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Islamic fintech shows how inclusivity makes good business sense

Customers across the world are quickly taking to new mobile-based payment technologies; contactless and e-wallets taking the lead over cold, hard cash. But not every nation is moving quite as fast. In Indonesia there are some concerns about whether the adoption of digital payments and other fintech services are compliant with Islamic laws. Recently, the top Muslim clerical body in Indonesia has issued an edict deeming virtual money acceptable, as long as it meets specific conditions. GoPay has already partnered with the Indonesian Mosque Council to enable digital donations, including the practice of almsgiving, zakat. Islamic fintech is a good example of the business benefits of fostering inclusivity and acceptance among local markets. Inclusivity is not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense as well. Out of Indonesia’s 270 million population, half lack bank accounts but have mobile phones. As cash continues to become obsolete, Islamic fintech members will surely profit.

Shariah gold ETF rises as safe havens in demand

Malaysian Affin Hwang Investment Bank expects gold prices to average higher in 2020, helped by sustained accommodative monetary policies among major central banks. Using the TradePlus Shariah Gold Tracker exchange-traded fund (ETF) as an avenue to invest in the precious metal, Affin Hwang believes the ETF’s fair value is RM2.30. In 2019, the price of gold surged by 18.9% year-on-year (YoY) to US$1,523.1/oz compared to a decline of 2.1% in 2018 to US$1,309.3/oz. In the near term, Affin Hwang Capital believes concerns over the recent Covid-19 outbreak will likely continue to drive safe-haven flows into gold. Due to geopolitical concerns and low-interest rates, the World Gold Council noted that holdings in gold-backed ETFs hit an all-time high of 2,885.5 tonnes in 4Q19 compared to 2,858.8 tonnes in 3Q19 mainly from North American and European-listed funds.

How the #UK tech startup scene has become a powerful engine for Islam

Today, technology and Islam are seeing a valuable convergence in its contribution to exercising faith in a modern era. Technology has been a real driving force in the introduction of Islamic business banking in the UK, with more than 20 banks now offering Islamic financial products. Recent technological innovation in augmented reality has seen a team of UK entrepreneurs create the Islamic GPS app, designed with a 360 degree interactive view to help consumers find Islamic heritage spots and halal sites. Britain is now also home to a host of tech platforms looking to support charities. The creation of MyTenNights showed sharp demand for automated, personalised nightly donation plans during Ramadan. To ensure they maximise their positive impact, Muslims are using the nightly automating donation platform to remove the admin of charitable donation.

Nasser Hideur, Directeur général d'Al Salam Bank #Algérie : «La finance islamique contribue à la mobilisation de l'épargne»

Lors du colloque international sur la finance islamique le ministre délégué à la prospective et aux statistiques, le docteur Bachir Messaitfa, avait réaffirmé l'intérêt des pouvoirs publics de voir ces activités financières se développer et contribuer de manière plus importante à l'effort de mobilisation de l'épargne nationale, de financement de l'économie et de bancarisation de la société. Les sukuk étant adossés à des actifs tangibles peuvent constituer une alternative pour toute entité de droit public ou privé désirant lever des fonds à travers des mécanismes de marché dans le respect des principes de la chari'a. En matière de crédit, la formule de vente par tempérament de véhicules préalablement acquis par la banque a suscité un immense intérêt auprès des citoyens.

Les fintechs à l’assaut de la finance islamique

Dans son rapport « Islamique Finance Outlook 2019 Edition », S&P Global Ratings a déclaré qu’à moyen terme, le secteur des fintechs pourrait entraîner certaines disruptions sur le marché de la finance islamique. L’adoption de la finance islamique par le biais des fintechs a une grande chance de toucher les masses, en particulier la population rurale qui a moins accès aux produits et services financiers. Le marché des fintechs islamiques en est encore à ses prémices mais recèle de nombreuses opportunités de croissance. Les services de transferts et de paiements via la technologie blockchain et la gestion des finances personnelles, dont les solutions d’open Banking, apparaissent être les secteurs à plus forte concentration et croissance. Ils sont proposés par les fintechs basées sur la blockchain et les contrats intelligents.

Regulating AI in Finance: Putting the Human in the Loop

Globalization, digitization and technology are propelling Artificial Intelligence (AI) forward in finance at an ever increasing pace. Despite the fact that finance is where some of the greatest investment is taking place, little has been written about potential financial regulatory concerns. Traditional financial supervision, focused on external supervision, is generally unlikely to be highly effective in addressing the risks created by AI. The most effective path forward involves regulatory approaches which bring the human into the loop, enhancing internal governance and personal responsibility through external regulation. The most effective are AI-tailored manager responsibility frameworks, augmented in some cases by independent AI review committees.

