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Bitcoin Mania versus Tulip Mania?

Dear Reader,

regular readers may remember my critic on bitcoin from an Islamic perspective missing intrinsic value. The former blog entry you find here: http://www.islamicfinance.de/?q=node/7840 - almost two years ago.

So far bitcoin just went up higher and higher, with wild fluctuations but nevertheless.

It reminds on how bubbles work, think about the tulip mania in 1637 a nice piece of economic history. A single tulip bulb was traded and bought on credit. Check the Wiki page on it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania

As bitcoin has even less value than a tulip except for payment purposes, it is the payment functionality, which can lead to destruction. What happens if a new alternative currency is becoming en vogue, which has a better usability and faster transaction time? In my view this is most likely trigger to burst the bubble.

FT Alphaville covers now the difficulties coming up with bitcoin's increasing transaction numbers causing inconvenience in using the digital currency:

https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2017/05/17/2188961/the-currency-of-the-futur...

Sime’s #sukuk plan gets okay, crucial step to carve 3 listed companies

#Malaysian holding company Sime Darby has received approval from its bondholders to restructure US$800mil (RM3.46bil) worth of sukuk. Holders of the sukuk approved the company’s plan to buy back the papers or replace the borrower to Sime Darby Plantation from Sime Darby. The broader reorganisation of the group involves the proposed listing of Sime Darby Plantation and Sime Darby Property through share distributions. Sime Darby will remain listed, owning the automotive, industrial equipment and logistics businesses. The holding company plans to create three standalone businesses: plantation, property and trading, and logistics. Plantation and property would be listed on Bursa Malaysia, while trading and logistics would remain under Sime Darby.

#Qatar Islamic Bank's dollar #sukuk books top $1 billion -lead

Order books for Qatar Islamic Bank's planned dollar five-year sukuk have topped $1 billion. The senior unsecured deal is part of a $3 billion sukuk programme. It will be of benchmark size, which conventionally means upwards of $500 million. Initial price guidance for the Islamic bond was 145-155 basis points over mid-swaps. Citi, Emirates NBD Capital, HSBC, Noor Bank, QInvest and Standard Chartered Bank have been appointed to lead the transaction.

Islamic Development Bank 42nd #Annual #Meeting: Policymakers, experts urge more youth engagement in agriculture to fight unemployment, food insecurity

Leading international policymakers, experts and scientists have called for urgent action to engage more youth in agricultural production to tackle unemployment and food insecurity. More than 100 delegates from different countries gathered on the sidelines of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) 42nd Annual Meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Organized by the IDB and the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), the seminar looked at the challenges and problems facing rural young people. Participants agreed that the focus should be on resource-efficient technologies that work for young people and make agriculture a viable source of income. These technologies can include solar pumps, improved irrigation systems that use sensors to control water flows or automatically adjust fertilizer and pesticide application rates. Greenhouse and net-house technologies make high-value agricultural production possible.

The IFSB releases the Islamic Financial Services Industry #Stability #Report 2017

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has released the fifth edition of its annual Islamic Financial Services Industry Stability Report 2017. The Report finds that despite subdued growth conditions, the global IFSI has been able to sustain its total assets value at approximately $1.9 trillion in 2016. The Report illustrates areas that could be further strengthened across all sectors of the IFSI (banking, capital markets and Takaful), many of which will require measured efforts by the national authorities to address the emerging risks. Secretary-General of the IFSB, Zahid ur Rehman Khokher, stated that Islamic financial services industry withstood the challenging operating environment. However, it moved away from the double digit growth trajectory witnessed in the previous years. He added that this slowdown underscores the importance of strengthening the resilience of the Islamic financial system.

#CALL FOR #PAPER: TURKISH JOURNAL OF #ISLAMIC #ECONOMICS (TUJISE)

The Research Center for Islamic Economics (IKAM) continues to contribute in Islamic economics. Turkish Journal of Islamic Economics (TUJISE) started to be published by IKAM by 2016. It is is a peer-reviewed biannually published international journal aiming to promote new researches and perspectives in the field.
The mission of TUJISE is to present a forum in which scholars from around the globe discuss the possibility of development of new and alternative perspectives in the Islamic economics. We wish to have three kinds of contributions from researchers. We prioritize to publish distinguished and original empirical and theoretical research papers. We also publish book reviews that address current original studies. In review article and commentary section essays addressing any topic from different approaches with special references to the related literature will take part.

We call all researchers to contribute TUJISE. All the papers are evaluated in a double-blind review process and published promptly.

