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Noor Bank collaborates with Unionpay international to launch EMVCo QR-based mobile payment solution

Noor Bank has partnered with UnionPay International to inaugurate the bank’s EMVCo QR-based mobile payment service that allows consumers in the UAE to make instant and secure payments on the go. Customers and merchants across the country can now leverage UnionPay QR code scanning for all their payments. The launch ceremony was attended by Han Wang, General Manager-Middle East of UnionPay International, and John Iossifidis, CEO of Noor Bank. In the UAE, UnionPay is accepted nationwide both on POS terminals and ATM machines, acceptance rate is 100% and more than 60% on POS terminals for the UnionPay card and QuickPass. The new solution is expected to create wider acceptance and increase the number of current QR-code-enabled merchants in the country by end-2019.

#Saudi Arabia warns against dealing in #cryptocurrencies

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Finance has warned against dealing or investing in digital currencies including cryptocurrencies as they are not recognised by legal entities in the Kingdom. The finance ministry stated that digital currencies are outside the scope of the regulatory framework and are not traded by financial institutions in Saudi Arabia, adding that such cryptocurrencies have been associated with fraudulent activities and attract suspicion. The use of Saudi Arabia’s name, national currency or emblem by any entity for digital currencies marketing will be subject to legal actions.

Beijing’s Belt and Road plans could boost the Islamic banking sector

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is expected to spur further development in Islamic finance around the world. Many of the countries along the infrastructure belt are home to predominantly Muslim populations, including Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The China-headquartered Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank had already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Islamic Development Bank to collaborate on various areas including Islamic finance development. Sukuk issuance had grown strongly in 2017, but Chinese issuers have actually pulled away since then. That’s been attributed to the complexities involved, particularly as standards differ across regulatory regimes with varying interpretations of Sharia compliance. Still, financial links between China and the Middle East continue to grow. The relationships have increasingly moved from just trade partnerships to joint ventures.

Kuwait Finance House launches open banking

Kuwait Finance House-Bahrain (KFH-Bahrain) has announced going live with advanced open banking infrastructure, which will allow it to partner with innovative fintech firms. The kingdom is one of the earliest global adopters of mandatory open banking, putting it at the vanguard of customer-driven change in financial services. KFH-Bahrain is one of the first banks to integrate a fintech through the launch of its KFH Jazeel banking platform in partnership with Tarabut Gateway, a subsidiary of Almoayed Technologies. According to KFH-Bahrain executive manager Mohammed Fahmi Hamad, open banking will allow bank account holders to consent to sharing details of their accounts and payments history to licensed third-party providers to make more aware financial decisions. In addition to that, customers will soon be able to link their accounts to independent licensed applications.

#Saudi peer-to-peer funding platform signs with SRB

Saudi peer-to-peer funding platform Raqamyah has assigned the Shariyah Review Bureau (SRB) to manage the Sharia compliance affairs of its crowd-funding technology. Raqamyah founder Ammar Bakheet said the company was developing faster ways of connecting funders with SME’s and also enact the spectrum of SAMA’s regulations in the Kingdom. Shariyah Review Bureau, founded in 2004 in Saudi Arabia and licensed by Central Bank of Bahrain in 2007 provides Sharia advisory services from setting up Sharia Boards to Sharia certification and Sharia audits. SRB founder Yasser S Dahlawi said the collaboration with Raqamyah makes SRB the preeminent choice of Sharia Advisor for P2P firms seeking to offer crowd-funding opportunities in the Kingdom.

Dubai Islamic Bank partners with Arada to provide home financing solutions

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has partnered with Sharjah-based Arada to streamline the home ownership process for buyers of Arada properties. The home financing partnership will allow property buyers to access highly competitive mortgage rates and exclusive flexible payment plans as well as rapid and easy processing without the need for a salary transfer. In the past two years Arada sold over 4,000 units in its two projects, Aljada and Nasma Residences. Construction on Aljada is well under way, with the first homes scheduled to be handed over in the first quarter of 2020. The lender is also opening a kiosk at the Arada sales centre in Sharjah.

