USA

4 types of data necessary for outcome-based financing

The U.N. General Assembly is underway this week, and the global development community has descended upon New York en masse. Impact bonds are just one example of outcome-based financing, where private investors provide upfront capital, repaid conditional on the achievement of pre-determined metrics. Although evidence is sparse on the relative merits of this mechanism, millions of dollars are being invested in their design and implementation.

Here’s why regulators are so worried about Facebook’s digital currency

Policymakers around the world have upped the pressure on libra, the digital currency being introduced by Facebook, amid concerns it could heavily disrupt the global financial system. It appears to be a running theme from a number of regulators and lawmakers, who worry libra would compete with government currencies. That’s because Facebook is such an influential platform, with more than 2.4 billion monthly active users as of July 2019.

Libra de Facebook : une question de "sécurité nationale" pour le Trésor américain

La future cryptomonnaie du géant des réseaux sociaux pourrait être "mal utilisée pour blanchir de l'argent ou financer le terrorisme" s'inquiète le secrétaire au Trésor américain. Le promoteur du projet chez Facebook, David Marcus, sera auditionné au Sénat. David Marcus a déclaré ne pas être "très à l'aise" avec l'idée de monnaie digitale mondiale de Facebook qui aura "fort à faire pour rassurer" le Trésor et la banque centrale américaine, le Fed. Marcus avait balayé les sujets réglementaires, faisant valoir que l'Association Libra ne serait pas en contact direct avec les consommateurs et que ce serait aux portefeuilles numériques en Libra, comme le futur Calibra que compte lancer Facebook, qui devraient être régulés, notamment au titre des obligations de connaissance client et de lutte contre le blanchiment.

Wealthy #philanthropists call on themselves to pay more tax

A group of wealthy Americans have written an open letter to the 2020 presidential candidates in support of a wealth tax. The letter is signed by 20 individuals including philanthropist George Soros, Facebook’s co-founder Chris Hughes, Disney heiress Abigail Disney and Blue Haven Initiative co-founders Liesel Pritzker Simmons and Ian Simmons. The group outlined six key reasons why they are in favour of a wealth tax, including using it to fight climate crisis, boosting the economy, improving public health and strengthening freedom and democracy. While the letter refers to arguments against a wealth tax, the signatories claim these are mostly technical and often overstated. The letter further shows that polls indicate that higher taxes for the wealthy is politically popular.

US startup PayJoy unlocks smartphone loans for Asia's unbanked

American startup PayJoy makes it easier for people without a bank account or credit profile to purchase a smartphone on installment. The phones and loans are provided by third parties. What PayJoy provides is proprietary software that locks the phone if payments are not made on time, making the device unusable. Once the missed installments are paid, the phone is unlocked and can be used as normal. According to PayJoy, its technology can do more than just put smartphones in users' hands. Customers' payment histories are reported back to local credit bureaus, which serves to build up credit profiles. PayJoy aims to expand in emerging markets such as Asia, particularly in India and Indonesia. In most markets, PayJoy partners up with local mobile makers, distributors and lending institutions. The company then takes a cut from every loan originated using its technology, a business model that lowers costs as well as risks for PayJoy.

For $83,000, Harvard teaches rich kids how to do good (and make money)

In collaboration with the World Economic Forum, Harvard University and the University of Zurich have launched a course called "Impact Investing for the Next Generation". In this context, that generation means the heirs to some of capitalism's greatest fortunes. Participants had to pass an interview before paying up to $US12,000 ($17,240) for a week of classes in the US and Switzerland, not including airfares and board.

Faith-Based Finance

What caused the global financial crisis? And how can the United States avoid a repeat? Those questions have sparked endless discussions among economists, policymakers, financiers, and voters over the last decade. The crisis not only entailed the worst financial shock and recession in the United States since 1929; it also shook the country’s global reputation for financial competence. Numerous explanations have been offered: the U.S. Federal Reserve kept interest rates too low, Asia’s savings glut drove up the U.S. housing market, the banks had captured regulators and politicians in Washington, mortgage lenders made foolish loans, the credit-rating agencies willfully downplayed risks.

Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art Awards $2.4 Million in Grants

New York's Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art has announced fifteen grants totaling $2.49 million in support of arts and media projects dedicated to strengthening relationships between U.S. Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The grants are part of the foundation's Building Bridges 2018-2019 Program, which supports theatrical and literary programming, documentary films, hands-on workshops, and a "jingle truck" created by a Pakistani truck-art painter that will tour elementary schools. Senior program officer Zeyba Rahman said the projects proposed by grantees offer an inspired, inventive, arts-based approach to deepen connections between Muslims and their neighbors in the U.S. For a complete list of Building Bridges Grant Program awardees, see the DDCF website.

The Hajdari Group Unveils Newly Pioneered Sharia-Compliant Investment Strategies Option: 'InvestHalal' Wealth Management for American Muslim Investors

The Hajdari Group recently announced the creation of its newest, faith-based financial planning platform: InvestHalal. InvestHalal utilizes a strict code-of-ethics and series of standards established by prestigious global authorities like the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), and the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). Access to faith-based investment strategies has generally been unavailable in the United States to Islamic investors. President of the Hajdari Group, Zaim Hajdari said the Hajdari Group has finally remedied this oversight. InvestHalal offers asset allocation and investment diversification options, a wide variety of investment alternatives and services structured to individual needs: retirement, education, tax and estate planning, as well as other Sharia-compliant wealth allocation.

Wahed Invest robo-adviser expands with new Islamic index funds

New York-based Wahed Invest has launched two sharia compliant index-tracking funds under its robo-adviser platform. According to CEO Junaid Wahedna, the company's goal is to make every asset class available to Muslim investors. The new equity funds launched by Wahed will track indices that are screened by Standard & Poor's. The funds have no lockup period and only charge an advisory fee rather than a management fee. Wahedna added that a recurring deposits tool has proven to be popular among clients, most of whom are first-time investors. Wahed raised $5 million in seed capital last year. The investment firm is backed by Gulf investors and venture firms including Boston-based Cue Ball Capital and Dubai-based BECO Capital.

Hill International to Provide Project Management for Bank Aljazira Project, Supporting #Saudi Arabia National Vision 2030

Hill International has received a three-year contract from Bank Aljazira to provide project management services for Aljazira’s Regional Management Office Building in Riyadh. The project will be one of Riyadh’s landmarks, reflecting Bank Aljazira’s image and its alignment with the Saudi Arabia National Vision 2030. The project location is planned to be north of the Capital, in the center of new major developments for the next 20 years. Hill International provides program management, project management, construction management and other consulting services to clients in a variety of market sectors. According to Engineering News-Record magazine, Hill International is the eighth-largest construction management firm in the United States.

Saudi-based ITFC, Federated Investors to launch $300 mln trade finance #fund

The Saudi-based International Islamic Trade Finance Corp (ITFC) plans to launch a $300 million fund alongside U.S. fund manager Federated Investors. The sharia-compliant fund is expected to launch later this year and would invest in energy-related structured trade, supply chain financing and project finance assets of sovereign entities. The fund will be managed by ITFC with input from Federated Investors. The two firms have worked together on Islamic trade finance transactions since 2014.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Blossom Finance Launches Shariah-compliant #Microfinance #Fund to Invest in BMT Microfinance Institutions in #Indonesia via PBMT Ventura

US-based Blossom Finance recently launched a fund that will lend local-currency on the Indonesian island of Java via Permodalan BMT (PBMT) Ventura. Baitul Maal wat Tamwil (BMTs) are financial institutions that follow Shariah law. They provide savings and loan services primarily to people who do not use traditional banks. The new fund is Blossom’s first microfinance fund that is open to investment from the public. The minimum investment is USD 1,000, although US-based investors must be accredited before participation. Blossom is accepting investments into the fund in US dollars as well as the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum. In testing its platform since 2015, Blossom has generally returned investors annualized profits around 7% with terms of 6 to 12 months.

Gotta Have Faith: A Biblically Responsible #Investment Strategy

There are several ways for financial advisors to diversify an investment portfolio. For example, the James Biblically Responsible Investment ETF (JBRI) tries to reflect the performance of the James Biblically Responsible Investment Index. Indexing methodology screens out or excludes companies engaged in activities that are objectionable from a biblical perspective. This type of indexing methodology is a subset of the broader socially responsible investing branch of investments where investors try to achieve profitable investment goals while still adhering to one's principles. According to James Investment Research, JBRI is constructing a portfolio comprised of the most attractive stocks meeting Christian principles and criteria. The fund can be used as a core equity holding, an ESG option, or as a Smart Beta holding.

