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Islamic Fintech Startups On The Rise In Southeast Asia

Islamic fintech firms in the Southeast Asian region are providing digital services with wide appeal. The services—especially peer-to-peer financing and crowdfunding—can easily be used by the world’s 1.9 billion Muslims, and the tech-savvy firms are able to compete well with conventional Islamic banks. For example, Alami has a sharia-compliant P2P service to link funders with small and medium-sized businesses in Indonesia. So far, the company has steered P2P funding into over 30 businesses and is recruiting for expansion. Ethis operates a variety of sharia-compliant crowdfunding platforms. Its Indonesian housing venture has built over 8,000 low-cost homes with investments from 65 countries, and a new Ethis platform now provides crowdfunding for real estate projects in Dubai. Two other promising firms are Investree, a P2P marketplace for a range of business financing needs, and Ammana, with similar services.

British Museum to exhibit 150 works by Middle Eastern artists in new major exhibition

The British Museum has emerged as one of the foremost sites for collecting and exhibiting Middle Eastern art in the UK. Much of the museum’s prominence is due to Venetia Porter, its curator of Islamic and contemporary Middle East art. The 150 works on paper that the museum will show are not loans, they have been acquired by the museum. The exhibition in the autumn will be accompanied by a major catalogue of the acquisitions and a conference. Among its subjects will be those of conflict and exile, two key areas for recent art of the region, explored by well-known artists such as Dia Azzawi, Hanaa Malallah, and Hayv Kahraman. There are also works of Syrian artists affected by the country’s civil war and more recently from Lebanon.

Net profit of Emirates Islamic increases by 15 percent

In 2019, Emirates Islamic net income grew by 15% to stand at AED1.061 billion. Total profit rose by 8% to AED2.7 billion, and financing and investing receivables were at AED37.5 billion, climbed by 4% from end 2018. Customer deposits reached AED45.3 billion, which is a rise of 9% from end of 2018; recent and saving accounts balances show 63% of total customer deposits, as Emirates Islamic reported. Chairman Hesham Abdulla Al Qassim said the bank delivered strong results for the year, with net profit of AED1.061 billion, the highest ever in the bank's history.

Saudi based Alinma Investment stuns the market with their Sukuk Bond ETF launch

Alinma Investment has recently launched its Sukuk Bond ETF in order to provide a low risk investment vehicle for the end investor. The world is currently awash with volatility and there has never been a better time to reap the benefits of a well-diversified multi-asset model portfolio. Until the recent launches of Sukuk Bond ETFs, it had proven very difficult to construct a Model Portfolio for GCC based investors, but this is no longer the case and it is not out of the question that this opening up of the Saudi Arabia Government Bond market could prove a key step going forward for other investors outside of the region. Alinma’s stunning ETF launch has more than a USD300 million in seed, so this fund is already large enough to be used by institutional investors across the globe.

New cat bond an important piece of #Mexico’s social protection strategy: Government

Mexico has newly issued a $485 million World Bank facilitated catastrophe bond, the IBRD / FONDEN 2020 transaction and sees it as an important part of the country’s social protection strategy. The new cat bond will provide the country with a four-year source of parametric earthquake and hurricane insurance protection, replacing the maturing coverage of the $260 million 2018 issuance IBRD CAR 118-119. The Government highlighted that Mexico is particularly exposed to natural disaster risks, with some 40% of the national territory, and about a third of its population, exposed to hurricanes, storms, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The transaction was issued in four tranches, two exposed to different levels of earthquake risks and one each to Atlantic and Pacific hurricane risks.

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.

Dubai Islamic Bank shareholders approve Noor Bank acquisition

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) received shareholder approval for the acquisition of unlisted Dubai-based Noor Bank. With the acquisition, DIB will become one of the largest Islamic banks in the world, with total assets worth 275 billion dirhams ($74.9 billion). Shareholders gave approval for the acquisition through an increase of DIB’s capital from 6.6 billion shares to 7.2 billion shares, with a share swap ratio of 1 new share in DIB for every 5.49 Noor Bank shares, translating into an issuance of about 651 million new DIB shares. The deal comes after a wave of mergers in the UAE’s banking sector on the back of tougher competition and regulation, coupled with a slowing economy and a slide in house prices.

#Nigeria: Islamic Finance - Opportunities, Challenges and Policy Direction

Despite its growing acceptability around the world, there are untapped opportunities that can be accessed through Islamic finance in Nigeria. When the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) granted approval to the defunct Habib Bank to operate an Islamic banking service window, the attempt did not register a significant success but it kickstarted Islamic banking in the country. The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued Rules on Islamic Fund Management and Sukuk Issuance. Similarly, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and Lotus Capital have developed an Islamic capital market Index. The National Pension Commission had in 2019 issued Regulation on Investment of Pension Fund Assets which recognised Government Sukuk as one of the accepted classes of assets for pension funds investment. In all, the Nigeria Islamic Finance Industry is fairly backed by regulations, sound supervisory structure and fragmented legal framework.

