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Fintech and Islamic finance: Blockchain’s Proof of Work vs Proof of Stake

Finally, the long-awaited book on Fintech in Islamic Finance, which I am honored to have contributed is ready for delivery:

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781351025584

In my contribution I looked at how the underlying economics of increasing returns and zero marginal costs impact business models, with then causing challenges on the legal and Islamic legal side for instance regarding smart contracts and artificial intelligence. Fintech opens to contribute to Islamic finance, as it allows to disrupt debt driven financing towards equity, if guided in the right direction. Jonathan Lawrence of KL Gates in charge for Fintech and Islamic finance at his law firm was my co-author.

BTW: If any reader knows about blockchain solutions for financial inclusion, especially for the Muslim world, please point me in the right direction. I would love to see this discussed on the next Global Donors Forum 2020 in Geneva, which is the biannual convention of Muslim Philanthropists.

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Call for Innovation via Transform Fund 2019

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has established a special Fund, known as Science, Technology and Innovation Transform Fund (IsDB-STIF) to support its Member Countries in finding practical solutions to key development challenges related to 6 focused Sustainable Development Goals through the power of innovation. Transform is a multi-million-dollar fund that provides seed money for innovators, startups, SMEs and institutions that need initial funding and growth capital to develop their ideas and compose a strong business proposal. The second round for the Call for Innovation under Transform Fund is now open. Deadline for submission is 1st June 2019.

https://www.isdb-engage.org/en/challenge/call-for-innovation-via-transfo...

Islamic groups ‘call upon all Muslims’ to divest from oil and gas

The Islamic Foundation for Environmental and Ecological Sciences, the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board and the Bahu Trust released a statement calling on Muslims to pull investment from the oil and gas sector. The three organisations said it was time the Muslim community stood firmly with those committed to action on climate change. They suggested that investment funds be shifted to renewable energy solutions, low-carbon transport and sustainable food sources. The leaders of the three Islamic groups added that the investment in cleaner energy was vital for a sustainable future. They also added that the need to realign oil and gas finances was in keeping with Islam’s ethical values.

Istanbul to host refugee economic inclusion conference

Istanbul is hosting a two-day conference to discuss the economic inclusion of young refugees in their host communities. The conference is set to bring together more than 150 stakeholders from the MENA region, policymakers, international and national NGOs, private sector, academia, and entrepreneurs. Participants will discuss various methods for enhancing economic inclusion of refugees and host communities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The two-day program will be held in partnership between the Dutch International NGO Spark and Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), with the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs as sponsors.

The Musée du Louvre, Paris, opens new and expanded spaces for exploring Islamic Arts supported by Alwaleed Philanthropies

The Musée du Louvre officially opened new and expanded spaces to explore Islamic art with the support of Alwaleed Philanthropies. The new exhibition space offers visitors an immersive introduction to Islamic art. The center showcases a diverse range of art and artifacts stretching from Spain to India and explains the evolution of Islamic art in style, form and medium. Louvre President Jean Luc-Martinez hopes to reach even more visitors, and provide them the keys to understanding the wonderful artistic heritage. The new and expanded spaces for exploring Islamic art has been designed to offer full disability access and includes a series of interactive displays.

Dubai's Emaar Properties sells $500 million 10-year #sukuk

Dubai's Emaar Properties is set to raise $500 million from the sale of sukuk. The transaction has received orders of nearly $2.5 billion, including $300 million of interest from the banks arranging the deal. The deal is part of a $2 billion debt programme and is offering investors a profit rate equivalent to 235 basis points over mid-swaps.
Standard Chartered acts as coordinator. Other banks leading the transaction are Dubai Islamic Bank, Deutsche Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Mashreqbank and Sharjah Islamic Bank.

#Egypt mulls around $7 billion international bond issuance

Egypt will approach investment banks soon to advise on a planned international bond issuance to raise between $3 billion and $7 billion by June 2020. The new offering could include Egypt’s first Panda, Samurai, Sukuk and green bonds as well as euro- and dollar-denominated bonds. Khaled Abd Elrahman, the Egyptian Deputy Minister of Finance, said that the so-called request for proposal is being prepared and will be sent to banks imminently. Egypt was able to return to global bond markets in 2017, lowering its borrowing costs overseas as domestic rates soared amid a far-reaching economic reform programme. The government is now seeking to vary its instruments and gradually move toward longer-term credit to reduce the burden of debt. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said that foreign holdings in Egypt’s Treasury bills and bonds currently stand at about $20 billion.