Margin #debt is at a record high in #US markets

According to the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, investors have borrowed a record $642.8 billion against investment portfolios. The leverage from this margin debt is a bid to increase returns, but it leaves investors vulnerable if asset prices decline. There was a market correction in February, but the question remains whether the recent correction was a one-off event. Either way, this is where the Federal Reserve has to be concerned about financial stability. When the credit markets become an integral facet sustaining asset markets, a sustained fall in asset prices can boomerang back onto the financial system.

Three Reasons Millennials Should Choose An Islamic Home Finance Provider

There are three main reasons millennial homebuyers should work with an Islamic home finance provider. The first reason is less debt, less stress. Guidance Residential’s Declining Balance Co-ownership Program is a smart, low stress way to grow home owners’ equity and achieve the American Dream. Shariah principles ensure that both parties enjoy the benefits of a transaction without exploitation by either party. Secondly, faith and finance can go together. Guidance Residential’s home finance program was developed under the supervision of leading scholars of Islamic finance and with federally mandated institutions like Freddie Mac. Thirdly, social justice is a concern for many Muslim-American communities in the U.S. Islamic home finance provider programs have always avoided the speculative and unfair practices that were prevalent in the housing market. Since its inception in 2002, Guidance Residential has grown to provide over $4.6 billion in home financing and is the largest Islamic home financing provider in the U.S.

US$50m of i-VCAP Islamic ETF expected to be subscribed

i-VCAP Management is expecting US$50 million (RM198 million) to be subscribed upon its initial subscription period via an initial public offering on Feb 9. The MyETF-US50 will be the first US dollar-denominated Syariah-compliant security to be listed on Bursa Malaysia. i-VCAP CEO Khairi Shahrin Arief Baki said ETFs are one of the fastest growing investment products in the world. The MyETF-US50 is aimed at providing investment results that closely correspond to the performance of the benchmark index, the Dow Jones Islamic market US Titans 50. According to i-VCAP chairman Tuan Haji Rosli Abdullah, the MyETF-US50 enables investors to access the US equity market in US dollars, marking a new chapter in the Malaysian capital market.

Wahed Invest: a Sharia-compliant #investment #robo-adviser

Robo-advisers are opening up investment advice to the masses. They can provide sound investment advice for a fraction of the cost of their human counterparts, making it affordable enough for those with as little as US$100 to invest. Junaid Wahedna has taken the robo-investment concept a step further, making it available for those looking for Sharia-compliant investment options. Wahed Invest charges far lower fees than those charged by a conventional wealth manager. The robo-advisor Betterment has accrued over $10 billion worth of assets under management in the US since its launch in 2008. Currently, all of Wahed’s clients are from the US and Mr Wahedna says it plans to start accepting international customers. The company has 50 full-time employees and it has offices in New York, London, Dubai and Mumbai. The company sees a lot of potential in India, having seen strong demand for Islamic investing in the country from its pre-registered clients.

#Bahrain-headquartered investment firm buys controlling stake in Mentor-based MC Sign

Bahrains's Arcapita has acquired 75% interest in Mentor-based signage and lighting services firm MC Sign. The deal is worth more than $100 million. Atif A. Abdulmalik, Arcapita's CEO, said the company was well positioned to acquire market share in a highly fragmented industry that is dominated by locally-focused, sub-scale service providers. Arcapita's investment in MC Sign reflects the firm's global presence, with offices in Bahrain, Atlanta, London and Singapore. The investment firm has been active in the Middle East too. In October 2017, the firm partnered with Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat to acquire 90% stake in Abu Dhabi's NAS United Healthcare Services. This was preceded by another deal through which Arcapita acquired logistics assets worth $150 million in Dubai.

#American University Offers Graduate #Certificate in Islamic Finance

American University is offering a graduate certificate in Islamic Finance to prepare professionals for both emerging and established markets. The curriculum includes courses that focus on the role of Islamic finance in the global economy and Islamic capital markets. For Ghiyath Nakshbendi, an executive at American University, the graduate certificate is a dream come true. He regularly brings in experts to speak to classes. Speakers who visit and Skype in include CEOs, lawyers and high-profile Islamic finance professionals from Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. Nakshbendi does not want finance professionals to be deterred by the "Islamic" in Islamic finance. Students enrolled in the certificate program come from a variety of backgrounds and religious traditions. He believes that the program will help redefine the way professionals do business.

Syndicate content