Casablanca : Des experts étudient l'impact de la finance participative sur les ODD

La Société Islamique pour le Développement du Secteur Privé (ICD) et Al Akhdar Bank organisent les 20 et 21 février 2020 à Casablanca une conférence de l’impact de la Finance Participative sur les Objectifs de Développement Durable (ODD). Les Master Classes de cet évènement ont pour but d’appuyer les différentes potentialités agissant directement ou indirectement dans le secteur de la Finance participative dans la compréhension des mécanismes islamiques permettant de financer le développement durable, tel que les Green Sukuk par exemple. Ces séances de formation ciblent plusieurs catégories d’acteurs, entre autres, les investisseurs institutionnels, les sociétés de capital-investissement, les firmes de capital-risque, les institutions du secteur privé concernées par le développement durable.

KYC Blockchain consortium in Dubai: possible implications?

The Know Your Customer or KYC blockchain consortium in Dubai is due to happen soon in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Banks and financial authorities have come together to form a consortium that would be sharing the KYC information not just between the banking giants of the country but also the financial regulatory authority. KYC is among the most hated protocols in the cryptocurrency universe; given the fact that the very idea of KYC stands for everything against the cryptocurrency. Ironically enough, the KYC blockchain consortium in Dubai would be using the very technology that powers the cryptocurrency sphere to keep the user information. KYC information includes the identification of the user and other details that would allow the authorities to track the finances back to the user.

Algérie : Vers la création de banques islamiques (Finance Islamique)

Sous le thème « L’avenir de la finance islamique à la lumière des développements contemporains en Algérie », le colloque international sur la finance islamique s’est tenu à l’Université de Tipaza les 18 et 19 Février. Le colloque a appelé les autorités Algériennes à accélérer la cadence, notamment sur le volet des dispositifs financiers, afin d’établir des lois relatives à la création de banques et de compagnies d’assurances islamiques. Le ministre délégué chargé des Statistiques et de la Prospective, Bachir Messaitfa avait annoncé lors de l’ouverture du séminaire organisé à l’Université de Tipaza le 18 février, que l’avenir des banques islamiques en Algérie est pionnier et prometteur, qui s’inscrit dans la vision du gouvernement à l’horizon 2035.

Meezan Bank Shariah Board endorsed guidelines for digital mobile account

Meezan Bank's Shariah Board endorsed new guidelines related to digital accounts, supply chain financing and a housing finance facility. The Shariah Supervisory Board showed its overall satisfaction on the Shariah-compliance environment and operations of the Bank. Guidelines for the digital Meezan Asaan Mobile Account based on Mudarabah were approved during the board meeting. From now on a customer can open his digital mobile account at Meezan Bank without the hassle of visiting any physical branch. The customer will be entitled to receive halal profit based on actual returns of Shariah-compliant financings on monthly basis. Furthermore, the customer can use this account to deposit and withdraw funds digitally or from any Meezan Bank branch all over Pakistan.

Chubb in talks to merge Chubb Arabia with AlAhli Takaful Company

Property/casualty insurer Chubb's Saudi Arabian division, Chubb Arabia Cooperative Insurance Company, has entered into preliminary discussions with AlAhli Takaful Company to explore the possibility of merging the two companies.

$26mln Islamic financing for #Oman copper-gold project

The Omani-Australian partnership Al Hadeetha Resources has secured funding to the tune of RO 10 million from Alizz Islamic Bank, which will support the financing of the formers copper-gold project. Australian-based mining firm Alara Resources is a majority investor in the project, which centres on the commercialization of an estimated 16 million tons of copper. These new financing arrangements signify another key milestone for the flagship Al Hadeetha Copper-Gold project in Oman. The funds will be used to procure major equipment for the copper processing plant at Washihi. Meanwhile, Al Hadeetha Resources has named Chinese state-owned enterprise China National Geological & Mining Corporation (CGM) as its Engineering Procurement Construction contractor. The project is expected to come into operation by Q1 2021.

Saudi art organisation acquires vast collection of Middle Eastern art from Dubai's bankrupt Abraaj firm

The private Saudi art organisation Art Jameel has bought a vast collection of works by leading artists commissioned by the now defunct, Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj. The collection had been planned to go on long-term loan to Art Jameel’s Dubai space, Jameel Arts Centre, before the financial company went bankrupt in 2018. It will now be managed as part of the Art Jameel Collection and part will be housed at the centre in Dubai. The 29 pieces, created over ten years from 2008 as part of the annual Abraaj Group Art Prize, are by artists from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia including Kader Attia, Shezad Dawood, Rana Begum and Wael Shawky.

