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Guidance Residential CEO Talks #Fintech

The strategy of 'technology first' and the automation of everything is not how businesses usually start. The traditional barriers have been human and financial capital, as well as various regulatory barriers. Fintech starts with anyone’s business and applies a 'technology first' approach to that model. Islamic finance in the US has taken hold. There are several institutions offering Islamic financial products. They all have websites, a comprehensive online foundation and a robust social media presence. That used to be enough once you have overcome the traditional barriers to entry, but that is no longer the case. Experts predict that in the near future, no enterprise will succeed and flourish without the right fintech services in place. Guidance Residential, a leader in the US Islamic home financing market, was among the first to identify the trend and face that challenge.

SIBL wants to invest $2mllion in overseas private equity fund

#Bangladesh-based Social Islami Bank Limited (SIBL) plans to invest $2 million in a real estate-based private equity fund managed by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). The bank plans to buy 200 shares of Awqaf Properties Investment Fund (APIF) for $10,000 each. A 2% stake in the fund will be enough to give SIBL a seat on the APIF board. SIBL claimed that participating in the APIF equity would benefit it in various ways. It would optimise the facilities delivered to Awqaf customers and enhance the returns to investors. According to SIBL managing director Shahid Hossain, SIBL will get 90% of net income per certificate apart from yearly dividend. The secretary of Financial Institutions Division, Eunusur Rahman, said they would place a proposal before the Cabinet committee on Economic Affairs to allow local companies invest abroad after discussions with the Finance Minister.

#Bangladesh’s Islamic finance market in need for proper regulation

Bangladesh has a burgeoning Islamic finance industry focused on the retail market, but there is no comprehensive legal framework for the sector. Bangladesh has 8 Islamic banks and 15 non-Islamic banks that offer Islamic-banking services through Islamic windows. Currently, the Islamic finance sector in the country is led by Islami Bank Bangladesh which manages around 90% of Islamic-banking assets and deposits. Takaful is also growing in popularity. Bangladesh currently has 11 companies for both the life and non-life takaful market at a combined asset base of close to $1bn and a market share of 17%. The central bank has been working for considerable time on an industry-wide regulation to expand beyond retail banking. At present there are no regulations for sukuk issuances even though there would be huge market for both sovereign and corporate sukuk. Other challenges than the absence of comprehensive regulations are a lack of service diversification and a lack of a skilled workforce.

#UAE Central Bank warns against #Bitcoin

The UAE Central Bank has warned against Bitcoin, terming it as unofficial and lacking sufficient supervision. According to Governor Mubarak Rashed Al Mansouri, it can be easily used in money laundering and in funding terror activities. Al Mansouri also said the central bank has completed the formation of a committee for developing Islamic Sharia-compliant products in order to support the Islamic finance sector. On the level of the UAE financial exposure to global capital markets, the governor said local markets have a slight exposure as the existing liquid assets now account for 17% of the banking sector's total assets. He added that UAE banks are robust enough to deal with risks as they have sufficient capital on account of the rising level of individual deposits.

Islamic Development Bank (IDB) celebrates listing $1.25 billion #Sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai

Dr. Zamir Iqbal, Chief Financial Officer of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), rang the market-opening bell to mark the listing of a $1.25 billion Sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai. 53% of the five-year Sukuk issuance was acquired by investors in the EMEA region, while 47% went to investors based in Asia, with an annual return of 2.261%. The IDB is one of the largest Sukuk issuers on Nasdaq Dubai, with a current total of eight listings valued at $10.25 billion. The bell-ringing ceremony was attended by Hamed Ali, CEO of Nasdaq, as well as Azahari Bin Abd Kudus, Capital Markets Manager of the IDB. Dubai is a leading international centre for Sukuk activity, with Sukuk listings in the Emirate currently totalling $52.47 billion.

When money meets religion: Sharia compliant #pensions in the #UK

Pension schemes are increasingly attempting to understand their members' preferences. Exclusion policies over so-called sin stocks, such as alcohol and tobacco, is on the rise across the UK. The need for sharia-accommodating pensions is likely to grow. The UK’s Muslim population reached 2.8m in 2011, according to the last census. The biggest challenge associated with sharia compliance relates to its policies on investments, but sukuk can take the place of conventional debt instruments. Christine Hallett, CEO of Carey Pensions UK, which administers the Islamic Pension Trust, says sukuk is currently too expensive for the workplace DC default charge cap of 0.75%. The industry is faced with a circular problem. Lack of demand limits the range of mature markets sharia funds can invest in. Maria Nazarova-Doyle, head of JLT Employee Benefits, sees a current absence of demand for sharia pensions, but adds that sharia considerations are becoming more prominent.