Questions about submissions may be directed to editor-in-chief, at info@ikam.org.tr

For further information please visit the website at www.tujise.org

ICD, stakeholders tackle opportunities, challenges

On the occasion of the Islamic Development Bank Group 42nd annual meeting, the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) organized a side event entitled ICD Clients Day. During the event, ICD seized the opportunity to meet with potential clients and stakeholders from private sectors. In addition, ICD presented its achievements in 2016 and awarded its Best Clients for 2016, namely Coris Bank International, Vitamed Medical Diagnostic Center and Al-Qadi Specialty Hospital. ICD general manager Khaled Al-Aboodi opened the session welcoming all the participants. Later on, Thomson Reuters presented the last edition of the Islamic Finance Development report. The event was a chance to share knowledge, to assess new opportunities and to network with the decision-makers, industry leaders and experts.

As #fintech startups drive innovation in the finance sector, the banking industry looks to catch up as demand for digital services increases

International banking group BNP Paribas, in partnership with startup accelerator Plug and Play, is searching for the brightest minds to develop innovative banking solutions. From June 9 to 11, the bank will host 36-hour hackathons across Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Luxembourg, Nanjing, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, Singapore, and Warsaw, open to startups with various fields of expertise. The Singapore hackathon is looking for startups focused on AI chatbots, natural language processing, data aggregation, and analytics. The hackathon will culminate in a pitching event where startups will demonstrate and present their solutions to fintech experts. The winners will get an opportunity to engage in a 5-month co-working phase with BNP Paribas and S$10,000 prize money. At the end of the co-working phase, selected startups will go on a final pitch event in Paris. The final winning team will be announced in December 2017 and will win a cash prize of 10,000 euros.

Islamic finance transaction broadens investor base for the Africa Finance Corporation

In 2016 the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) sought to raise financing at competitive pricing levels to fund a number of new infrastructure projects in Africa. It also aimed to diversify its investor base in the process. This objective was achieved through the successful issue of a Murabahah Sukuk. The AFC initially sought to raise US$100 million, but upsized its issuance o $150 million and was still oversubsribed. Emirates NBD Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Rand Merchant Bank acted as joint bookrunners and joint lead managers. Emirates NBD Capital also acted as the sole global coordinator. This transaction was awarded the 2017 Deal of the Year in the category Islamic Finance in Africa by The Banker magazine.

IDB/World Bank #report details role of Islamic finance in ending poverty

A report published by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group and World Bank Group has outlined the potentials of Islamic finance in curbing income inequality and ending poverty worldwide. The report was unveiled by IDB President, Dr Bandar Hajjar, on the sides of the 42nd Annual Meeting of the IDB Group in Jeddah. It details the trends in Islamic finance, identifies the major challenges and recommends policy interventions to leverage Islamic finance. The report notes that the Islamic banking sector needs innovative risk-sharing products and services, enhanced scale and access to Islamic finance, improved liquidity and stability, and bolstered human capital and literacy in Islamic finance. The report also provides an overview of recent policy initiatives taken by several IDB member countries to promote shared prosperity.

UNICEF: 29 Million Children Live in #Poverty in the Middle East

A UNICEF study covering 11 countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) states that at least 29 million children live in poverty, one in four children in the region. The analysis said that children were deprived of the minimum requirements in two or more of the most basic life necessities. These include basic education, decent housing, nutritious food, quality healthcare, safe water, sanitation and access to information. It added that lack of education was one of the key factors of inequality and poverty for children. The study showed that almost half of all children were not fully immunized or were born to mothers who did not get birth assistance. UNICEF also revealed that one in five children were forced to walk more than 30 minutes to fetch water, adding that more than one third of children live in homes with no tap water.

Alizz islamic bank launches Tharwa Wealth Management

Alizz islamic bank recently celebrated the launch of the Tharwa Wealth Management Segment. Tharwa offers an array of financial services led by a team of seasoned relationship managers. Tharwa customers benefit from a selection of exclusive privileges including access to special discounts on travel, accommodation, restaurants, entertainment and various VIP services. Furthermore, Tharwa customers can enjoy the privacy of the Tharwa lounges in conducting their banking transactions, as well as the MasterCard World Credit Card. Tharwa customers also have the flexibility to manage their money through the Izdihar sweep savings account, which adheres to the Islamic principle of unrestricted Mudarabah.

Qatari investors focus on #US #property market

Qatari investors are increasingly looking for opportunites in the booming US propery market. Just Real Estate (JRE) has recently launched its new US portfolio, while QInvest announced its US mulitifamily residential-focused real estate fund Magnolia Real Estate Fund. The fund completed its first acquisition of an outstanding asset in Colorado, US. QInvest has been investing in Western Europe, UK and US for the past 5-6 years. JRE recently added two upscale addresses in Miami and New York City to its ever-growing portfolio of luxury developments in Qatar. Qatar, as a country, is becoming a big player in the New York City’s real estate market, with unconfirmed reports showing Qatar Investment Authority ranking the city's ninth-largest commercial property owner.

