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#Kazakhstan: Will Astana’s financial gamble pay off?

With the official opening of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), Kazakhstan aims to become the region’s main financial hub. The aspiration is for the center to draw $40 billion in finance by 2025 and in the process rebrand oil-rich Kazakhstan as a financial hotspot. However, at the moment it is very much a work in progress. The stock exchange is not yet trading. According to AIFC chief executive Kairat Kelimbetov, the center will operate according to English common law. A court staffed with English barristers and an arbitration center will be available for dispute resolution. But the sobering reality is that of the 49 companies registered at the AIFC, most are no-names. The mightiest player registered at the AIFC is the China Development Bank, a fact that signals a welcome vote of confidence from Beijing.

Shariah #Fintech – A Case Study of #Indonesia

Fintech has permeated the Islamic banking industry and this development is particularly evident in Indonesia. In July 2018, the country's deputy finance minister Mardiasmo plugged the term "Shariah fintech" in reference to financial technology that is compliant with Islamic laws and beliefs. The market share of Islamic finance remains at less than 5% of the total finance and banking market. There is tremendous potential, but there are some impediments blocking its growth. One is the presumption that certain fintech tools might not be compliant with Shariah law. Cryptocurrency was initially deemed as a violation of Shariah principles. However, in April 2018, Muslim scholar Muhammad Abu-Bakar, released a study exploring the functionalities of Bitcoin, concluding that it did indeed meet the requirements. Indonesia’s OJK (Financial Services Authority) is releasing a new set of regulations to govern the country’s fintech scene, set to come into effect in August 2018. These rules will extend to Shariah-compliant fintech tools as well.

BNM introduces Rahn policy document

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has issued the Rahn policy document which is aimed at strengthening the practice among Islamic financial institutions to offer services that are end-to-end Shariah-compliant. BNM stated that the subject matter of the Rahn contract shall be collateral that is recognised by Shariah and Shariah-compliant liability or obligation owing to the pledgee. It added that the collateral must be owned either by the obligor, a third party, or the obligor and a third party. BNM said the collateral shall be immediately possessed by the pledgee upon entering into the Rahn contract unless a pledgee approves a delay in possession. A Rahn contract is applicable with contracts including qard, murabahah, tawarruq, baiinah, istisna, ijarah, kafalah, mudarabah, musyarakah, wakalah bi al-istithmar, and wad as well as takaful coverage.

Do Shariah compliant shares perform better?

During the global financial crisis many experts pointed out that Shariah compliant shares had performed much better than those which were not. However, once the world emerged from the crisis, the Shariah All-World index has consistently underperformed its conventional counterpart. A conventional investor who is selecting shares from the complete universe of shares will, on average, outperform a Shariah compliant investor who selects shares only from the Shariah compliant subset of the universe. The conventional investor is always free to buy high quality Shariah compliant shares, but the Shariah compliant investor can never buy high quality non-Shariah compliant shares. This is simply a fact of life to be accepted.

AAOIFI holds public event

The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) held a public hearing of two of its standards hosted by Banque du Liban (BDL) (Central bank of Lebanon) in Beirut, Lebanon. AAOIFI also held its 10th meeting of the AAOIFI Accounting Board (AAB), where the Board deliberated on the Exposure Draft on Ijarah and Ijarah Muntahia Bittamleek, and the Standards Review and Revision Project. Several public hearings for AAOIFI standards have earlier taken place in Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and future public hearings will be held during 2018 in different parts of the world to obtain industry feedback on other exposure drafts already issued by AAOIFI.

New Saudi bankruptcy law 'tries to find balance' between investor and creditor interest

Saudi Arabia’s new bankruptcy law will come into effect in late August and aims to attract foreign and domestic investment in private businesses. The new law is designed to outline bankruptcy proceedings and will offer protection to creditors and embattled companies seeking to conduct their affairs without fear of asset seizure. According to lawyer Dario Najm, an associate in Ahmad bin Hezeem & Associates, the new law allows indebted corporations to maintain their operations while gradually settling their debts. Creditors and debtors will enter into agreements on debt payment schedules. When implemented, the law will be the sole regulation covering bankruptcy, effectively replacing previous rules passed in 1996.

