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Industry body #AAOIFI plans #standards for Islamic endowments

The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) will develop a package of standards covering Islamic endowments or awqaf. AAOIFI did not give a time frame for the completion of its awqaf standards, but said its board had discussed and approved specifications regarding the accounting standards. The plans are part of wider industry efforts to modernise awqaf, which receive donations to operate specific social projects, such as mosques, schools and welfare schemes. Most awqaf do not disclose full financial figures, although their underperformance is believed to be considerable. In India, awqaf are estimated to own 490,000 properties but their estimated annual income is just 1.63 billion rupees ($25.22 million.)

#Indonesia's GDP Growth Curtailed by High Non-Performing Loan Ratio

Indonesian banks are expected to be cautious boosting credit disbursement because the non-performing loan (NPL) ratio is currently high with the gross NPL ratio hovering above 3% since mid-2016. Banks are now more selective in terms of credit disbursement, but this undermines the pace of the nation's macroeconomic growth. Although Indonesia managed to end the five-year economic slowdown in 2016, it is still far away from Indonesian President Joko Widodo's ambitious 7% GDP growth pledge. In fact, he revised his projection for Indonesia's 2018 GDP growth to 5.6% from a previous projection of a 5.4 - 6.1%. Thus, it should basically be impossible to see a 7% growth rate by 2017.

Head of #Islamic #finance body #IFSB to #retire

The secretary general of the IFSB will retire next week, according to a statement. Jaseem Ahmed will step down middle of April after leading the IFSB 6 years.
The process for the selection of a new secretary general has begun. Zahid ur Rehman Khokher acting as interim secretary general.

Want to #meet the #SDGs? #Invest in longitudinal data

To meet the SDGs by 2030, more data is needed and collecting it can be time-consuming and expensive. Governments can select the data collection methods and analytical tools that will best help them reach their SDG targets.
Fortunately, there are several approaches to this. Longitudinal data on household expenditure can be a better way of measuring poverty and income inequality in Asia and the Pacific compared to the cross-sectional data analysis currently used across the region. Longitudinal data tracks the same kinds of data over long periods of time. Cross-sectional data is collected from many subjects at a single point in time.

#Al #Hilal #Bank appoints new #CEO

Al Hilal Bank announced appointment of Alex Coelho as new chief executive officer.
With more than two decades of experience in the global financial industry, he will be responsible for reinforcing the Al Hilal Bank’s position as a leading Islamic bank in the UAE and Kazakhstan.
In the past, Coelho had leadership roles between the Middle East and New York, and co-led global financial institutions coverage in the US, Canada, Latin America, Asia and Europe, according to a statement.

College to draft Islamic finance #curriculum

A #Kenyan college yesterday signed a three-year memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Malaysian training university to develop curriculum on Islamic Finance. Coast International College (CIC) also signed a letter of collaboration with the Inceif, the global University for Islamic Finance owned by the Central Bank of Malaysia. The MoU was signed by college principal Loise Gichuki, Inceif president and chief executive Daud Vicary Abdullah. The programme will offer Diploma in Islamic finance. The Malaysia University will provide curriculum, course materials and lectures related to Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic Law of contract, financial accounting and fundamentals of Islamic Banking.

#Fintech could solve Sharia contracts' puzzles

According to panellists speaking at the Finnovasia 2017 Conference, Shariah contracts' greater regulatory complexity can be eased by fintech solutions. Raja Teh Maimunah, CEO of Aminvestment Bank in Kuala Lumpur, stressed that the complex nature of Sharia instruments requires bankers take a different approach. Raja and her bank had wanted to digitise their banking transaction processes by introducing a new type of contract for current and savings accounts. It was eventually addressed with a fintech solution developed by one of her staff. Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood, CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, pointed out that the growth of Malaysia’s digital economy currently stands at 17.8% of the country’s total GDP of $296.3 billion, and is expected to meet or exceed the 18.2% target set by the government for 2020.