New Shariah #standards for Islamic financing, banking launched in Dubai

A set of new Shariah standards for Islamic banking and financing have been launched by the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). The launching ceremony was attended by Islamic finance scholars and specialists from across the region. The recently issued Shariah standards include No.(55) Competitions and Prizes Standard, No.(56) Liability of Investment Manager Standard, No.(57) Gold and its Trading Controls Standard and No.(58) Repurchase Standard. These standards are deemed important Shariah reference for the industry, including legislative bodies, regulatory authorities and financial institutions. They are also important to other professional entities such as law firms, accounting and consultancy firms, universities, academic institutions and research centres.

No big surge in bank #mergers expected in the #GCC

According to analysts, GCC’s banking sector is not expected to see a big surge in mergers and acquisitions. National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) and First Gulf Bank (FGB) in the UAE recently merged to create the largest bank in the UAE. Masraf Al Rayan, International Bank of Qatar and Barwa Bank are in the due diligence phase of a planned three-way merger that would create the largest Islamic bank in Qatar. Saudi British Bank and Alawwal Bank are discussing a potential merger that would create the third-largest bank in Saudi Arabia. Despite market conditions and numerous rumours, a big surge in mergers is unlikely due to structural impediments. Some countries have only a small number of local banks, which limits competition. This means that profitability has remained solid despite the macroeconomic pressures. Thus, there is no compelling reason for a big number of regional banks to rush into merger deals.

Hogan Lovells advises on the first #Sukuk to be listed on ISE's Global Exchange market

Hogan Lovells has advised Aktif Bank on the first Sukuk ever to be listed on the Global Exchange Market of the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE). The $118million Sukuk was issued under a mudarabah structure with GAP Insaat Yatirim ve D?s Ticaret, a Turkish construction company. While the Irish Stock Exchange has listed Sukuk historically, this is the first Sukuk to be listed on the ISE's Global Exchange Market. The Hogan Lovells team was led by Imran Mufti (Partner, Dubai), with support from Annalisa Feliciani (Counsel, Rome), Ahmet Kalafat (Senior Associate, Dubai) and trainees Marjun Parcasio and Luigi de Angelis. Onur Aksoy from Aktif Bank said this Sukuk represents a milestone for Islamic capital markets originating out of Turkey. He added that Aktif Bank was pleased to work with the Hogan Lovells team, benefitting from their deep understanding of Islamic finance and capital markets.

Islamic Development Bank launches Innovation #Forum to empower youth

The week-long Innovation Forum hosted by the Islamic Development Bank brought together international experts as well as youth to discuss ways to foster an innovation culture. Experts agree that the major challenges of the IDB member countries include cultural barriers, lack of adequate investment in research and development and a low rate of graduates in scientific fields. Dr. Mimics Begivic, innovation specialist at the UNDP Regional Center for Europe and CIS, said that youth unemployment is a stubborn problem faced by countries that has both a direct and indirect cost on governments. Dr. Nabeel Koshak, president of Baha University, said that there remains a gap in funding to support SMEs in the Islamic world. In Saudi Arabia, the last five years have seen a boost in innovation. Dr. Koshak said the major obstacles for Saudi SMEs are the regulations, followed by competing and entering the market.

$453 million in infrastructure projects for Islamic Development Bank members

A total of $453 million worth of infrastructure projects for five member states has been approved by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). The approval was given ahead of its annual meeting of the Board of Governors on 17-18 May 2017 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. IDB also approved three special assistance projects worth $580,000 for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kenya and Rwanda. The President of IDB, Dr. Bandar Hajjar, underlined the role of infrastructure projects in order to accelerate development activities. He notied that the meeting addressed in detail youth economic empowerment and the significant opportunities created for youth through infrastructure projects.

Islami Bank transfers executive in a move to curb Jamaat's control

Islami Bank Bangladesh has removed the head of its human resource division amid a war between the old guard belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami and newly-appointed executives. The removed executive, Md Mahboob Alam, is also an executive vice president of the bank. The bank's board of directors took the decision to remove him from the division on Saturday. The new leadership of the bank are fighting for control of the bank with Jamaat supporters after taking charge five months ago. Vice-Chairman Professor Syed Ahsanul Alam Parvez said Mahboob was removed from the human resource division because he was appointing Jamaat loyalists to top posts of the bank. Another director, Professor Dr Qazi Shahidul said that Jamaat supporters were conspiring in various ways because they plan to take back control of the bank after changes through the next election.

‘Islamic finance is not religious, but ethical business’

Professor Binta Tijani Jibril is the Director of International Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance, Bayero University, Kano State. In this article she talks about Islamic finance and its role in Nigeria. She believes that Islamic findance will help Nigerians in general in the sense that it will increase financial inclusion. The main challenge in Nigeria is how to educate the people to create awareness of this financial model. Bayero University has now short training programs, a masters degree in Islamic finance and very soon a doctorate programme we will start. There is also a special programme for journalists. According to Professor Jibril, Nigeria may soon raise sukuk, just like Osun state has done. It’s going to be about providing for infrastructure development as well as empowering the citizens. So Nigeria would be expanding and widening its reach into Islamic finance.

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