Dubai’s Noor Bank launches 3.2 mln dirham #waqf #fund with Ajman Uni to benefit Islamic banking and finance

Noor Bank has launched a 3.2 million dirhams ($871,000) waqf fund with Ajman University to benefit Islamic banking and finance studies. The current pledge of 3.2 million dirhams will benefit one professorship and four scholarships. Noor Bank’s head of Shariah Dr Adnan Aziz said that four scholarships will remain on offer every year, as long as the fund remains intact and continues to generate returns. The waqf amount will be held in perpetuity but the returns on investment will be used to benefit the scholarships. The basic criteria of the scholarships is a combination of academic excellence and financial needs of students registered on a course at the College of Business Administration at Ajman University. The scholarships are available for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Noor Bank launches online #art gallery

Noor Bank has launched Noor Art Online Gallery, a new digital portal showcasing artworks from a range of galleries and artists in the region and around the world. Designed to display diverse genres of art, specially curated for Noor Wealth clients, the Noor Art Online Gallery aims to serve as a bridge to connect artists and high-net-worth individuals. The bank stated that the works are available for online credit card purchase by clients around the world and will be delivered to their doorstep. Noor Bank's Head of Retail Banking Mufazzal Kajiji said that art acquisition was a key area of interest and this platform would add value to the customer journey, as well as promote art and culture in the UAE.

IIRA reaffirms credit ratings of Al Baraka Banking Grp, upgrades its Fiduciary Score to highest among Islamic financial institutions in region

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has reaffirmed the international scale credit ratings assigned to Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) at BBB+ / A3 . IIRA also reaffirmed the national scale ratings of ABG at A+ (bh) / A2 (bh) with a Stable outlook. The Group’s fiduciary score has also been raised to the higher level of “81-85”, the highest among the Islamic Financial Institutions in the region. IIRA recognized the substantial contribution of the Group’s four key subsidiary banks based in Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Algeria. Moreover, IIRA said that the Group benefits from a wide geographic diversification with most jurisdictions possessing a low economic correlation, thereby improving the overall risk metrics.

Bahrain Islamic Bank Swiftly Ready to Launch Open Banking Services

Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) announced the launch of open banking services starting from 1st of July 2019. This is the result of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) and its directive to integrate all retail banks in the Kingdom with FinTech companies. The open banking services features two types of services. The Account Information Service grants customers access to their bank account data from different banks through a single unified platform. The second service entails transfers between different accounts through a single application. According to BisB CEO Hassan Jarrar, Open Banking is a game changer, offering new online payment channels without the need for credit cards or debit cards.

Moody’s upgrades AHB Sukuk Company Ltd.’s #sukuk programme to (P)A1 and its USD500 million senior note to A1 following guarantee by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

Moody's Investors Service upgraded to (P)A1 from (P)A2 the provisional foreign currency senior unsecured MTN rating of AHB Sukuk Company Ltd. The AHB Sukuk Company is a special-purpose vehicle established in the Cayman Islands by Al Hilal Bank. Moody's also upgraded to A1 from A2 the backed senior unsecured rating on AHB Sukuk Company Ltd.'s outstanding USD500 million senior unsecured note due 19 September 2023. The outlook on AHB Sukuk Company Ltd.'s senior unsecured note remains stable. The upgrades are driven by the issuance on 2 July 2019 by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) of a guarantee covering AHB Sukuk Company Ltd.'s sukuk programme and its USD500 million senior note, and follows ADCB's acquisition of Al Hilal Bank on 1 May 2019.

Noor Bank raises over Dhs500m for Azimut’s fixed maturity fund

Noor Bank entered a successful collaboration with Azimut (DIFC) to launch the largest US-dollar Islamic fixed maturity plan (FMP) in the UAE under a Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) domiciliation. Raising Dhs507 million in subscriptions within two weeks of its launch, the FMP that will mature in four years is set to provide an income of 5% per annum through investing in sukuk portfolio. Noor Bank began operations in Dubai in 2008 as an Islamic financial institution. Azimut is Italy’s leading independent asset manager (active since 1989). The parent company Azimut Holding was listed on the Italian stock exchange on 7 July 2004 (AZM.MI) and, among others, is a member of the main Italian index FTSE MIB.

