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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.

HSBC #Malaysia launches ESG Islamic structured product

HSBC has launched its first environmental, social and governance (ESG) Islamic structured product in Malaysia. The product offered by HSBC Amanah provides customers the opportunity to invest in a product that matches their values when it comes to environmental and social causes. It pays fixed coupon of 3.90% per annum (three years tenor) and 4.50% per annum (four years tenor) in the first two years of the investment. Payout at the end of third and fourth year is subject to Hang Seng Corporate Sustainability Index performance. Hang Seng Corporate Sustainability Index tracks the performances of Hong Kong listed companies that excel in corporate sustainability. The CEO of HSBC Amanah Malaysia Arsalaan Ahmed said the introduction of the ESG Islamic Structured Product clearly demonstrates HSBC’s pioneering strength in Islamic finance, particularly with regard to product innovation.

WATCH: Islamic finance institutions serve a crucial role for BRI

The crucial role of Islamic finance in financing China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) pays homage to the Silk Road and symbiotic relationship between China and the Islamic world prior the 15th Century. Rightfully so, as BRI is the 21st Century’s New Silk Road. Introduced in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, BRI consists of overland roads and railway systems – The Belt – and maritime highways – The Road. It allows the seamless and efficient transportation of people, natural resources, products, and capital to flow to and from mainland China. The sheer magnitude of BRI finds itself in its financing. A crucial role exists for Islamic financial institutions due to the emerging market of the Middle East, Africa, and South-Asia (MEASA). Jiang Xiheng, Vice President at the China Center for International Knowledge on Development (CIKD), stated the importance of having the United Arab Emirates as a partner in BRI.

Maybank Islamic wants to link up Gulf Cooperation Council with Asean

Maybank Islamic wants to be the bridge for the Islamic banking sector between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the ASEAN region. CEO Datuk Mohamed Rafique Merican expressed confidence that the company would be able to play the role in facilitating the trade, as well as flow of funds for financial activities between the two regions. Last year, MIB announced that it might receive regulatory approvals to set up its Dubai branch in the first half of 2019. Maybank Islamic has strong footprints in Islamic finance, particularly in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Being the largest Islamic bank in Malaysia, Maybank Islamic has about RM225 billion worth of assets as at Dec 31, 2018 (FY18). Its total gross financing for FY18 advanced 8.1% year-on-year to RM176.8 billion and its Islamic financing contributed 58.7% to the group's total financing.

BML launches complete range of Shariah-compliant business financing products

Bank of Maldives (BML) Islamic launched a range of Shariah-compliant financing products. BML Islamic Retailers’ Financing allows businesses with average monthly sales of MVR 50,000 to finance up to three times the monthly sales volume, and a repayment period of 48-months for financing facilities and 12-months for Wakala based overdraft facilities. Additional security is not required for financing up to MVR 500,000. BML Islamic Business Development Financing offers flexible collateral requirements for working capital, refurbishment, property development or to buy new machinery. BML’s Deputy CEO Mohamed Shareef stated that the new products show the Bank’s commitment to the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises in the country.

Ethis Group Comments on Receipt of Islamic Equity #Crowdfunding License in #Malaysia

The Securities Commission Malaysia revealed updated regulations as well as the approval of 8 new "Regulated Market Operators" serving the investment crowdfunding market. Best known for its impact investing in Indonesia, Ethis Ventures launched last year its Global Sadaqah platform and expects to launch its new Ethis Equity platform in Malaysia in Q1 2020. Ethis Group Chief Investment Advisor Maritz Mansor said they are very excited to have this chance to open up a new asset class to all levels and types of investors. Umar Munshi, Managing Director of Ethis Ventures, said SMEs and startups in Malaysia had few avenues for raising funds. He added that the Shariah-compliant alternative was missing and Ethis Equity aims to fill the gap. In Ethis Equity the minimum investment will be low which means that ordinary people can invest alongside professional investors.

