Bank Indonesia (BI) announced recently its plan to issue waqf based bonds as a social welfare mechanism. The Indonesian Muslim Intellectual Association (ICMI) will also launch the very first waqf venture bank this June. Waqf may become the new trend in Islamic banking for several reasons. Waqf funds can be utilized for equity-based financing, a financial structure considered ideal for Islamic values, but undervalued in the current Islamic banking and finance architecture. The nature of longterm waqf funds for investment will make a good source of funding for venture capital and private equity. The amount of money potentially generated under a waqf system is indeed huge. The value of waqf land is estimated to reach Rp 300 trillion. This highlights the need for a professional and well-governed management to create a waqf bank that functions well and is successfully implemented.
According to Fitch Ratings, a slowdown in Islamic financing growth in the UAE will reveal a deterioration in banks' asset quality as portfolios season more quickly. This will start to become evident as banks report their 2016 results. Financing growth slowed in 2016 and a continuing slowdown in 2017 is expected. Demand for Islamic financing in the UAE has grown rapidly with increasing customer awareness and wider adoption of Shari'ah products, especially among retail customers. Growth of Islamic bank financing in 2016 was expected to have been significantly lower than in 2015, although still higher than that of conventional bank lending. Newer Islamic banks with smaller franchises are likely to be affected first by the slowdown. Those that have been established for longer are likely to be affected later, and to a lesser degree, given their stronger franchises.
Algeria plans to raise money from an interest-free local bond in order to offset the huge fall in its energy earnings. The North African OPEC member has already cut public spending, introduced new taxes and reduced government subsidies on fuel. Finance Minister Hadji Baba Ammi said the new bond would not bear interest, which may help attract a greater number of Algerian buyers. The minister said bondholders would receive a share in projects that the issue would finance as an incentive. The government launched its first local bond last April, but it was harshly criticised by the religious community. While neighbours Morocco and Tunisia are developing laws for Islamic finance, Islamic banks and sukuk bonds, Algeria still has no legal framework for such operations.
Kuwait's Warba Bank announced the launch of a marketing campaign for sukuk to be issued with a total value of USD 250 million. Warba Bank's CEO Shaheen Hamad Al-Ghanim said the campaign targets investors in Kuwait and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, in addition to global stock markets. Al-Ghanim explained that the bank signed a deal with an international advisor to a new strategy for 2021, which is based on improving the bank's operations and further enhancing the quality of assets and diversifying sources of income. He noted that Warba Bank has previously obtained approvals from the Central Bank of Kuwait and Capital Market Authority, while the General Assembly has authorized the board of directors to issue sukuk.
Barwa Bank Group said it will spare no effort to gain the largest possible share of financing infrastructure projects in the country. Barwa Bank chairman Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said due to the national economy’s provision of promising opportunities, the bank will provide all possible support to the growth of the country’s economy. The group recorded strong growth in each of the financial position and profits, as net profit for 2016 rose to QR738.8mn and earnings per share reached QR2.49. The growth in the group’s business and the increase in its investment activities go in line with maintaining asset quality and risk management policies with total non-performing loans accounting for just 1.5% of the net financing portfolio.
Yielders has claimed to be the first UK Fintech company gaining a Sharia Compliance Certification. The equity-based property crowdfunding platform, founded by Irfan Khan, successfully completed the independent sharia certification conducted by IFC. Achieving the certification means that Yielders may significantly expand its market presence by operating across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Being compliant with FCA regulation, Yielders offers the opportunity for the public to invest as little as £100 towards buying a share of a crowdfunded property. Yielders explains that the UK Islamic market is one of the largest, most vibrant and dynamic outside the Middle East. Ethical Islamic investment is described as being crucial to the Yielders’ philosophy. Yielders only offer pre-funded investments to the retail crowd, meaning the assets are already generating an income.
The University of East London Centre for Islamic Finance, Law and Communities held a public lecture on 22 February 2017 focused on FinTech in Islamic Finance. The keynote speaker was Professor Volker Nienhaus. Professor Nienhaus dealt with four topics: Islamic FinTech and crowdfunding regulations, Shari’ah limits to innovation in FinTech, Shari’ah encouragement for FinTech solutions and the potential disruption of Islamic consumer banking by genuine trade credit. Nienhaus predicted that Islamic consumer banking could be disrupted in the future by genuine trade credit. Islamic-compliant cash rich e-commerce platforms could provide financial services equivalent to Amazon or Alibaba on a Shari’ah-compliant basis. These platforms could sell halal goods and approve Shari’ah compliance. These platforms could instantly check the credit worthiness of buyers and would have a higher credit risk tolerance than traditional banks.