#Malaysia Woos #FinTech Devs for Shariah-Compliant Islamic Finance

Malaysia’s proximity in the ASEAN region and its mix of urban, suburban and rural population makes it a suitable environment for testing and launching FinTech solutions for the global Islamic Finance market. Datuk Yasmin Mohamood, CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC), has opened the country’s doors for FinTech startups and companies. Yasmin was speaking at the Finnovasia 2017 Conference in Kuala Lampur and claimed Malaysia as a viable test-bed for FinTech companies. He added that an organized FinTech ecosystem will be developed with the support of Bank Negara Malaysia and the country’s Securities Commission. In August last year, Bitspark partnered Malaysia’s Vitaxel to bring remittance solutions over the bitcoin blockchain. Later in December, Malaysian non-profit Blockchain Embassy Asia established a steering committee toward educating organizations about blockchain technology.

ICD and TUV SUD to develop private sector in Central Asia

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and TUV SUD signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to foster their joint operations in the countries of Central Asia. ICD's CEO Khaled Al-Aboodi and the managing director of TUV SUD Central Asia, Anar Ahmadov, signed the MoU on behalf of the two corporations in Astana, Kazakhstan. The aim of the MoU is to facilitate cooperation in promoting private sector participation and inform about business opportunities in countries of Central Asia. This partnership will enable the two institutions to work closely on market studies related to the transit and logistic sector in the common member countries.

Book Review: Too Little, Too Late

The increase in emerging market debt to more than $900 billion in outstandings according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) heightens the importance of sovereign debt restructuring. This concern affects not only holders of sovereign debt but also investors in corporate, financial, and structured debt. Too Little, Too Late is a collection of 15 papers on current sovereign debt–restructuring challenges and alternative approaches to resolving them. For investment analysts, the book is a valuable source of systematic analysis, insights, and data on a complex problem. The authors maintain that the only durable solution will be a multinational framework that brings lenders and borrowers together by focusing on mutually beneficial incentives.

EdAid launches first ever Sharia-compliant #crowdfunding platform

EdAid has launched the first ever Sharia-compliant crowdfunding platform to finance Muslim students interest-free. QardHasan will help students raise up to £30,000 within 40 days, channelling funds from charitable trusts and potential employers. The UK-based impact investment firm looks to contribute to each crowdfunding campaign by doubling every £500 raised by a borrower through the platform. The firm's founder and chief executive Tom Woolf said the new platform aims to provide affordable and fair funding options to Muslims. Woolf said the project falls somewhere in between LinkedIn and Kickstarter, as it helps students build up a broader network for their academic and professional career.

CAIA Association #Survey: Responsible Investment Principles Growing in Importance

According to a new survey by the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association, incorporation of environmental, social, governance and ethics principles into the investment process is growing in importance. More than three quarters (77%) of respondents to the survey agreed that responsible investing is more important than it was three years ago, while 78% anticipate it will be more important three years from now. When asked to rank the largest drivers of adoption of responsible investing and ESG approaches, respondents chose: Adoption of industry standards (71%); Pressure from institutional investors (67%); and Positive investment return outcomes (64%). A total of 647 CAIA members participated in the survey, which was conducted in January 2017.

Payment App for Foreign Tourists Wins #FinTech Award in #Iran

ZPay, a payment application for foreign tourists in Iran, has won Bank Pasargad Iran’s award for best fintech innovation at the First Fintech Festival. ZPay enables foreigners to shop in Iran while keeping their money outside the country. Iran is doing much to improve its fintech standing. Earlier this month, it was reported that Iran had launched a FinTech Association to push for further development. And yet, while the capital Tehran is home to a growing number of local fintech startups, Iran still has a long way to go before it can be considered a fintech hub.

DFSA issues new #fintech consultation paper

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has published its new financial technology (fintech) consultation paper. The paper is the third in a series, setting out the DFSA’s approach to the regulation of pioneering fintech activities. The paper sets out the DFSA’s approach to FinTech firms that want to test innovative products and services in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Firms meeting the qualifying criteria will receive a Financial Services Licence, referred to as an Innovation Testing Licence. The testing phase is a step towards the FinTech firm obtaining a full Financial Services Licence.