DIFC FinTech Hive receives huge response from global participants

Dubai International Financial Centre’s FinTech Hive has announced the commencement of the 2019 edition of its accelerator programme. The third edition of the programme received an overwhelming response of over 425 applications from across the world. Finalists include 15 start-ups specialising in the FinTech sector, four specialising in the Islamic FinTech sector, ten in the InsurTech sector, and two in the RegTech sector. The accelerator programme consists of a three-month curriculum in which a group of selected finalists work closely with stakeholders to address the needs of the region. The programme will culminate in an 'Investor Day', offering the participating start-ups an opportunity to showcase their achievements to prospective investors.

BML opens new Islamic Banking headquarters

Bank of Maldives (BML) inaugurated the new headquarters of its Islamic Banking arm in the capital city of Male. The facility will provide counter services for transactions, with a range of financial services available for both individuals and businesses. BML Islamic offers a comprehensive range of completely Shari’ah compliant alternatives to the bank's conventional products. The bank assured that its services were developed in accordance with international standards and best practices for Islamic Banking. Customer deposits are maintained in a separate fund utilized exclusively for Shariah-compliant purposes. The process is overseen by the bank’s Shariah Advisory Committee, which includes internationally recognised experts.

#Turkey's Takasbank reveals blockchain platform to transfer gold

Turkey’s Takasbank launched its blockchain-based electronic platform for trading gold called BiGA. The project aims to enable people to transfer physical gold stored at the Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange via digitized gold units on a blockchain. Although the units will have the same form and function as physically backed stablecoins, their value will be tied to the traded goal. The bank will provide users with a wallet to store the tokens, and BiGA can eventually be used as an e-commerce payment option. Notably, the word “BiGA” is the Turkish abbreviation for one gram of gold. Earlier this week, New York-based Paxos Trust Company has launched PAX Gold, a gold-backed Ethereum token, with approval from the New York State Department of Finance Services. One PAXG token will be supported by one fine troy ounce of London Good Delivery gold stored in professional vault facilities in London.

Islamic finance contracts estimated to reach $2.5trn

The Qatar International Center for Conciliation and Arbitration (QICCA) has participated in the 7th East Africa International Arbitration Conference (EAIAC) held on 29 - 30 August 2019 in Nairobi. As QICCA’s Board Member, Sheikh Thani bin Ali bin Saud Al Thani attended the event and delivered a research paper on Islamic finance. During the sessions of the conference, Sheikh Thani informed attendees on the expertise of Qatar in Islamic finance as well as Malaysia’s experiment, in addition to experiments of non-Islamic countries such as Singapore. The conference which was held under the theme "Government Contracting and Investment Disputes: Lessons for States and Investors" saw a participation of more than 250 attendees from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Ghana. QICCA General Counsel Minas Khatchadourian said that the world’s Sovereign Wealth Investments will reach $15trillion by 2020, which represents 25% of the total value of assets that are managed over the world.

Source: 

https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/08/09/2019/Islamic-finance-contracts-estimated-to-reach-$2.5trn

QFC joins Islamic Financial Services Board

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has been admitted to the international standard-setting organisation, Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), as an Associate Member. As an Associate Member, the QFC can participate in the IFSB General Assembly, receive technical assistance from the IFSB and participate in Working Groups, Task Force and closed-door discussions. The Secretary-General of the IFSB, Dr. Bello Lawal Danbatta welcomed QFC and reaffirmed the board's committment to promoting resilience and the stability of Islamic financial services.

Accion Venture Lab launches $23M inclusive fintech startup #fund

Accion, a non profit that supports microfinance institutions globally, has announced that its Accion Venture Lab is adding $33 million to its initial capital pool. Accion starts with the launch of a new $23 million fund, and an additional, separate $10 million investment will follow. The new fund comes from a group of third-party impact and commercial investors, bringing Venture Lab's total capital under management to $43 million. Launched in 2012 with $10 million in capital, Accion Venture Lab invests in fintech startups at the seed stage. The Venture Lab portfolio focuses on the fintech space that offers the potential to reach underserved communities. Today, those include insurtech, agricultural finance, digital lending, holistic MSME finance solutions, and personal financial management.