The first act of business by the Turkish Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) will be the issuance of securities, while it will also focus on Islamic finance products in securitization. The fund will contact local and foreign investors for securitization over the next few months. Even though the Treasury announced that the transferred asset size was approximately worth $160 billion with an equity size of $35 billion last Friday, an endeavor is currently underway concerning the valuation and auditing of the transferred assets by the fund. According to a Turkish daily, Dünya, the fund is exploring various types of instrument models, especially in Islamic finance. For this reason, the issuance of sukuk is a major focus of the agenda for the fund.
Ajman Bank has signed a financing agreement with Saudi German Hospitals Group for the construction of Saudi German Hospital Ajman (SGH-Ajman). The planned hospital would be a 50- bed facility in the Emirate of Ajman. The total cost of the project is AED327.3 million, and the completion of all phases of the project and formal opening of the hospital is expected in 2018. The signing of the agreement was overseen by Mohamed Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of Ajman Bank, and Sobhi Batterjee, CEO and Chairman of the Saudi German Hospitals Group. Akram Khan, Vice President of Ajman Bank, said that the agreement includes providing a housing fund for hospital workers and a range of items within the framework of the agreement.
The #Malaysian government is encouraging investors from China to tap into the estimated USD3 trillion global demand for halal products by exploring business opportunities in Tanjung Manis Halal Hub (TMHH) in Bintulu, Sarawak. According to Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, Malaysia is a pioneer in halal certification ensuring the integrity of halal products and services through strict compliance with Syariah requirements. Awang Tengah added that the Sarawak Government had established the TMHH which covers an area of 124,517 hectares making it the largest among all the other halal hubs in the region. Among the investment potentials in TMHH he revealed is the cultivation of food crops, aquaculture, poultry and livestock, food processing, cosmetics, and health products. On another note, Awang Tengah revealed that China has remained an important trading partner as well as a major source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for Sarawak.
Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) has launched a comprehensive report on "AAOIFI in 850 Days". The report provides concise details, including infographs, illustrations, and statistical figures, covering AAOIFI's developments in activities over the period from September 2014 to end of December 2016. Dr. Hamed Merah, AAOIFI's Secretary General, said that AAOIFI embarks on efforts to enhance transparency as key to effective communication. Meanwhile, AAOIFI's statute was amended, and a set of 7 by-laws, policies and procedures, charters were developed. These include launching of AAOFI's Shari'ah standards translation projects (for Russian, French, and Urdu languages), and publication of AAOIFI's standards in paper and digital formats including a mobile app for smart phones. The section on strategic relationships cover AAOIFI's ties with stakeholders, specifically development of ties with institutional members. The report highlighted AAOIFI's keenness to further solidify its relationship with central banks and regulatory and supervisory authorities.
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank dismissed reports that it may merge with Al-Hilal Bank as consolidation takes hold in the emirate’s financial-services industry. Abu Dhabi is combining National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank and two sovereign wealth funds as it seeks to cut costs and merge firms with overlapping assets. The next step could be a tie-up between ADIB with Al-Hilal and a combination of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Union National Bank. Tirad Mahmoud said ADIB plans to stick to its core markets and strengthen its presence. He also said that mergers were a shareholder issue and there might be 'some pressure' on net interest margins this year. ADIB posted a 1% rise in 2016 net profit to Dh1.95 billion ($530 million) on Tuesday as provisions rose to Dh970 million from Dh820 million.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the current framework governing Islamic Banking contains many gaps that need to be closed through the development of a more comprehensive enabling environment. In a recently adopted staff paper “Ensuring Financial Stability in Countries with Islamic Banking”, the IMF calls for further strengthening of the legal and regulatory environment and institutional framework in countries that have Islamic banking. The study notes that Islamic banking has established a presence in more than 60 countries and has become systemically important in 14 jurisdictions. International guidance is needed to address the limited progress that has been achieved in developing financial safety net frameworks. Country practices have diverged on several important fronts. The emergence of hybrid financial products in Islamic Banking that replicate aspects of conventional finance in an Islamic Banking context has raised financial stability concerns. The IMF has been providing technical advice to member countries for the past 20 years and plans even more involvement in policy advice and capacity development.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said it cannot disclose the Finance Ministry's response about the introduction of Sharia banking in India. The RBI had earlier proposed opening of Islamic window in conventional banks for gradual introduction of Sharia- compliant or interest-free banking in the country. RBI was asked to give the copy of the letter sent to it by the ministry on the recommendation of its Inter Departmental Group (IDG) regarding Islamic banking.
