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'Waqf' can boost science

#Malaysia hosted a conference in which experts considered the relevance of waqf and how it could be engaged to alleviate poverty. In his keynote address, Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah explained that the concept of waqf preceded trusts and endowments. A donor endows a waqf with an asset and the waqf institution then spends its revenue in perpetuity on the fulfilment of public needs. The law governing waqf was borrowed by the English following the Crusades in the Holy Land. For example, Merton College at Oxford University was established with a financial endowment in 1264. This endowment has facilitated centuries of scholarship, learning and teaching. Sultan Nazrin highlighted the need for a better system for the governance of waqf. He believes that digital connectivity will open up new opportunities for innovative business models, as well as research and development-related investments, to unlock the full potential of waqf assets.

NAB arrests Modaraba corruption case accused

#Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has arrested Yasir Aziz accused in a Modaraba corruption case. The accused acted as finance secretary of M/S Elixir Group and signed the modaraba contracts issued by his brother Shahid Aziz. The public accuses Yasir Aziz of taking the investment and aiding his brother to misappropriate the money. Yasir Aziz also tried to sell the properties owned by the accused Shahid Aziz. NAB Director General Irfan Naeem Mangi confirmed that Yasir Aziz was arrested and assured that the NAB was committed to eradicate corruption from the country.

Global Regulators to Maintain AML Pressure on the #Cryptocurrency Industry

The inter-governmental body Financial Action Task Force (FATF) announced that it would step up its efforts in monitoring the use of cryptocurrencies in money laundering. The pronouncement of the 37-member international body demonstrates the heightened Anti-Money Laundering (AML) concern from regulators across the globe concerning illicit uses of cryptocurrency. Several countries have already taken measures. The European Council has recently taken measures targeting exchange platforms for virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, as well as prepaid cards. In the UK, the Parliament’s Treasury Committee launched a probe to examine both the impact of cryptocurrencies on financial institutions and how best to police the new technology. South Korea’s ban on anonymous trading of cryptocurrencies took effect on January 30. Given regulators’ intense focus on the industry, it is likely that cryptocurrencies will be a topic of discussion at the upcoming G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Bill Gates Says ICOs And Cryptos Can Be ‘Super Risky’

In a recent ask me anything (AMA) session on Reddit Bill Gates talked about his view on cryptocurrencies and the future of transportation. He believes that the speculative wave around initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies is super risky for those who go long. As cryptocurrencies are used for buying drugs, the technology has already caused deaths in a direct way. About transportation Bill Gates is doubtful about the pressurized capsule technology called Hyperloop, but he believes in electric cars and autonomous vehicles. In Japan Nissan and DeNA are planning a test run of a self-driving taxi service dubbed Easy Ride. In the USA Ford is launching a new partnership with Postmates to test its self-driving technology for deliveries.

New Islamic start-up #incubator launched in Dubai

Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA) has partnered with Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre and venture firm Technolera to launch a new start-up incubator. Goodforce Labs is launched to help Islamic small and medium enterprises to reach $50m in annual revenues and a measurable social impact. It will help start-ups to start, manage and develop their businesses while providing support in areas including design, marketing, operations management and technology. DAFZA said there are more than 2,500 companies in the ethical Islamic lifestyle market but many struggle to grow and survive. Start-ups that have signed up to the incubator so far include handicraft e-commerce platform Growmada, cloud-based charitable endowment manager Waqf 2.0, disciplined entertainment product specialist Zileej and modest women’s clothing firm Rabia Z. Financial literary firm iWealth and halal food e-learning platform Smart Halal are among the other entrants.

#Saudi prepares to auction detained billionaire’s property

Saudi authorities are preparing to auction billions of dollars of real estate and cars belonging to billionaire Maan al-Sanea. This is the latest signal that Saudi Arabia is serious about holding its elites to account. In an anti-corruption crackdown last November, authorities detained several senior officials on charges of alleged graft. The al-Sanea case is separate from the main anti-graft campaign. The businessman was detained for unpaid debt dating back to 2009 when his company, Saad Group, defaulted on debts. Creditors have spent the past nine years pursuing Saad for debt that some estimate to be between 40 billion riyals ($10.67 billion) and 60 billion riyals. Al-Sanea's real estate in Khobar was valued at around 4.4 billion riyals. Authorities are preparing an auction to sell his vehicles, equipment, a large quantity of building materials and some property before the month of Ramadan.

