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#United Arab Emirates: The Securities And Commodities Authority (SCA) Launched A Strategy For Islamic Capital Market Development

The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) launched a strategy for Islamic capital market development. The strategy includes the supervisory role played by SCA, the role played by self-regulatory organizations (SROs) and the challenges encountered. SCA's role is to issue legislative regulations for the Islamic capital market, updates on sukuk and capital adequacy regulations, the introduction of shari'ah board governance system and the organization of training programs. Markets' role is to issue provisions regulating trading securities, update existing regulations and develop investment indicators for Islamic securities. There are numerous challenges facing the Islamic finance market. They include the high costs of Islamic contracts, the increased complexity of Islamic products, the difference in perspectives of Islamic law and the availability of trained and qualified human resources.

#Roundtable throws light on greater understanding of Islamic finance

Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) jointly organised the event entitled Shariah Governance in a Globalized World. It featured over 50 experts comprising Shariah scholars, Islamic finance professionals, academics, practitioners and regulators. Issues regarding Islamic jurisprudence were discussed as well as contemporary best practices in the corporate governance of banks. Some participants offered proposals on reforming models of Shariah governance of Islamic banks. Dr Haitham Mohamed Al Salama, chief economic adviser at the QFC, said contributing and collaborating in the field of Islamic finance was a key goal for the QFC. He added that such events were part of QFC's strategy to develop a world-class international business sector in Qatar.

IBs want property lending rule scrapped

Investment banks (IBs) want Bank Negara Malaysia to withdraw the property lending guideline, which was introduced in 1997. It stipulates that a bank’s credit facilities should not exceed 20% of its total outstanding loan base. Compliance with this requirement is calculated on a quarterly basis. For IBs, the guideline mainly affects their underwriting business. They think the guideline is outdated, especially since there are already other macroprudential measures introduced by Bank Negara in recent years. The Malaysian Investment Banking Association (MIBA) had highlighted the issues affecting the industry to Bank Negara. It is understood that the central bank is currently reviewing the guideline.

SEDCO Capital discusses #ethical #investment in forum

#Saudi asset manager SEDCO Capital participated in the Islamic Finance Forum in London as an associate sponsor. Several panels and workshops were held focusing on trends in Islamic Finance and European markets. Panel topics included the role of European Stock Exchanges in facilitating Islamic capital raising, Islamic corporate financing activity in Europe and the impact of Brexit. Kamran Butt, Managing Director at SEDCO Capital, participated in the panel discussion entitled "Responsible Investing: The Shift towards Green Finance, ESG & Ethical Funds". Butt said SEDCO's Prudent Ethical Investing (PEI) strategy created optimal risk adjusted returns by integrating Shariah-compliant investment approach with ethical investing. PEI stresses the importance of due diligence and transparency. PEI investment products are getting increasingly popular. International investors can choose from over 14 SEDCO Sharia-compliant investment strategies in Luxembourg with total AUMs of $1.8 billion.

#Mergers among smaller Islamic banking industry likely in GCC

There are several rumors about possible mergers of the smaller Islamic banks in the GCC region. According to UCapital, the relatively small size of Islamic banks is one of the compelling reasons for them to consider consolidation. However there is no compelling reason for a big number of regional banks to rush into merger deals. Banks across the region are facing pressure on profitability and tighter liquidity. The UAE, Bahrain and Oman would benefit from consolidation as many banks in these countries lack sufficient scale. A proposed merger of Kuwait Finance House and Ahli United Bank is expected to result in second biggest Islamic Bank in the GCC. Merger of Qatari banks Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar which was announced last year is progressing and is expected to complete by end of the year.

Danajamin issues RM500m tier-2 subordinated #sukuk

#Malaysian Danajamin Nasional has issued its inaugural RM500 million, tier-2 subordinated sukuk. It is part of a RM2 billion of senior and subordinated Sukuk Murabahah facility. The subordinated sukuk has a tenure of 10 years and is rated AA1 by RAM Rating Services and AA+ by the Malaysian Rating Corporation. The inaugural issue was oversubscribed, receiving a response of about RM800 million from a diverse range of investors. Danajamin CEO Mohamed Nazri Omar said that a total of 16 investors participated in the inaugural issuance and the sukuk achieved a yield of 4.80%. The issuance also sees Danajamin strengthening its regulatory capital level, enabling it to continue meeting its developmental mandate to stimulate the sukuk market.

IDB auctions $1.25 billion five year #Sukuk

Warba Bank participated in the launch of the Islamic Development Bank’s (IDB) most recent Sukuk issuance. The IDB has issued a five-year $1.25 billion Sukuk at an annual return of 2.661%. In terms of the final allocation, 53% of the issue size has been allocated to investors in EMEA, while 47% has been allocated to Asia. 57% of the issue size has been allocated to central banks and official agencies, while 43% has been allocated to banks and fund managers. Shaheen Hamad Al Ghanim, CEO of Warba Bank, said he was proud to participate in IDB's latest issuance, which came in addition to the Bank’s launch of its $250 million Sukuk earlier this year. That has been a key factor in making the bank the first option to manage Sukuk issuances. Al-Ghanim pointed out that Warba Bank would continue its strategy and explore investment opportunities in the regional and international markets that yield maximum returns.