#Saudi Arabia joins AAOIFI, bringing potential boost to finance sector

Saudi Arabia’s central bank has joined the Islamic financial regulator Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). The move could increase cross-border financial deals in the region, as guidelines will apply to all financial institutions within Saudi Arabia. Both conventional and Islamic banks will now be subject to the same standards, potentially encouraging deals with other Muslim countries. AAOIFI Chairman Sheikh Ebrahim bin Khalifa Al Khalifa stated that the addition of the Saudi central bank would help foster closer collaboration with the kingdom. Saudi Arabia may now hold ambitions of becoming a global heavyweight in the Islamic finance sector. However, it will face intense competition from Malaysia, South Africa and the UK.

Dubai Economy launches Sharia-compliant #smart #programme

Dubai Economy in partnership with Dar Al Tawreeq has launched a Sharia-compliant smart programme to offer receivables finance to suppliers dealing with government entities in Dubai. Dubai Economy is the first government entity to offer such a financing option to suppliers. Faster payment will support businesses in growing sustainably and maintaining cash flows. Businesses working with government entities can use the smart software developed by Dar Al Tawreeq to ensure liquidity by obtaining financing on their invoices. The programme also provides easy access to on-demand working capital for businesses at no additional cost. The programme was launched by Khalid Al Kassim, Assistant Director General in Dubai Economy and Haitham Al Refaie, CEO of Tawreeq Holdings. The programme emphasises the principle of public-private partnership adopted by Dubai in its evolution into an Islamic Economy Capital.

Islamic Development Bank to Research Sharia-Compliant #Blockchain Products

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is using blockchain to develop new sharia-complaint financial products. The bank's Islamic Research and Training Institute has struck an agreement with two startups, Ateon and SettleMint, to perform technical feasibility studies. IDB said that it was interested in asset exchanges that can settle in near-instant time. According to the statement by SettleMint, blockchain smart contracts can help automate the contractual processes for Islamic institutions. At the same time, they can also alleviate the additional administrative and legal complexities as well as redundancies associated with Sharia-compliant financial products. SettleMint's CEO Matthew Van Niekerk said he was excited to contribute to this project, thus to the financial inclusion and development of the 57 member countries of the IDB.

#UK savers struggling to make money should consider Islamic banks

Islamic banks are becoming increasingly popular with non-Muslim savers due to their attractive rates and their ethical principles. In the UK, Islamic banks come under the same governance as high street branches and other private banks, offering the same statutory protections under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This scheme means savers get their money back if a bank or building society goes bust, although there is a cap of £85,000 per lender. According to Robert Parker, founder of Holborn Assets, with Islamic finance profit schemes, after-tax return needs to be compared between schemes to judge potential before making decisions on return rates alone. Islamic banks offer competitive rates, although savers will have to be prepared to tie up their money for at least a year to access the best deals.

S&P report discusses whether #Fintech could disrupt GCC banks' business models

S&P Global Ratings believes that financial technology could reduce the profitability of some business lines of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) banks. S&P's credit analyst Mohamed Damak said fintech could impinge on retail banking, particularly money transfer and foreign-currency exchange. This would push some banks to adjust their operations through increased digitalization, branch network reduction, and staff rationalization. He added that fintech alone is not expected to have a significant influence on GCC banks ratings in the next two years. He believes that banks will be able to adapt to the changing operating environment through collaboration with fintech companies and cost-reduction measures. Furthermore, regulators in the GCC will continue to protect the financial stability of their banking systems. Fintech is not yet a negative rating driver. However, it will increasingly become a force to be reckoned with.

#Saudi Arabia's IDB Plans #Blockchain-Based Financial Inclusion Product

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) plans to use blockchain technology to develop sharia-compliant products to support financial inclusion in its member countries. The bank's Islamic Research and Training Institute signed an agreement with local firm Ateon and Belgium-based SettleMint for the development of the project. Blockchain involves a shared electronic ledger that allows all parties to track information, removing the need for third-party verification. The IDB said such features would allow for instantaneous clearing and settlement of transactions and asset exchanges, while helping eliminate counterparty risk.

Dagong and IIRA maintain the Ratings of Al Baraka Banking Group and revise the Outlook Upwards

Dagong Global Credit Rating and Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) have jointly maintained the ratings of AlBaraka Banking Group (ABG) at BBB+/A3. At the same time, IIRA has re-affirmed the national scale ratings of ABG at A+/A2. Outlook on the assigned ratings has been revised to 'stable' from 'negative' indicating the macroeconomic and political stability in ABG’s core countries. ABG operates through a globally diversified franchise spread across 11 jurisdictions in Europe, Africa and Asia. ABG’s ratings derive strength from the recent tier 1 Sukuk issuance this year. While the Group’s subsidiaries are individually governed by their supervisors, the Group maintains close coordination and oversight. Furthermore, Bahrain's institutional framework for Islamic banks ensures adherence to a strong framework for Shari'ah governance.