#Iran developing national #cryptocurrency to bypass US sanctions

Iran has revealed that one of the country’s banks is working on a state-backed virtual currency. Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi tweeted he had proposed to implement the country’s first cloud-based digital currency. Iran is still mostly cut off from major international payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard and services such as PayPal. The announcement on its crypto project follows Venezuela’s launch of the world’s first national digital currency the 'petro'. According to President Nicolas Maduro, the oil-backed cryptocurrency has raised the equivalent of more than $735 million. After the successful pre-sale of the petro last week, Maduro announced a new virtual token, dubbed 'petro oro', which will be backed by precious metals.

Abu Dhabi Global Market welcomes 3rd Reglab cohort applications with SME focus

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) welcomes applications for the third cohort of its Regulatory Laboratory (Reglab) with special focus on the small-medium enterprise (SME) sector. ADGM therefore encourages all FinTech and RegTech companies, in particular those with a SME focus, to apply and be part of its RegLab. This includes technology startups which offer tools to both institutions and SMEs alike. The application period will close on 10 May 2018.

RegLab allows participants to explore and develop innovative solutions in a risk-appropriate and cost-effective environment. Moreover, participants will have access to a digital sandbox service provided by Temenos that enables them to integrate their solutions with banking data and functionality.

For further details of the ADGM RegLab programme, please visit www.fintech.adgm.com or contact fintech@adgm.com.

F1Cryptos Partner Michael Buchbinder Fields Interview Questions, Following HADACoin Listing Agreement

HADACoin's listing on F1Cryptos is a rational partership as both firms share the same beliefs about blockchain. The listing offers obvious benefits to HADACoin, with opportunity for liquidity and fulfilling external demand expected to have a positive influence on future valuation of the digital asset. F1Cryptos Partner Michael Buchbinder says the plan is to engage the age demographic between 20-30 that really seems to be embracing blockchain and the new possibilities emerging with cryptocurrencies. HADACoin's issuer, Hada DBank aims to integrate blockchain technology with Islamic financial principles. Hada DBank is in the midst of a crowd funding campaign, currently at pre-sale stage. HADACoin tokens are available for purchase at a current promotional price of 1 ETH – 4,000 HADACoin.

#Indonesia’s P2P startup Investree to raise Series B round, eyes collaboration with banks

Indonesian P2P firm Investree expects to close a Series B funding round in two to three months to finance the company’s marketing activities and expansion. Investree chairman Adrian Gunadi said that the investment would not only boost the company’s core business but also its new sharia product and online government securities business. The firm is hoping to capitalize on its large lender base, made up predominantly of the country’s millennials aged 21-35. Since its inception in 2016, Investree facilitated Rp 623 billion in loans. From the Rp 623 billion, around Rp 500 billion has been disbursed and Rp 367 billion has been paid back. So there’s around Rp 120 billion in outstanding loans. Investree plans to offer a new asset class on its platform, that of retail online government securities. The initiative will start either in April or May, they are currently waiting for confirmation from the Finance Ministry.

Margin #debt is at a record high in #US markets

According to the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, investors have borrowed a record $642.8 billion against investment portfolios. The leverage from this margin debt is a bid to increase returns, but it leaves investors vulnerable if asset prices decline. There was a market correction in February, but the question remains whether the recent correction was a one-off event. Either way, this is where the Federal Reserve has to be concerned about financial stability. When the credit markets become an integral facet sustaining asset markets, a sustained fall in asset prices can boomerang back onto the financial system.

#Bahrain Islamic Bank partners up with the largest dedicated #FinTech hub in the MENA region

Bahrain Islamic Bank (BISB) has announced its partnership with the Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB). As the first dedicated FinTech hub and corporate incubator in the Middle East and Africa region, it will be located in the Arcapita building overlooking Bahrain Bay. The venue comprises state-of-the-art facilities, co-working spaces and a variety of other shared infrastructure. BISB CEO Hassan Amin Jarrar said that with the strong support provided by the Government and the Central Bank of Bahrain Bahrain FinTech Bay would further strengthen the Kingdom’s financial position. Bahrain FinTech Bay aims to develop and accelerate financial technology in the region by creating a platform to fuel the growth of the industry.

#Turkey mulls 'national' bitcoin

Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is proposing to develop a national bitcoin called "Turkcoin". According to MHP deputy chair and former Industry Minister Ahmet Kenan Tanrikulu, missing out on blockchain would be a serious mistake. The politician stressed that cryptocurrencies were already in use in Turkey, despite the lack of a legal framework, so there is a clear need for regulation. Tanrikulu's report also proposes the creation of a state-controlled bitcoin bourse. Though the government maintains its stance toward bitcoin and other digital money, the idea for a national cryptocurrency seems to have better prospects. A Turkish company has already invested in a project to create a local cryptocurrency and is reportedly planning to make the money available soon.

