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Not enough Shari’ah experts, lack of tax neutrality hinder Islamic banking in PH

One of the challenges of developing Islamic banking in the Philippines is that there are not enough Shari’ah scholars or Islamic finance experts. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) also noted the lack of tax neutrality as a challenge. In order to have a clear information campaign, the BSP issued the latest FAQs or "Frequently Asked Questions". The BSP also issued "Simplified and concise discussions on lslamic banking fundamentals" that cover the following major points: core features of the lslamic banking law; accessibility of lslamic banking to both Muslims and non-Muslims; key distinctions between conventional and lslamic banking; and requirements for establishing lslamic banks or lslamic banking units (IBUs) in the Philippines.

#Indonesia is finally waking up to Islamic finance

Despite its potential in sheer numbers of underbanked Muslims, Indonesia has been a slow starter in Islamic finance and is about a decade behind Malaysia. Only in the last few years, there have been some visible steps to support Islamic finance and lift its market share in terms of asset volume beyond the current 6%. The government of Indonesia on June 17 issued its latest Islamic bond, a $2.5bn global sukuk, amid strong interest from investors especially from other Asian countries and the Middle East. The sukuk was issued in three tranches, one of which was a five-year green sukuk worth $750mn. Thomson Reuters sees high future potential for foreign direct investment in Indonesia’s Islamic banking industry, for both the retail and the corporate sector.

#Indonesia issues $2.5 bln global #sukuk including $750 mln green tranche

The government of Indonesia issued $2.5 billion in wakalah global sukuk in three tranches. The 5-year paper of $750 million was sold as a green sukuk, while the other two tranches consisted of a 10-year tenor of $1 billion, and a 30-year maturity of $750 million. The sale was welcomed by investors with an order book that reached $16.66 billion, nearly 6.7 times the target amount. This global sukuk will be listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange and NASDAQ Dubai and the settlement will be carried out on June 23, 2020, with yields of 2.30% for the 5-year tenor, 2.80% for the 10-year tenor and 3.80% for the 30-year tenor.

Potential of Islamic capital market remains promising at home and abroad – Bursa chairman

According to Bursa Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, the potential of the Islamic capital market remains promising both in Malaysia and abroad. During his keynote address at the Shariah Investing Virtual Conference 2020 Abdul Wahid said that in Malaysia alone, the industry of Islamic funds had demonstrated impressive growth. As of March, syariah funds stood at RM170 billion, representing 23% of total industry assets under management (AUM). Syariah unit trust funds' net asset value (NAV) stood at RM99 billion. Abdul Wahid added that there are opportunities for further product innovation and development to provide investors with more syariah-based products.

#Malaysia’s Islamic finance sector to hit RM3t this year, says Bursa chairman

Malaysia’s Islamic finance sector is expected to sustain double-digit growth to reach almost RM3 trillion in 2020 under the second Capital Market Masterplan. The chairman of Bursa Malaysia, Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, said the country’s Islamic funds industry has demonstrated impressive growth. The country is the third-largest market for global Islamic finance products and the world’s largest Sukuk issuer. At Bursa Malaysia 79% of the listed companies are Shariah-compliant and Shariah market capitalisation makes up 70% of the total market capitalisation of RM1.6 trillion. Over the last ten years Shariah indices consistently outperformed its conventional counterparts. Thus, Shariah-compliant investments are an attractive source of value for investors.

International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation Signs US$15 million Murabaha Financing Facility to support SMEs in Bangladesh

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) has approved a US$15 million Murabaha Financing Facility in favour of City Bank Limited in Bangladesh to support the Bank’s private sector businesses. The financing comes at a critical time as SMEs in Bangladesh and other OIC member countries face the social and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The financing is part of the COVID-19 Response Package through the provision of medical supplies, staple foods and fertilizer for agricultural production to OIC countries including Bangladesh, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, the Maldives and Senegal.