#Turkey sees inflow of angel investments surge 66% in 2019

Turkey saw $102 million worth of angel investments come into the country in 2019, a 66% year-on-year increase, amid efforts to improve venture capital and angel investment fields in the country. Turkey is the fourth largest angel investment country in Europe with 141 angel investors. The two-day congress on angel investment hosts hundreds of participants from 92 countries and 132 international speakers in 24 panels. As part of the WBAF's World Congress 2020, agreements were signed with the Mali government, the Mexican Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Royal Academy of Science International Trust, the Antalya OIS and the Antalya Technopark, the Three Cultures Foundation, the World Free Zones Association, the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs and Bahrain Entrepreneurs Organization.

Moroccan jurist Ahmed Raissouni slammed for calling micro loans «Sharia-compliant»

Moroccan jurist Ahmed Raissouni and his recent fatwa on micro loans in Morocco has stirred controversy among Moroccan salafists. They urged the head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars to review his opinion on the matter. Raissouni said the loans introduced recently were Sharia-compliant, but salafists sustain the view that usury, even with an interest rate of 0.5%, remains a prohibited practice. Mohamed Talal Lahlou, a professor of Islamic economics said that these loans are meant to promote the national economy and the explanation of its advantages, as presented by Raissouni, is a sort of normalization of what is prohibited by Islam. He denounced the reasoning, which increases the power of an authoritarian and usury system.

Pirate Statement on Homelessness for the United Nations

Pirate Parties International (PPI) released a statement, which also appeared on the website of the United Nations. PPI concludes that technology-based tools such as internet crowd sourcing of information and low threshold access to resource information better targets help where it’s needed. In areas where housing cannot be provided, PPI proposes open use of apps, websites and computer labs to help homeless locate resources. Merging technology, resources, helpers and users via digital platforms is a new frontier in fighting homelessness. Finland proves the efficacy of Housing First to reintegrate homeless into society. PPI are strong supporters of the self-evident truth that people function better when they have a place to live.

Al Baraka celebrates Art Week in headquarters with an Art Exhibition by employees

Al Baraka Islamic Bank organized an art exhibition for talented employees of the Bank as well as for the staff of Al Baraka Banking Group. The Art exhibition took place on 28th January 2020 at the Al Baraka Headquarters in Bahrain Bay. Al Baraka Group President Mr. Adnan Ahmed Yousif said the exhibition aimed to explore the historical legacies of Bahrain, from traditional crafts, industry and pop culture to modernism’s forms, including art and architecture there by encouraging the talented employees. He further stated that some of the paintings would be selected for use in the Group’s calendars and greeting cards.

INJAZ #Bahrain set to launch its first mobile application

INJAZ Bahrain has endeavored to develop its first mobile application with the support of Al Salam Bank-Bahrain, K-Labs and Inforise IT. The application will offer an enhanced registration experience by enabling new joiners, volunteers and alumni to choose among a list of programs offered by INJAZ Bahrain in collaboration with public and private schools. The application will also provide INJAZ Bahrain’s privileged volunteers with reward points based on their contributed volunteering hours towards youth development. The INJAZ Bahrain application will be available for both Android and IOS users by June of this year. In an aim to expand youth education and economic development, INJAZ Bahrain is leveraging mobile to harness digital innovation to improve the learning process and encourage more volunteers to join its programs.

IMF: Oil-rich Gulf Arab states may spend savings in 15 years

The International Monetary Fund warned that Gulf Arab states could burn through all their savings in the next 15 years as worries about climate change and supply from new competitors dampen oil prices. The stark alarm from the IMF comes as the island nation of Bahrain faced defaulting on a loan in 2018 and received a $10 billion bailout from its neighbors. According to IMF, the world’s demand for oil is expected to grow more slowly and eventually begin to decline in the next two decades. Oil production in the GCC represents 20% of global supplies. While GCC nations largely grew their reserves from 1997 to 2007, they began spending rapidly in the decade that followed. The monetary body recommended faster diversification away from an oil-based economy, a renewed push to save money and reforming the region’s large civil service.

Swiss fintech firms venture deeper into Middle East

Swiss fintech company Instimatch has launched into the Middle East, having won a licence to operate in Qatar, and signed up its first Kuwaiti bank. The company is poised to incorporate Islamic finance-compliant solutions and blockchain into its platform. Qatar's Masraf Al Rayan and Ahli banks are among the 80-plus entities signed up by Instimatch, along with Kuwait's Gulf Bank. Instimatch plans to have Qatar as a springboard for further expansion in the Middle East and later to Africa and Asia. Along with other countries in the region, Qatar recently launched a national fintech strategy to beef up its financial centre with digital innovations.

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