#Iran May Follow #Venezuela In Launching Its Own Cryptocurrency

Iran has announced its intent to establish a national cryptocurrency. Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, head of Iran's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, posted in a Tweet that a test model for a cloud-based digital currency is being developed. The announcement comes after Venezuela's oil-backed "petro" cryptocurrency launch earlier this week. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claims that the cryptocurrency has raised over $700 million. There are fears that the rise of state-backed cryptocurrencies could challenge international efforts to regulate financial transactions and impose sanctions. The three countries most interested in the technology, Iran, Venezuela and Russia, are all targeted by U.S. sanctions.

HADA Coin Announces Listing on F1Cryptos Exchange, Partner Michael Buchbinder Offers Full Interview

Pioneering blockchain-based Islamic bank HADA DBank announced that its Hada coin will be listed on cryptocurrency trading platform F1Cryptos, following their token sale. F1Cryptos will be the first exchange to list the Hada Coin token. According to F1Cryptos partner Michael Buchbinder, HADA DBank's business model brings value and just interaction with the customer. The bank plans on engaging the age demographic between 20-30 that seems to be embracing blockchain and cryptocurrencies. After Discovering HADA DBank it was clear to the F1Cryptos team that the two companies shared the same vision. With F1Cryptos previous history as an FX brokerage, they are experienced to access the potential of HADA DBank. Hada DBank determines to fuse blockchain technology with Islamic Banking Module. The Pre-ICO is currently live, with an ongoing flash sale for the first one million tokens going up for sale at 1ETH = 4,000 HADACoin.

Transparency International publishes new Corruption Perception Index Rankings

Transparency International published its annual Corruption Perception Index. The index ranks 180 countries using a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. This year, more than two-thirds of countries score below 50. With an average of score of 43. In South East Asia, Singapore again leads the way this year as the highest ranked country. The United Kingdom increased its score from 81 to 82. The US moves up to 16th position following a single point increase to their score. The UAE increased it’s score by 5 moving up to 21st place in the index. Malaysia moved down nine places, from 53rd to 62nd on the index. Indonesia also lost 6 places in the index despite scoring the same as last year.

Malaysian firm adds Islamic certification to #cryptocurrency

#Malaysia-based firm HelloGold has received a Syariah-compliant certification for its gold-backed cryptocurrency and plans to launch its online gold platform in Thailand. HelloGold's chief marketing officer Manuel Ho said the cryptocurrency product was named GOLDX and received certification from Amanie Advisors. GOLDX involves the issuance of a token backed by physical gold stored in a Singapore vault and transactions must be completed within a defined time period. Over the past year, the firm has also rolled out a mobile app in Malaysia that is based on blockchain. The mobile app, which allows users to buy and sell physical investment grade gold, was also certified by Amanie Advisors. Manuel Ho added that HelloGold would expand its gold platform into Thailand in coming months, while potentially adding a third market by the end of the year.

Dubai State Holding Firm Is Said to Seek $1 Billion #Refinancing

Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) is seeking to raise a $1 billion loan to refinance its existing debt. The state-owned holding company aims to raise a five-year loan to partly repay a $2.55 billion facility that matures in June. ICD owns stakes in some of Dubai’s biggest companies including Emirates, Emaar Properties and Emirates NBD. The company raised the loan in 2013 and it includes a $875 million facility and a 6.15 billion dirham ($1.7 billion) portion. HSBC Holdings, Citigroup, Standard Chartered, Emirates NBD and Dubai Islamic Bank were among lenders that provided the original loan.

#Fintech News from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

Here’s a round up of recent fintech news from the MENA region. Saudi Arabia’s central bank has signed a deal with Ripple to use distributed ledger technology to settle payments. Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) reports that gold trader Regal RA DMCC is the first company in MENA to gain a licence to trade cryptocurrencies. Honeywell launches Middle East industrial cybersecurity center. International Data Corporation reports that MENA spending on blockchain technology will grow to $80 million this year compared to $39 million in 2017. By 2021, regional blockchain spending is expected to reach $307 million. Monami Tech introduces digital payment service, Lendme, while Monetary Authority of Singapore and Central Bank of Egypt forge fintech partnership.

SECP introduces auditing #standards for Islamic finance sector

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) introduced three new international auditing and accounting standards. According to the commission, the AAOIFI (Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions) shariah standards have been notified after a thorough consultative process. The adopted standards include Shariah Standard No 17-Investment Sukuk, Shariah Standard No 18-Possession (Qabd) as well as Shariah Standard No 23-Agency and the Act of an un-commissioned agent (Fodooli). The commission said it has been playing a proactive role in providing an enabling regulatory environment for the growth of Islamic finance in the country.

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