Apply for Islamic Development Bank undergraduate scholarship by 21 August

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) announced the availability of scholarships for Muslim Community in India to pursue undergraduate studies in India. The scholarship may cover tuition fees and/or monthly stipends, books & clothing allowance and medical coverage through public or university sponsored hospitals. Major fields at undergraduate level include Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Engineering, Agriculture, Information Technology, Economics, Education, Psychology and Learning, Education Policy and International Development.

#Maldives launch first Islamic finance magazine: ‘Laaba’ to act as a platform to engage regional & global industry developments

Maldives Center for Islamic Finance (MCIF) has launched Laaba, the first publication in the archipelago dedicated to Islamic finance. The magazine aims to be the first platform in South Asia to bring together regional hubs with global partners in engaging knowledge and sharing ideas. The first issue has embraced the theme of responsible and ethical finance and how this is aligned with Islamic finance. Laaba also includes exclusive interviews with CEOs across Maldives financial institutions, including the Maldives Islamic Bank, Maldives Capital Markets Development Authority and Amana Takaful.

#Saudi securities regulator awards first two #fintech licences

Saudi Arabia's securities regulator approved its first two financial technology licences on Tuesday. The Capital Market Authority (CMA) approved licences allowing Manafa Capital and Scopeer to offer crowdfunding investment services on a trial basis. Individual investors will use electronic platforms operated by the companies to fund small and medium-sized enterprises in exchange for shares in those enterprises. The CMA said it would receive applications for more fintech licences later this year. The Saudi central bank has also thrown its weight behind fintech, as it signed a deal with U.S.-based Ripple in February this year.

$3 trillion sovereign wealth funds agree framework for vetting asset managers climate credentials

Sovereign wealth funds (SWF) from Norway, New Zealand and the Middle East have drawn up a framework to better target their collective efforts on climate change. The agreed principles advocate integrating climate considerations into their investment processes, as well as make recommendations for manager selections and participating in financial markets. The One Planet SWF Group consists of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Kuwait Investment Authority, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, Norges Bank Investment Management of Norway, the Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Qatar Investment Authority, who collectively manage over $3 trillion in assets.

Why #Malaysian bonds are set to attract investors despite emerging-market jitters

With the improving quality of issuances, Malaysia is set to attract more investments into its growing bond market, say panellists at The Asset Malaysia Issuers and Investors Leaders Dialogue in Kuala Lumpur.

#Germany and Islamic Development Bank support Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem

Cancer patients from the Palestinian territories can soon benefit from a new modern diagnosis apparatus, financed by Germany and the Islamic Development Bank. The Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem received a PET/CT scanner which allows modern cancer diagnosis. Mr. Peter Beerwerth, the German Representative in Ramallah praised the valuable work the AVH is doing. AVH, managed by the Lutheran World Federation, is the first and only hospital to provide special therapies in the Palestinian territories. Here, about 1.800 patients are treated yearly. Germany contributed an amount of 1,2 million USD for the PET/CT system. The Islamic Development Bank contributed some 400.000 USD.

ACC sues Al-Arafah Islami Bank director

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed a case against an incumbent director of Al-Arafah Islami Bank for allegedly laundering Tk 1.68 crore in Singapore. ACC filed the case against Badiur Rahman, who was also chairman of the bank's board of directors between 2008 and 2016. Badiur set up the company Ariel Maritime in Singapore with three directors. Badiur's invested capital was SGD 25,000 in 2003 and he has been operating the company since then. His investment increased to SGD 0.5 million, equivalent to Tk 1,68,38,800. According to ACC, Badiur could not show any acceptable documents to prove legitimacy of the source of income that he invested in the company. To conceal the source of income, he misused his power as a director and secretly transferred the money.