Impact de la finance participative sur les Objectifs de développement durable (ODD)

La Société islamique pour le développement du secteur privé (ICD) et Al Akhdar Bank organisent une conférence et des masterclasses autour de l’impact de la finance participative sur les Objectifs de développement durable (ODD). En effet, l’impact investing ou investissement responsable devient une composante essentielle des stratégies d’investissements. La finance participative est considérée comme un levier fort permettant d’élargir les horizons de l’impact investing. Le lancement récent de ce marché au Maroc permettra aux acteurs impliqués de jouer un rôle significatif dans la mobilisation des ressources complémentaires. Par la même occasion, ICD apprécie les efforts entrepris par Al Akhdar Bank en matière de fédération des acteurs clés marocains autour des valeurs de l’impact investing.

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.

ISDB, LSE Plc Partner To Boost Green #Sukuk

The Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) and the London Stock Exchange Plc (LSE) have both pledged to partner to boost Green Sukuk globally. President of the ISDB, Dr. Bandar Hajjar, met with the CEO of the LSE Plc, Nikhil Rathi, to discuss ways of broadening their collaboration. Green Sukuk has recently emerged as a unique example of a Sharia-compliant impact investing instrument with strong growth prospects. According to the Climate Bonds Initiative, a total of $117.8 billion in green bonds and Sukuk were issued in the first half of 2019, up 48% year-on-year. The Climate Bonds Initiative has also identified the following eligible assets for green Sukuk: solar parks, biogas plants, wind energy projects, renewable transmission and infrastructure projects, and electric vehicles. Equally, they can be used to subsidize a government's green payments.

KFH participates in Int’l Invention Fair of Middle East

Kuwait Finance House (KFH) participated as a platinum sponsor in the activities of the 12th International Invention Fair of the Middle East. The exhibition is a platform which allows investors, creators, interested parties, official and governmental bodies to create investment opportunities for the private sector to advance scientific research. KFH is distinguished by a proven record in social responsibility, encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity among youth. In addition it sponsors digital transformation initiatives and implements technological applications. The International Invention Fair of the Middle East is the first of its kind that offers financial and promotional awards totaling more than 50 thousand dollars to achieve more support and encouragement for inventors and strengthening and supporting cooperation between investors and creators.

"Sharia fintech": Startups race to tap #Indonesia growth by aligning with Islam

Winning over conservative Muslims is both a challenge and multi-billion dollar opportunity for fintech firms in Indonesia. Questions about compliance with Islamic law are a significant hurdle for the adoption of digital payments and other fintech services. Indonesia's top Muslim clerical body has issued an edict deeming virtual money acceptable, as long it met specific conditions. To showcase the compliance of their services with Islam, fintech firms are organising forums with Islamic scholars and sponsoring religious festivals. GoPay has partnered with the Indonesian Mosque Council to enable digital donations, including zakat, or compulsory alms giving, in its 800,000 mosques. Some of the startups say they are finding their appeal extends beyond Muslims. One of them is peer-to-peer lender Alami, which has disbursed over $7.5 million in sharia-compliant financing to small and medium enterprises since May.

#Qatar- Masraf Al Rayan subsidiary to establish digital bank in Astana International Financial Centre

Al Rayan Investment is working on the requirements of authorising a new bank with an expected paid-up capital of $10mn and an authorised capital of $20mn. The new bank is intended to be the first full-fledged digital bank in the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC). Adel Mustafawi, Group CEO of Masraf Al Rayan said that Kazakhstan represents a new hub for Islamic finance in Central Asia, which offers considerable potential; while AIFC represents the optimal platform for Al Rayan. AIFC governor Dr Kairat Kelimbetov welcomes the decision of Al Rayan Investment to establish a fintech bank in AIFC. The new digital bank will focus on the development of Islamic banking products and investments facilitated by the application of cutting edge fintech products.

Family Bank in #Bahrain opens Seef headquarters

Bahrain's Family Bank has opened its new headquarters in the Diplomatic Area of Manama. The ceremony was attended by the bank’s board members, chief executives of contributing banks and economic personalities. The establishment of the Family Bank as a first social bank in Bahrain in 2010 aimed to boost the social security network by the activation of a micro loan-giving mechanism. The bank was set up through partnership between the Labour and Social Development Ministry, the Royal Charity Organisation, the Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait (BBK), Ithmaar Bank, Ahli United Bank and Kuwait Finance House (KFH). It won Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s award for supporting youth projects in 2013.

Dubai Islamic Postpones #Sukuk Amid Coronavirus Volatility: Sources

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has postponed a planned issuance of U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk due to market conditions resulting from the new coronavirus outbreak. DIB was planning to raise the financing on Feb. 26, but decided to wait for better market conditions. The potential deal received a good response from investors while it was being marketed, but volatility in the debt markets as the coronavirus outbreak intensifies would have increased the sukuk profit rate. All the Gulf countries except Saudi Arabia have reported cases of the new coronavirus, many in people who had been to Iran, where 54 people have died from the virus and 978 have been infected.

#UAE's Gulf Islamic Investments buys New York office building

Gulf Islamic Investments (GII) has acquired a property in New York, which brings the firm’s US portfolio to more than $230 million. The property is an office building in White Plains, Westchester County, with a leasable area of 220,000 square feet, and is currently over 90% occupied by more than 30 tenants. It is also strategically located, as it’s close to the Federal, Supreme, District and Country courthouses in New York. According to CEO Pankaj Gupta, the global economy continues to signal a low-interest rate regime for the foreseeable future, hence, GII sees that such long income assets can deliver high single-digit returns. He added that GII was exploring such opportunities in Paris real estate market as well, with the view of taking advantage of the impact of Brexit.

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