Azzad joins coalition asking CEOs to oppose Pres. Trump's refugee and immigrant ban

Azzad Asset Management has joined other socially responsible investment institutions in signing a coalition letter to the 19 CEOs who are members of President Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum. The letter asks to oppose the president's recent executive order barring refugees and certain immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries. In addition to public outcry against the ban on humanitarian and constitutional grounds, many have pointed out the negative impact of barring international workers on the economy. The letter was signed by 64 socially responsible investment firms and human rights and religious organizations. The Strategic and Policy Forum's first meeting is scheduled for February 3.

Islamic finance body drafts new #standard for centralised sharia boards

A global body for Islamic finance has issued a draft standard on centralized sharia boards, aiming to improve corporate governance in the industry. The proposed rules come at a time when Islamic banks are trying to widen their appeal in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, while opening up entirely new markets in Africa. The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) is seeking industry feedback on the proposed standard until the end of February. AAOIFI said the standard would encourage convergence of industry practices by avoiding contradictory rulings and fostering consistency across products and services. While the standard does not prescribe term limits for scholars, it does require sharia boards to implement a rotation policy for its members while including members with expertise in areas such as accounting and law.

2016 sees Islamic banks take a larger share of the #UAE’s #car #loan market

Applications for Islamic car loans in the UAE grew by 64.79% from 2015 to 2016. Despite growth in Islamic car loans, car loans based on traditional finance were more popular among UAE residents in 2016. Emirates NBD’s Feature-Packed Auto Loan was the most applied-for car loan in 2016. The second most applied-for auto loan of 2016 was that of HSBC, the third, fourth and fifth most applied-for car loans of 2016 were from Islamic banks. Emirates Islamic’s Auto Finance product came in third place, while Noor Bank’s Auto Finance and Ajman Bank’s Car Finance came in fourth and fifth respectively.

Trump policies, higher rates may spark emerging market #debt crisis

US President Donald Trump has been accused of courting international trade friction and a new international debt crisis. There were already signs given the huge debt built up over a decade of record low interest rates, and that rates had begun rising. The next international debt crisis could well be in the emerging market corporate sector. Global debt has reached US$217 trillion, equal to a record 325% of global gross domestic product. Investors in Brazil, South Korea, Thailand, Chile, Czech and Malaysia especially have been big borrowers. While most of this has been in local currencies, corporates in India, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Russia as well as Hong Kong and Singapore have borrowed heavily in foreign currency. This creates a currency mismatch situation.

#Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre announces updated strategy for 2017-2021

The Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) announced the launch of its refreshed strategy for 2017-2021. Making the announcement, Sheikh Hamdan said the first part of the strategy includes identifying new key performance indicators (KPIs) for monitoring the growth of important sectors. The second component is enhancing Dubai’s status as a reference for Islamic finance, Halal sector and Islamic lifestyle that includes culture, art, fashion and family tourism. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri said the DIEDC’s latest goal is to demonstrate the positive impact of Islamic economy. It is necessary to establish the structural framework of the ecosystem. Finance, production and consumption must feature in it as integrated systems aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Al Mansouri pointed out the need for universally accepted standards across Islamic economy sectors and stressed that the UAE will focus on refining these standards.

Poverty amid plenty in the #Gulf

The UN appointed Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty in the Gulf has concluded his mission on 19th January. In his report Dr. Mohamed Ramady highlights that poverty encompasses non-financial targets that encompasses women’s right to work and move freely, inhibiting factors that lead to family poverty. It is meaningless to adopt an absolute line given a large variance in GCC GDP per capita, ranging from around $ 25,000 in Saudi Arabia to $ 95,000 in Qatar. National poverty line figures accordingly vary from $ 1,300 per month to $ 5,000 levels. Cash payment handouts to reduce subsidies to balance national budgets are short-term measures. The key to poverty eradication is education, access to work and removal of social restrictions. To varying degrees, all the Gulf countries have given emphasis to ensuring more female work and civil and political participation. The UN Report also highlighted an uneven corporate social responsibility to carry out effective training and offer more opportunities for female workers and handicapped employees.

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