Christ Coin launches as first faith-based #cryptocurrency

Christ Coin has launched as the first Christian cryptocurrency. Built by Life Change, Christ Coin has a mission to meet the spiritual and practical needs of anyone and unite Christians together as one community. Following the initial crowdfunding period, anyone can sign up on the Life Change Platform and be monetarily rewarded by interacting with the platform. There are various ways of interacting, like volunteering, participating in small groups, posting content and even reading the Bible. Investment in the crowdfunding is not required. Luke Forstmann, co-founder of Christ Coin, said Christ Coin was an investment opportunity which goes much farther than personal finance. It is created to change lives, support ministries and inspire people to grow in their faith. As with other cryptocurrencies, Christ Coin will offer quarterly buybacks and burn of coins. This allows Christ Coin to grow and increase the currency value.

#UAE court postpones judgment at Dana Gas #sukuk hearing - source

A judge at a United Arab Emirates court has postponed the ruling in the Dana Gas sukuk case. Dana is refusing to make payments on the sukuk, which will mature this month. It argues that changes in Islamic finance over recent years have made the bonds unlawful in the UAE. The postponement means the next major development in the dispute may occur in a London High Court, where fund manager BlackRock and Deutsche Bank are representing the sukuk holders. In late September, High Court judge George Leggatt said he would adjourn the London trial until October 12.

#Kuwait's Warba Bank part of IDB's USD 1.2 billion venture

Warba Bank announced that it will be partaking in a USD 1.25 billion five-year joint venture with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Warba Bank said that subscription for the deal had attracted regional and international financial institutions. The amount of issued bonds reached over 136%, around USD 1.7 billion. Warba Bank indicated that it would reap around 2.6% of annual income due to the deal. The IDB issued around 53% of the bonds to investors from the MENA region and Europe, while 47% of the bonds target investors from Asia.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank says its ramping up spending on digital technologies

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) is planning to spend significant financial resources on digital technology this year. The lender is not rushing to downsize its branch network, as clients continue to value human interaction. According to Phil King, head of retail banking at ADIB, the bank is also planning to open three to five branches across the UAE next year. King noted that while mobile banking transactions at ADIB rose 49% in the first half of the year, there was a 10% drop in visits made by customers to the bank’s branches in the same period. He added that new branches would be smaller in size, ranging between 35 to 70 square meters versus the larger ones of the past. As a result of the bank’s increase in consumer lending, ADIB’s retail staff has grown 7% so far this year to 247 employees compared to a year-earlier period. ADIB's second-quarter net profit rose 8.7%, beating analyst forecast, thanks to a drop in provisions, gains in income from credit cards and other fee products.

Responsible Investing: Shariah-compliant #microfinance investment fund eyeing Asean opportunities

Investing in microfinance institutions (MFIs) has become increasingly popular in the last decade. According to a 2016 report, microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs) have seen capital inflows of US$1.1 billion per year since 2006. The market size at end-2015 was US$11 billion, a fivefold increase from US$2.1 billion in 2006. While MIVs usually target countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the report points out that Asia has witnessed the largest growth in this respect. Matthew Martin, founder of microfinance investment fund Blossom Finance, points out that microfinance can better serve the needs of communities than the top-down, one-size-fits-all model of retail banking. The fund is currently limited to US accredited investors due to legal issues, but Martin hopes to open it up to other investors too. Blossom Finance only invests in shariah-compliant MFIs specifically focused on Indonesia.

SC and ISRA publish textbook on "#Sukuk: Principles and Practices"

In #Malaysia the Securities Commission (SC) and The International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA) have released a joint publication on "Sukuk: Principles & Practices". The textbook was launched by His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah. The new textbook focuses on the theories and practices governing sukuk across various jurisdictions while adopting a global perspective. Is serves as a source of reference to academicians, students and practitioners to gain greater understanding on sukuk. Recently, Malaysia witnessed the issuance of the world’s first green sukuk under SC’s Sustainable & Responsible Investment (SRI) Sukuk framework. This affirmed the country’s position as a leading Islamic finance marketplace and centre for sustainable finance.

Etiqa, ethics and #insurtech

Insurance technology or insurtech strives to innovate the insurance business of risk management. As a subset of fintech, insurtech uses big data to form a precise risk profile of the subject that is being covered. According to Maybank Ageas CEO Kamaludin Ahmad, one example is the telematics system in vehicle-monitoring. He said the intended market would include logistics companies, delivery companies and even small-medium enterprises with only three to five vehicles. Kamaludin believes insurtech can be sold and will be beneficial to people. However, it requires a change of mindset. Maybank Ageas and its household brand Etiqa Takaful are dominating the market share, capturing over half the total insurance and takaful market. Some argue that the size of the Maybank-Etiqa insurance is too big, to the extent of being deemed a monopoly. Kamaludin thinks Maybank is far from monopolising anything, the focus is not on pushing sales, but on being the best in the sector.