#Indonesia raises $681.74mln from Islamic bonds auction, above target

Indonesia raised 9.5 trillion rupiah ($681.74 million) from sukuk, more than the indicative target of 7 trillion rupiah. The weighted average yields for the sukuk sold on Tuesday were lower than comparable notes sold at the previous auction on May 18. Incoming bids reached 28.64 trillion rupiah, compared to 18.85 trillion rupiah in the previous auction.

‘Hibah’ best tool to resolve Muslim inheritance issues: Experts

When Muslims fail to draw up a will outlining the proportion of distribution of their assets to their heirs, families resort to faraid, the Islamic law of inheritance, which can lead to disputes. According to sociologist Prof Datuk Dr Mohammad Shatar Sabran, many Malays are still not aware of the importance of naming the heirs to their estate beforehand. The concept of hibah would be an alternative and more effective way. It refers to the transfer of legal and beneficial ownership of assets from the donor to the beneficiary on a voluntary basis, with the proportion and distribution to heirs and non-heirs being determined by the donor. Money left in accounts without the hibah instrument is categorised as part of the estate of the deceased account holder and, as such, the heir will have to go through a lengthy application process to claim the money.

The Majority of #Indonesia’s Shariah-Compliant Fintech Firms are Using the P2P Business Model

The steady rise and adoption in Sharia Fintech has transformed Indonesia’s trillion dollar economy. The majority of Shariah-compliant Fintechs in Indonesia use the P2P model, which usually works well with the profit-sharing model. Sharia Fintechs tend to focus on initiatives that support low-income and underserved segments of the population. Dody Dedy Waluyo, deputy governor of Indonesia’s central bank, says that there should be even more demand for halal or Islamic financial products. He notes that around 40% of the country’s GDP is generated from the Sharia economy.

#Indonesia government partners with biggest Islamic organization to set up 10,000 grocery stores

Indonesia’s Ministry for Economic Affairs is teaming up with the country’s largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) to set up 10,000 grocery stores in the next 4 years. The ministry’s vice deputy Gede Edy Prasetya estimates that it will cost around 40 million rupiah to establish a new grocery store under the new partnership. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak this year, the government is seeking new potential eligible beneficiaries for its micro credit schemes. This year, it aims to disburse 190 trillion rupiah ($13.6 billion) as part of the scheme. It has already disbursed 34.2 trillion rupiah in loans as at the end of April, with a non-performing loan rate of 1.23%.

#Indonesia’s BNI Syariah to expand international banking services

Indonesia’s state-owned BNI Syariah plans to add overseas representative offices to run trade finance, and financial institutions and remittance services. The Islamic bank will leverage the branch offices of its parent company, Bank Negara Indonesia, in Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, London and New York. The bank can now expand its international banking services after it received a non-cash capital injection of 255 billion rupiah ($17.5 million) in March. This moved it up to Tier 3, for banks holding core capital of 5 trillion rupiah (around $342.5 million) to 30 trillion rupiah. The lender is also eyeing markets outside its current geographies, such as Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan. Alongside expanding its international presence, the bank is mitigating downside risks by optimizing its digital banking channels.

#Thailand’s Islamic bank doubles branches; #Cambodia gets #takaful option

Islamic finance is making further foray in non-Muslim countries in Southeast Asia. The Islamic Bank of Thailand (branded as IBank) announced it will more than double its branches. Etiqa Insurance & Takaful, the insurance division of Malaysian banking group Maybank, has been granted an operation licence in Cambodia. IBank plans to add 60 more branches to its network to reach 100 outlets nationwide. The branch expansion aims not only at increasing the share of Muslim customers of Ibank and support Muslim career development by creating new banking jobs, but also at attracting foreign investors, particularly from the Middle East.

Hong Leong Islamic appoints Rusni Hassan as Shariah Committee chairman

Hong Leong Islamic Bank (HLISB) has appointed Professor Dr Rusni Hassan as the chairman of its Shariah Committee effective April 1, 2020. Rusni is a professor at the IIUM Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance and is an influential veteran in the Islamic finance and banking industry. Her works and contributions to Islamic finance have also been recognised internationally including being listed in the prestigious Top 10 Most Influential Women in Islamic Business and Finance 2019 and Top 50 Most Influential Women in Islamic Finance 2018 by Cambridge IFA.