The central bank had sought response from the Department of Financial Services (DFS) under the finance minister whether their letter can be disclosed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. As advised by the DFS, the disclosure of information would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the state legislature.
During the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges forum held in Rabat, bank president Bandar Al-Hajjar spoke about the strategic ties between Morocco and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Al-Hajjar noted that Morocco has received a total of USD 7.6 billion from the IDB since its establishment in 1974 and currently the bank is carrying out a number of projects estimated at USD 1.2 billion. Al-Hajjar also praised Morocco’s efforts towards renewable energy, saying that there is a bilateral cooperation between the IDB and Morocco to share Moroccan experiments in this field with Sub-Saharan countries. The IDB has supplied Morocco with several loans over the past few years. In 2014, the IDB amounted to MAD 1.8 billion to Morocco in order to carry out drinking water supply projects, as well as the olive sector for small farmers. The IDB has also embarked on signing agreement with partners to invest in Morocco. In 2014, it signed a joint agreement with Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) to invest in the Moroccan private sector.
Qatar International Islamic Bank approves capital increase of a newly established morocco-based Umnia Bank to 600 million moroccan dirhams.
Turkish participation bank Kuveyt Turk has received regulatory approval to raise 2 billion lira ($555.8 million) via sukuk, as it expands its domestic footprint while winding-down its Dubai unit. Kuveyt Turk, 62% owned by Kuwait Finance House , would sell the lira-denominated sukuk to qualified investors through its asset-leasing company, KT Kira Sertifikalari Varlik Kiralama, according to a regulatory filing. No timeframe or tenor were given for a potential deal. New funding could help the bank's plans to expand its branch network to 400 offices this year from a current 385. The bank increased its net profit by 22% and total assets by 15% in 2016. In December, however, the bank said it would terminate all activities of its wholly-owned subsidiary in Dubai, as it had not established a commercial advantage. It will continue to service the Gulf region via its branch in Bahrain, while concentrating on its operations in Turkey and Germany.
The Jaiz Foundation is set to kick start Islamic ‘Takaful’ Insurance in Kaduna, Kano, Lagos with head office in Abuja. As part of the final preparation, the Foundation held a week induction training for the staff of the organization. The chairman of Jaiz Takaful Insurance advised Nigerians to take advantage of the new insurance concept. According to Mananging Director of Jaiz Islamic Takaful Insurance, Momodou Musa Joof, the company shares profit by 80% to its participants who have not suffered losses. In the meantime, those who suffer losses would have been paid first before the distribution of profit. The elements which goes to the needy, which is called Zakat is also distributed before profit is shared. Prominent scholars like Prof Muhammed Nasirudeen Maiturare, the Vice Chancellor of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida University, also participated in the induction training for the staff of Jaiz Takaful Insurance.
Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) has carried out a 150 million US dollar Islamic financing transaction on the Murabaha platform of Nasdaq Dubai. Following high levels of investor interest, the initial target of 100 million US dollars was more than twice oversubscribed, resulting in a final order book of approximately 230 million US dollars. Banji Fehintola, Corporate Treasurer of AFC, expressed his gratitude to Nasdaq Dubai whose Murabaha platform greatly facilitated the issuance. AFC’s Sukuk, issued on January 24, 2017, is the highest rated USD Sukuk issuance from an African entity. The privately placed Murabaha Sukuk was awarded an A3 senior unsecured rating by Moody's Investors Service.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released its guidelines for the Islamic finance sector. The guidelines noted the need to develop a policy framework in the countries where Islamic banking has become systemically important. While accounting for a small share of global financial assets, Islamic banking has established a presence in more than 60 countries and has become systemically important in 14 jurisdictions.
Although Pakistan finished the IMF loan programme last year, there are still numerous reforms that need to be undertaken. In recent years, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has made efforts for the promotion of Islamic banking, but no real effort has been made by the private sector and the government. The growth of Islamic banking poses new challenges and risks for regulatory and supervisory authorities. The IMF has proposed support for developing and providing policy advice on Islamic banking-related issues in the context of fund surveillance, programme design, and capacity development activities.