Bank AlJazira Partners with ShoCard to Leverage its #Blockchain Identity Management Platform

ShoCard, Ateon and Bank AlJazira are working in partnership to launch the first-of-its-kind use case in the region. The use case uses ShoCard's blockchain-based identity management solution along with the KYC solution from SettleMint. ShoCard's technology can be used for password-less login, whereby user credentials are not stored on any computer. ShoCard also ensures no personal or financial data is exchanged during transactions, thus resulting in fast, trusted authentications. Expected benefits of the system include reduced cost for identity management, reduced fraud and improved customer satisfaction. ShoCard's use case samples are easy to develop and can quickly integrate into clients' infrastructure. ShoCard has a ready-to-go complete stack with patented technology.

An #Iranian Bank Has Invested over 26 million Dollars on #Startups

Iranian banks have decided to get more engaged with the country’s startup scene. According to Alireza Daliri, Deputy Director of Iran’s Vice-Presidency for Science and Technology, Bank Melli Iran has invested around over 26 million dollars in the country’s startup market. Daliri added that the Vice-Presidency had offered the banks to either establish their own accelerators or invest on large successful and on-going projects. Eventually, the banks decided to go with the latter. Daliri added that the Vice-Presidency has started negotiations with a number of Iranian banks such as Saderat, Sepah, Export Development Bank, Tourism Bank, Post Bank and Refah, but it is difficult to persuade them. Iran’s startup scene has witnessed exponential growth in the recent years. The number of knowledge-based firms in the country has increased from 52 in March 2014 to 2732 until October 2016, but lack of funding is still a major issue.

#Green #sukuk set to become sustainable #investment tools

Sukuk investing in environmentally sustainable projects has become increasingly popular in the recent past. In the latest development, Malaysia saw its first green sukuk in July, when solar power firm Tadau Energy came out with a green sukuk with a tenure of 16 years, raising 250mn ringgit ($59.2mn). Malaysia’s Securities Commission came up with a Sustainable Responsible Investment Sukuk Framework as early as in 2014. This regulation clarified that proceeds of such sukuk should be used to preserve the environment, conserve the use of energy and promote renewable technologies. The World Bank lauded Malaysia for its innovative approach. Another initiative emerged in the Gulf Cooperation Council. The Green Sukuk and Working Party was set up as a collaboration of experts in project development, environmental standards, capital markets, and Islamic finance. Founders include Masdar City’s Clean Energy Business Council, the Climate Bonds Initiative and the Gulf Bond and Sukuk Association. The group is now developing green sukuk for interested issuers, including governments, companies and development banks.

SECP introduces draft of Sharia Advisors #Regulations 2017

To enhance the credibility of Islamic financial services sector, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) introduced a draft of Sharia Advisors Regulations 2017. The new regulations are expected to professionalise Shariah advisory services. Companies would only be able to engage the advisors who would be on the SECP’s panel of Shariah advisors. To join this panel, advisors need to meet proper criteria and abide by a code of conduct that emphasises independence and objectivity. The draft of Shariah Advisors Regulations 2017 is available on the SECP’s website and is now open to the public for consultation.

#Malawi approves #Islamic #Banking, Sharia-compliant services

The Malawi government has approved to embrace the Islamic banking system, however not through fully fledged Islamic banks, but through the "window model" only. According to Reserve Bank Governor Dalitso Kabambe, bank supervisors will shortly be engaging with each bank to prove guidance on reporting requirements of Sharia-compliant products and services. Kabambe promised that as soon as the guidelines are developed, they will be shared with each bank. In relation to this, the Muslim Association of Malawi recently invited an expert in Islamic Finance who facilitated the meeting. The South African Mufti, Ismail Ebrahim Desai, a renowned scholar in Islamic Finance advised the government on issues of proper regulation and supervision.

Sultan Nazrin Says Relentless Support For #Islamic #Finance Is Critical

The Sultan of Perak State, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, spoke at the opening ceremony of the 14th Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum (KLIFF) 2017. He said Islamic finance has come far but there are at least six challenges at the moment. He said challenges at present include lower oil prices and changes in the global regulatory and supervisory framework. Sultan Nazrin said Islamic finance managed to cope better than its secular counterpart in terms of growth, albeit from a smaller base. Sultan Nazrin addressed the six challenges faced by the industry. In his view, the Islamic banking industry needs to improve profitability, the industry needs to maintain high standards of loan quality and corporate governance. Islamic capital markets need to grow at a faster pace, the negative trends of corporate issuances of sukuk need to be reversed. The Islamic equity market and takaful insurance need more development. Sultan Nazrin reminded that Islamic finance community must not be deviated from the objective of doing good.

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