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$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.

Islamic Development Bank promotes #waqf for development's sake

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) dedicates special concern for promoting waqf in line with its objective of boosting social and economic development of Islamic nations. The eighth forum on fiqh issues was held in Great Britain, at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies. Dr. Abdullah Mohammad, IDB's representative of the Islamic Institute for Research and Training stated that IDB has always sought to innovate mechanisms to benefit from the waqf institutions. Dr. Farhan Nethami, the center chair, lauded the Kuwaiti General Secretariat for Aqwaf for promoting waqf in all parts of the world, through funding philanthropic projects. He called for following the example of Kuwait and establishing coordination with non-Muslim communities in the social and economic domains, noting such an approach boosts understanding and mutual respect.

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.

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