#Bangladesh’s first digital crowd-funding platform Ekdesh launched

Bangladesh launched its first digital crowd-funding platform Ekdesh for raising funds and disbursing them as zakat or financial aid. Information and Communication Technology Division State Minister Zunaid Ahmed Palak inaugurated the platform via an online inauguration program. People of the country can donate to the prime minister’s relief fund, the Islamic Foundation, or other non-government organizations through this platform to help the poor people or small businesses. Several organizations like Brac, Bidyanondo Foundation, Center for Zakat Management, Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP), and Sajida Foundation have already joined the platform.

#Indonesia to Roll Out Relief Fund for Banks to Ease Impacts from Pandemic

The Indonesian government has issued a regulation for the relief fund to the banking sector to cope with the financial impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak. The regulation states that the government may channel fund to the so-called participating banks. The participating banks will in turn pass the fund on to the “executing banks”, smaller banks who meet certain requirements. President Joko Widodo has earlier urged banks to loosen their terms on debtors and restructure loans as many are unable to repay in time amid massive job losses or salary cuts due to the outbreak.

SAJIDA Foundation combats Covid-19 as beacon of hope

Microfinance institution SAJIDA Foundation has rapidly diverted its resources and operations to tackle the pandemic from multiple frontiers. On the health front, one of its secondary-care hospitals have been dedicated to the treatment and isolation of Covid-19 patients, while the other has continued general medical services focusing particularly on maternal and child care. At the same time, nearly 2,000 field forces have reached 0.4 million microfinance members with life-saving information regarding the prevention and treatment of Covid-19. Mass awareness raising efforts have included leaflet distribution as well as household visits, while maintaining social distancing measures. SAJIDA’s members have also benefitted from a credit shield facility which supports members through loan outstanding waivers and cash benefits during emergencies.

Loan moratorium: Borrowers need to inform banks on consent, says finance minister

Malaysian borrowers who wish to continue with the six-month moratorium need to inform their respective banks of their consent via the banks’ designated platforms. Although the moratorium is automatic starting April 1, the borrowers’ consent is still legally required. Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said starting from May 1, bank customers with hire-purchase loans and fixed rate Islamic financing will receive a notification on the steps they must take to complete the deferment process under the six-month moratorium on loan and financing payments. Customers will be notified via SMS, email or registered mail from their banking institutions.

Islamic finance gaining stronger foothold in #China

As this year’s GDP growth of China is forecast to reach a 44-year low of just 2.5%, there is enough ongoing in the background to prepare for a post-coronavirus rebound. One such sector bustling with activity is Islamic finance which has grown in importance since China embarked on the program of the New Silk Road, officially known as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Expanding across Central and Western Asia and eventually the Middle East, the BRI leads through many Islamic economies and jurisdictions, so it is obviously advantageous for Islamic finance and halal trade to join and contribute to the BRI. There is also development of the sector within China itself. Malaysia’s Affin Islamic Bank together with Hong Kong-based Bank of East Asia has been looking into the opportunity of launching Islamic banking services in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. China’s Ningxia and Xinjiang autonomous regions are home to a Muslim population of about 25mn.

RAM Ratings: #Takaful industry’s strong capitalisation sufficient to withstand headwinds

RAM Ratings Services has maintained its "stable" outlook on the Malaysian takaful industry for 2020 despite the economic slowdown. Its Financial Institution Ratings co-head Sophia Lee said the industry’s strong capitalisation is sufficient to withstand headwinds. In 2019, the family takaful’s new business contributions grew 25% to RM6.2 billion, an additional 13% from 2018, mainly driven by the MySalam initiative, the national health protection scheme. Excluding MySalam, growth was still commendable at an estimated 16%, anchored by credit-related takaful products and the employee benefits. Similarly, the general takaful industry expanded by a strong 20% in 2019, led primarily by the motor business.

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