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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.

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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.

Bangladesh Bank Survey: Minimum balance, low income, high cost major barriers to access to finance

According to a Bangladesh Bank survey, the major barriers to accessing finance in the country are minimum balance requirement, low income, staff attitudes, lack of physical access and high cost of products. Other factors like inadequate financial literacy, lack of proper documentation, lack of initiatives of banks and financial institutions, low level of technological infrastructure, lack of suitable product structure of banks, opportunity cost and high cost of products are also acting as hindrances to access to finance. In Bangladesh a large number of the adult population still remains financially excluded. The major barrier is geographical or physical access measuring the average distance from households to bank branches. Bangladesh has less than seven branches (or ATM) per 100,000 population and about 67 branches (or ATM) per 1,000 square kilometre.

Ethereum deemed halal by Muslim scholars, may stimulate ETH demand

Prominent Muslim scholars and financial advisors released a white paper declaring Ethereum halal. Ethereum’s compliance with Sharia law has been contemplated for some time. Because of most cryptocurrencies are likely securities, the semblance to interest provokes a stir among those in Islamic finance. Instead, Ether represents a “utility token” and functions as a currency that powers Ethereum. Now, a white paper from Oman-based Amanie Islamic Finance & Shariah Advisor highlights that Ether does indeed adhere to Sharia law. Although the opinion is not final by any means, it still holds weight among devout Muslims. The ruling is similar to comments made by the chairman of the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission in March, which affirmed that Ethereum is closer akin to a commodity than a security.

Duterte signs law regulating Islamic banks in #Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed Republic Act (RA) 11439 that allows the establishment of Islamic banks in the Philippines. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said R.A. No. 11439 would unlock the full potential of Islamic financing in fostering inclusive economic growth. RA 11439 mandates the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to exercise regulatory powers and supervision over the operations of Islamic banks. The Trade department earlier said that several banks have expressed interest to open their branches in the Philippines, once a law on Islamic banking is signed. The banks were identified as CIMB, Islamic Development Bank, Qatar Bank, Credit Investment Bank of Malaysia and a Saudi bank.

Islamic banking law to unlock financing potential, foster inclusive growth —BSP

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) welcomes the enactment of a law putting Islamic banks under its regulation and supervision. Republic Act No. 11439 or "Act Providing for the Regulation and Organization of Islamic Banks" was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on August 22. In the Philippines, the potential market for Islamic banking products mainly comprises the Muslims which account for about 10% of the population. The BSP noted that Islamic banking can also be attractive to non-Muslims, particularly investors who may be looking for new asset classes, instruments and products to diversify their portfolios. An Interagency Working Group on Islamic Banking and Finance has been constituted to develop a regulatory framework for Islamic banking.

Global #sukuk issuance to equal $130bln in 2019

According to Moody's Investors Service, the value of global sukuk issuance is expected to increase by 6% to reach $130 billion in 2019. That forecast can be ascribed to the increase in sukuk activity in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, which manifested by the issuance of $87 billion sukuk in the first six months of 2019. Moody’s senior vice president Nitish Bhojnagarwala expects second-half volumes to moderate to around $43 billion, though Malaysia and Gulf Cooperation Council countries will continue issuing regularly. Key Islamic finance markets are working on adjusting their funding mix to support a long-term growth in sukuk volumes. As awareness towards the risk of climate change increases, the green sukuk market is expected to grow further.

State Bank issues updated Islamic financing facility

The State Bank of #Pakistan issued an updated Islamic financing facility for the renewable energy projects. The financing under Islamic Financing Facility for Renewable Energy (IFRE) is now available to the customers under three categories. Under the first category, the prospective sponsors are setting up power projects with a capacity ranging from more than 1MW and up to 50MW for their own use, or sell electricity to the national grid or combination of both. The State Bank of Pakistan will make Mudarabah investment in general pool of Participating Islamic Financial Institutions (PIFIs) under IFRE. IFRE shall be effective immediately and financing shall be available for projects up-to June 30, 2022.

UNHCR's Refugee #Zakat Fund raises $38.1mln; assists 111,209 families

The UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund has raised $38.1 million in six months and supported 111,209 families (648,476 individuals) across seven countries. The United Nations' refugee agency’s zakat fund is a Sharia-compliant structure that channels zakat funds to the most vulnerable refugees. It is a dedicated non-interest-bearing account in Switzerland. Due to generous contributions from donors across the globe, the fund surpassed the fundraising target of $26 million originally set for 2019. The largest three destination countries comprise Yemen ($13.5 million); Jordan ($0.7 million), and Lebanon ($0.6 million). The remainder of the funds are mostly assigned to help some 670,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and distribution is in progress.

ADIB UK provides Dh120m acquisition funding

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) UK has provided financing for The Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME) to acquire a Dh120 million (£26.95 million) Grade A office building in Edinburgh. The building is now leased to Centrica as their corporate headquarters in Scotland until 2035. The building has received several design awards including the Scottish Design Award for Commercial Interior and the British Council for Offices National and Regional Awards for Commercial Workplace. BLME is a UK Shari’ah compliant bank with a branch in the Dubai International Financial Centre, regulated by the DFSA. Boubyan Bank is BLME’s largest shareholder. BLME sources and co-invests in commercial real estate opportunities alongside professional investors from the Middle East.

Noor Bank collaborates with Unionpay international to launch EMVCo QR-based mobile payment solution

Noor Bank has partnered with UnionPay International to inaugurate the bank’s EMVCo QR-based mobile payment service that allows consumers in the UAE to make instant and secure payments on the go. Customers and merchants across the country can now leverage UnionPay QR code scanning for all their payments. The launch ceremony was attended by Han Wang, General Manager-Middle East of UnionPay International, and John Iossifidis, CEO of Noor Bank. In the UAE, UnionPay is accepted nationwide both on POS terminals and ATM machines, acceptance rate is 100% and more than 60% on POS terminals for the UnionPay card and QuickPass. The new solution is expected to create wider acceptance and increase the number of current QR-code-enabled merchants in the country by end-2019.

#Saudi Arabia warns against dealing in #cryptocurrencies

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Finance has warned against dealing or investing in digital currencies including cryptocurrencies as they are not recognised by legal entities in the Kingdom. The finance ministry stated that digital currencies are outside the scope of the regulatory framework and are not traded by financial institutions in Saudi Arabia, adding that such cryptocurrencies have been associated with fraudulent activities and attract suspicion. The use of Saudi Arabia’s name, national currency or emblem by any entity for digital currencies marketing will be subject to legal actions.

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