Interview: How #Bahrain Is Aiming To Position Itself As A Regional #Fintech Hub

In this interview David Parker, Executive Director of Bahrain's Economic Development Board, talks about the kingdom's efforts to position itself as a fintech hub. He recognizes that certain regulatory requirements can make it more challenging for firms to experiment. To mitigate this, the Central Bank of Bahrain launched a regulatory sandbox to help enable innovation. A number of accelerators and incubators have also launched operations recently, including the region’s first cloud accelerator, operated by C5 and powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). When determining the structure of the regulatory sandbox, the Board was in close consultation with the industry. An agreement was signted with the Singapore Fintech Consortium and advisory firm Trucial Investment Partners to support the local Fintech ecosystem. The Central Bank also issued directives on crowdfunding for both Shariah compliant and non-Shariah compliant platforms and launched a national e-wallet.

Warba Bank heads towards innovation breakthrough in Islamic banking sector

#Kuwait's Warba Bank announced its financial results for the first nine months of 2017. Net profits increased by 442% reaching KD 4.752 m compared to KD 877 K for the same period last year. The increase in the Bank’s total revenues was driven by strong performance of all business units. The total revenues reached KD 42.66 million at an increase of 63% compared to the first nine months of 2016. Moreover, the operating revenues increased by 70%, amounting to KD 26.800 million by the end of September 2017 compared to KD 15.741 million for the same period of 2016. Warba Bank's CEO Shaheen Hamad Al-Ghanem said that the Bank has successfully accomplished a number of deals most notably a strategic financing deal in the aviation sector in Kuwait. Warba Bank also participated in Sharia -complaint co-financing for the Ziraat Participation Bank of Turkey amounting $236 million. The Bank also participated in arranging the $400 million Sukuk issuance of the Dubai-based Miraas Holding for Real Estate Development.

#Arab Petroleum Investments Corp hires banks for dollar #sukuk -lead

Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP) has mandated banks to arrange a series of fixed income investor meetings ahead of a potential sukuk sale. The sale is that of a potential five-year benchmark US dollar-denominated sukuk. Meetings will start on October 19 in Riyadh and end on October 24 in London. Apicorp has hired Bank ABC, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC, KFH Capital and Standard Chartered Bank as joint lead managers and bookrunners for the planned deal.

Dubai Entrepreneur Launches Shariah-Compliant #Cryptocurrency Token

Dubai-based entrepreneur Com Mirz is set to launch a new Shariah-compliant cryptocurrency called Habibi Coin. The startup has already seen a staggering 750-member syndicate that is willing to invest in Habibi Coins with a $100-million initial coin offering (ICO). That is in addition to $3 million dollars raised by Mirza. In the same way that Bitcoin works as a decentralized payment system of digital currency with peer-to-peer transactions, Habibi Coin is essentially the bitcoin of the Middle East as it involves no intermediary. There is a significant rise in technology and digital currency that is paving the way forward in the Middle East. The Middle East is set to undertake one of the largest Shariah-compliant tokens, the Habibi Coin.

Ibdar Bank and partners acquire Boston office building for $48mln

#Bahrain-based Ibdar Bank has acquired a prime office building in Boston, USA. The deal is a collaboration with US property manager Lincoln Property Company and asset manager Ritz Banc Group and the total size is $48 million. The Boston property is a single-let building leased to Amazon Robotics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon Inc. The area is regarded as the "technology corridor", and is home to many well-known technology-related companies making it the epicentre of robotic innovation. The bank’s head of real estate, Bassam Kameshki, said the Boston metropolitan area has witnessed substantial growth within the technology and medical sectors. He ensured that Ibdar Bank will be working to add further value to the property and ensure a profitable exit scenario.

MITI approves RM1.6b under shariah-compliant #SME financing scheme

The #Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has approved funding totalling RM1.595 billion under the Shariah-compliant SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) Financing Scheme. Deputy Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan said since the scheme was started in 2012, 1,181 applications had been received but only 971 applications had been approved. He added that the scheme would be administered by 13 participating Islamic banking institutions and the Federal government would bear 2.0% of the profit rate. The rebate is specifically to assist the SMEs which carry out business activities in all Shariah-compliant sectors. Ahmad said in Penang some RM112.6 million had been approved to-date to 76 SMEs which were Shariah-compliant.

Dubai Aerospace plans #sukuk issue by mid-2018

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) intends to tap the Islamic bond market within the next nine months to diversify the company's funding. DAE Chief Executive Firoz Tarapore confirmed that the company intended to issue a sukuk very soon, but did not specify how much the company could raise. According to Tarapore, DAE wants to change its capital structure to include a higher percentage of unsecured debt. The company intends to be a benchmark issuer in the U.S. debt market. DAE has already raised $2.3 billion in the United States through a senior bond issue this year to finance its acquisition of AWAS.

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