#Saudi Arabia's Arbah Capital buys Glasgow's Sauchiehall building

Saudi Arabia-based Arbah Capital has acquired the Sauchiehall building in Glasgow, UK, valued at $76m (SAR285m), through a sharia'a-compliant investment structure. Arbah Capital stated that the acquisition represented a core long term investment and would help attain value at a time of uncertainty in the UK. The investment firm added that the Sauchiehall building aligned with its main strategy to focus on acquisitions of distinctive assets. The mixed-use property is a 2.87ha LG+G+6F structure, and features a multi-storey car park as well. Arbah Capital's CEO Mahmood Al Kooheji says this purchase enhances Arbah’s strategic alliances and relationships which further supports its position as an international gateway into the investment market.

#Kuwait's Warba Bank plans $500 mln #sukuk issue this year - CEO

Kuwait's Warba Bank is working to set up a sukuk programme of up to $2 billion with an initial $500 million issuance this year. CEO Shaheen Al-Ghanem said the programme is subject to central bank approval. After the initial issuance this year, the rest would be issued over the next few years as needed and the proceeds used to finance operational matters. Ghanem added that the bank was looking to start a new asset management business this year aimed at overseeing about $500 million in investments within the next three years. Its launch is awaiting final approval from the Kuwait Capital Markets authority. The bank is looking to increase its total assets to over 3.5 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($11.52 billion) by 2022 from 2.59 billion dinars. Additionally, the bank is competing to lead a 350 million Kuwaiti dinar ($1.15 billion) loan for Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) that will likely involve multiple banks.

UAE lender ADCB plans to cut 2,000 jobs post-merger: Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) is planning to slash about 2,000 jobs in the near future. In May ADCB, Union National Bank (UNB), and Al Hilal Bank merged to create the UAE’s third largest bank with 423 billion dirhams ($115 billion) in assets. Before the merger, the three banks employed about 8,500 people. ADCB started laying off employees once it began the merger with the two other banks. While the new entity retained the name ADCB, UNB was delisted and dissolved as a legal entity. Meanwhile, Al Hilal Bank retains its existing identity and continues to operate as a separate Islamic bank within the ADCB Group.

Sharjah Islamic Bank raises $500mln #sukuk

Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) raised $500 million in its debut Additional Tier 1 (AT1) sukuk at the lowest price of 5%. Accordingly, the bank’s AT1 Sukuk yield is the lowest in the region, down from 5.25% in 2015. The lender has received orders of $4.8 billion or 9.5x oversubscription from many investors, as well as nearly 209 individual orders from Asia, GCC, and Europe. SIB has appointed Citi, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank as joint global coordinators. It also hired Joint Structuring Agents along with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Bank ABC, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC, KFH Capital, and Standard Chartered Bank as the joint lead managers and joint bookrunners. The sukuk is a Non Call 6 years Perpetual Instrument which will reset to 6 years Treasuries in 2025.

S&P sees GCC move ahead of Africa in race for fintech adoption

A new report on the prospects for fintech in the Middle East and Africa has affirmed the importance of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. According to Standard & Poor's, the GCC's most advanced centres are Dubai and Bahrain. "The Future Of Banking: Fintech's Prospects in the Middle East and Africa" report identified five factors necessary to propel fintech adoption: human capital, regulation, financial capital, physical infrastructure and demand, either from established financial institutions or end users. It said North and Sub-Saharan Africa still lagged behind the GCC, where banking penetration stands at just under 80%.

Sharjah Islamic Bank mandates banks for capital boosting #sukuk

United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah Islamic Bank has hired banks to arrange investor meetings ahead of an issuance of U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk. Citi, HSBC and Standard Chartered have been hired to coordinate the deal, and they are bookrunners along with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Bank ABC, Deutsche Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, and KFH Capital. The planned sukuk deal will boost the bank’s Tier 1 core capital.

Dubai developer The First Group to issue $135mln #sukuk

Dubai-based real estate developer The First Group plans to issue $135 million in sukuk. The developer has appointed investment bank Shuaa Capital to arrange the planned transaction. The First Group specialises in hotel investments. It has completed 11 projects in the UAE to date and has seven hospitality developments under construction. This issuance is one of few debt issues in the pipeline in the Gulf region after business slowed sharply during the holy month of Ramadan, which ended last week.

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