Jibrel to launch first globally regulated blockchain-powered private financing platform

Switzerland-based fintech company Jibrel Network announced the launch of Jibrel.com after its recent acceptance into the new ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market) RegLab cohort in the UAE. Jibrel.com claims to be the first fully regulated blockchain-powered private financing platform. Jibrel’s purpose is to foster open financial systems and digitization powered by emerging technologies. Its mission is to tokenize an array of assets in a manner that is borderless, asset class agnostic and customizable for different use cases. The new platform will enable investors of all genres to connect with startups and SMEs, creating new capital formations. Talal Tabbaa, co-founder and COO of Jibrel believes this platform will transform the MENA startup ecosystem by providing access to a broader investment base, so that startups will raise more liquidity, and spur the growth of the sector further in the region.

Alwaleed Philanthropies invests $5m in global fight for vaccines

Alwaleed Philanthropies is investing a further $5 million in its partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The foundation will make the investment through Gavi’s INFUSE initiative (Innovation for Uptake, Scale and Equity in Immunization). The grant is part of a range of efforts by Alwaleed Philanthropies to improve routine immunization and builds on the original $1 million investment made in 2015 to support vaccines in Timor Leste, Kiribati, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Guyana for the 2016-2020 program. Princess Lamia bint Majid Al-Saud, general-secretary of Alwaleed Philanthropies, announced the partnership at the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development. Alwaleed Philanthropies recognize the pressing need to support immunization, as the majority of the world’s population is increasingly living in urban areas, and more than 19.4 million children are still under-immunized.

Istanbul meet discusses development challenges

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have organised a two-day meeting in Istanbul. Several managers from organizer institutions are giving speeches on many issues such as saving children, poverty in Africa, socio-economic issues, Islamic and alternative finance, innovation and blockchain opportunities and partnership with the private sector. Gerd Trogemann, the manager of UNDP's Istanbul Regional Hub, stressed that all partners have to work together for bringing solutions to development challenges. The partners should go beyond organizational borders and build networks and platforms of partnerships, as each partner has different levels of reach, approaches and solutions.

Emaar Properties hires banks for 10-year dollar #sukuk deal

Dubai’s Emaar Properties has hired banks to arrange investor meetings ahead of the issuance of 10-year dollar sukuk. Emaar Properties will meet investors in Asia and London starting on Sept 6. Standard Chartered was hired to coordinate the deal. Other banks leading the transaction are Dubai Islamic Bank, Deutsche Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Mashreq Bank and Sharjah Islamic Bank.

Chevening OCIS/ Abdullah Gül Fellowship applications are now open

The Chevening Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) Fellowships are aimed at mid-career academics or professionals who are dedicated to a more informed understanding of the culture and civilisation of Islam and contemporary Muslim societies. Chevening OCIS Fellowship and Chevening OCIS Abdullah Gül Fellowship are a collaboration between the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and OCIS. The fellowship programmes will commence in October 2020. Fellows will need to develop their own research project to focus on during their fellowship prior to arriving in the UK. The Chevening OCIS Abdullah Gül Fellowship is available to applicants from Turkey. All applications for a Chevening Award must be made through the Chevening designated online application system (OAS), which can be accessed through www.chevening.org.

Islamic Development Bank hires banks to raise more than $1 bln in #sukuk -sources

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has hired banks to arrange a new issue of U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk, which is expected to be more than $1 billion in size. Hired banks include Emirates NBD, Standard Chartered, Gulf International Bank and HSBC and the transaction is expected to take place next month. IsDB was last in the market in April this year with a $1.5 billion five-year sukuk deal. It generally issues dollar-denominated bonds twice a year, and last year it also sold its first sukuk denominated in euro. The new transaction will be more than $1 billion in size, with one of the sources saying it could go up to $1.5 billion.

Mena blockchain firm targets Islamic finance

Blockchain firm R3 has partnered with Dubai-based startup Wethaq to bring blockchain technology to the Islamic finance market. According to R3 CEO David Rutter, blockchain is driving an unprecedented period of innovation across capital markets, with more assets moving towards complete digitisation. Wethaq’s platform-as-a-service offering will use R3’s Corda enterprise blockchain infrastructure to digitise the pre-sale issuance, management and financing of sukuk securities. Interest in using blockchain technology for Islamic finance has increased in the last 12 months. Abu Dhabi-based Al Hilal Bank claimed to be the first firm to execute a sukuk transaction via the blockchain back in November 2018.

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