-compliant, and as such can be used by Muslims. The move potentially opens the cryptocurrency space to a global market of over 1.8 billion Muslims. Adab Solutions is preparing to launch the project ICO in September and tokens will be used as utility keys to access the exchange platform’s services. All commissions within the FICE will be paid exclusively in Adab tokens.

A second look at the performance of Shariah compliant share indices

The Shariah compliant index generally under-performs its conventional analogue before the global financial crisis years of 2007 and 2008, outperforms during the global financial crisis and then under-performs again afterwards. A conventional equity investor should perform better than a Shariah compliant investor, simply because the the conventional investor can pick from the entire universe of shares, while the Shariah compliant investor cannot.

#Fintech for Good – A feasible dream or just pretty posturing?

Many Fintech firms have sustainability and social impact at the heart of what they do. For example, Omisego has a Blockchain based use case, focused on Financial Inclusion in South East Asia. They offer users a mobile eWallet that runs on the OmiseGO decentralized exchange (DEX) to send, buy, sell, or trade fiat currencies, digital assets, and cryptocurrencies. Konfio focuses on unsecured SME lending delivered digitally in Mexico. Humaniq was originally based in Africa, and has most of its customers in the continent. The Bio-Id capability that Humaniq developed acts as the stepping stone for many in Sub-Saharan Africa to access financial services. The company has recently hit a key milestone of 400k customers across 16 African nations. BIMA is a Swedish-British startup, focused on providing affordable insurance to consumers in the developing world.

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