Executive #education : Dauphine #Tunis se lance dans la finance islamique

L’Université Dauphine Tunis lance un executive master intitulé "Principes et pratiques de la finance islamique". La première promotion se déroulera de janvier à juillet 2019 pour 420 heures de cours, en anglais, en français et, pour partie, en arabe. Le programme se divise en cinq modules: principes de la finance islamique, principes et pratiques de la banque commerciale islamique, principes et pratiques de l’investissement et du financement de projets en finance islamique, principes et pratiques de la gestions d’actifs islamistes et de l’assurance Takaful et enseignements complémentaires. Les enseignements seront dispensés par l’équipe pédagogique de l’Université Paris Dauphine, menée par les co-directeurs Kader Merbouh et Kaouther Jouaber-Snoussi.

Green finance to fund #Indonesia’s new development projects

Indonesia, one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, is turning to green finance markets to fund new development projects. In February, the Indonesian government issued $1.25 billion as the first sovereign green sukuk in the world. The first corporate green sukuk was issued by a Malaysian company in July last year. The Indonesian Tropical Landscapes Finance Facility (TLFF) issued a $95 million sustainability bond to finance rubber plantations in Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo. However, Indonesia did not provide investors with a specific list of projects it was seeking to fund through the green sukuk. The opacity in implementing sustainable criteria is not uncommon in the global green bond market.

Islamic Development Bank seeks tie-ups for infrastructure investments

Islamic Development Bank president Bandar Hajjar said the bank was exploring joint opportunities with other multilateral development banks to invest in India’s infrastructure sector. India plans to invest as much as ?5.97 trillion in creating and upgrading infrastructure in the current financial year. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is setting in play a new integrated infrastructure programme that involves building of roads, railways, waterways and airports. For this, India has sought project financing totalling $2.4 billion from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Also, the Asian bank will invest $200 million in India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).

Deloitte Islamic Finance insights series

This series of Islamic finance insights discusses social infrastructure trends and the value proposition of an alternative Sharia’- compliant funding model, which resembles sustainable finance, shares guidelines of responsible investment and sound governance practices. The study emphasizes and reflects on the collective views of an industry forum organized by Deloitte Middle East and supported by Deloitte UK, held last November in London. The paper defines the key enablers and influencers of building an effective Islamic finance. It also analyses the impact of this model in light of regulatory, market practice and governance requirements.

Opinion: Why there's no better time for GCC's #fintech revolution

As financial technologies continue to develop, one region in particular stands to benefit: the Gulf. This isn’t a revolution that is far off, it is happening today. For the countries of the GCC, fintech couldn’t arrive at a better time. The countries of the Gulf are all working to diversify their economies away from a dependence on fossil fuels. Bahrain has already launched its FinTech Bay, which has the mission of accelerating local early-stage fintech companies, as well as foreign companies to establish regional offices in Bahrain. In September this year DIFC’s FinTech Hive will launch the second edition of its accelerator programme for fintech innovators. The 2018 edition has also been expanded to include "insurtech", as well as Islamic finance and regulatory technology ("regtech") solutions.

Better late than never? #Brunei and its role in the #Fintech revolution

Singapore battles with Australia and Hong Kong to be the region’s leading Fintech hub. She has moved ahead of her Southeast Asian neighbours, including newcomers like Brunei. Brunei launched its Fintech office in 2017 and at the same time put in place regulatory guidelines. However, Brunei’s Fintech ecosystem remains underdeveloped. Brunei has good reasons to pursue Fintech, it must start to reduce its economic dependence on gas and oil. The country has already made progress including collaboration with South Korea. Both countries provided US$30 million. They planned to set up a Fintech innovation centre. In return, South Korean companies gained access to the Islamic market. Brunei also signed a Fintech agreement with Singapore, Hong Kong and Great Britain.

#Australia should consider Islamic finance to bridge infrastructure gap

According to Crescent Wealth managing director Talal Yassine, Australia should consider Islamic finance to bridge its infrastructure gap. In his opinion, if super funds continue to spurn local infrastructure investment in favour of offshore assets, Islamic finance could provide a solution. Australians who think it may be hard to source Islamic debt need only look at the UK, which in 2014 became the first Western country to issue sukuk. Yassine believes that the Australian Government is equally well placed to issue sukuks. Local financial institutions, such as National Australia Bank and Crescent Wealth have expertise in building compliant Islamic debt structures and could be used in these funding initiatives.

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