Najib's SRC trial: Interesting use of Islamic banking facilities, inter-posed charitable trusts to break-up cash flows into discrete unconnected packages -evidence can prove problematic for ANZ's Shayne Elliot

Two diagrams published by the Malay Mail illustrate the cash flows relied on by the prosecution to prove the charges against Najib Razak. The diagrams reveal the use of Islamic banking facilities and inter-posed charitable trusts to break-up what can appear to be simple linear flows into discrete seemingly independent packages. These arrangements create problems for many, but especially the ANZ Banking Group whose management oversaw these transactions. ANZ CEO Shayne Elliot continues to distance himself from the problem, claiming that he was not a member of the AMBank board of directors when these transactions were executed, but in fact he was.

At fintech meet, Guan Eng says only Pakatan provides the tolerance needed for innovation to thrive

Malaysia's Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the country finally gained the tolerance element needed for digital innovation when Pakatan Harapan (PH) became the federal government. In his speech at the Securities Commission Fintech Roundtable 2019 the minister also cited a 2018 World Bank report that described Malaysia as having produced some of Southeast Asia’s most successful digital startups. He added that the government had also committed RM50 million towards a co-investment fund for ECF and P2P investments. ECF and P2P are two relatively recent developments in Malaysia that have opened up additional avenues of funding for microbusinesses and startups that may not yet qualify for traditional loans from commercial banks.

Alliance Islamic Bank launches social #crowdfunding platform

Alliance Islamic Bank launched its first social crowdfunding platform to create greater socioeconomic impact for the financially disadvantaged. The new platform is named SocioBiz and targets individuals seeking to raise funds to start or expand a business or learn a new life skill to earn a living. Alliance Islamic Bank had signed a memorandum of collaboration with Islamic fintech venture builder, Ethis Ventures Malaysia, and beneficiary partners, Yayasan Kebajikan Negara, Yayasan Noor al-Syakur and Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia. SocioBiz targets to identify and promote at least two recipients each month on the platform. So far SocioBiz has rolled out six campaigns and raised over RM23,000 through its platform.

Malaysia leads global sukuk issuance

Malaysia continued to maintain the leadership as the largest issuer of sukuk globally with a total of US$13.9 billion in the first three months of 2019. This means a market share of 35.2% from the overall issuance of US$39.5 billion during the period. This also represented an increase of 54.4% compared with US$9 billion that Malaysia issued in the first quarter of 2018.

Islamic financing marketplace Alami bags funding led by Singapore-based tryb

Indonesian startup Alami has closed an undisclosed pre-seed round led by fintech investor tryb. The company’s peer-to-peer (P2P) platform recently obtained a P2P registration from the country’s Financial Services Authority and is set to soon expand its business into the Shariah-compliant P2P financing space. The fresh funds will be used for product development and market expansion. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, but the country's Shariah finance sector has historically lagged behind other markets with large Muslim populations. Alami CEO Dima Djani said tryb’s South-East Asian fintech expertise provides strong validation of its business model and key support for its growth plans.

Sharia-compliant #fintech startup nets funding in round led by Singapore’s Tryb

Indonesian sharia-compliant fintech startup Alami secured funding in a pre-seed round led by Singapore-based VC firm Tryb. Alami, which recently obtained a P2P registration from Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (OJK), operates a platform for Islamic financing. Tryb principal Herston Powers said the sharia fintech market was a huge and untapped market in Indonesia with significant growth prospects. Both companies look to propel the sharia finance sector in Indonesia, which currently has the largest Muslim population in the world with about 90% of its 260 million people being Muslims.

SC sees good year ahead for #sukuk

Malaysia could see more Islamic capital market funds raised this year as sukuk activity has picked up in the first quarter of 2019. According to Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) deputy CEO Datuk Zainal Izlan Zainal Abidin, sukuk issuances are picking up over last year’s level. The government recently announced the revival of the East Coast Rail Link and the Bandar Malaysia projects, brightening investor sentiment which has been dampened lately. According to SC data, Malaysia’s Islamic capital market was valued at RM1.88 trillion or 61% of the nation’s overall capital market as at end-2018, down from RM1.9 trillion the year prior. Malaysia is the world’s largest sukuk issuer, having accounted for 51.6% of global outstanding sukuk as at endJune 2018.

Islamic finance has prominent role in financial #inclusion, says SC chairman

According to Securities Commission Malaysia chairman Datuk Syed Zaid Albar, Islamic finance has a prominent role in helping to address unmet needs of the world's Muslim population. He delivered a keynote speech at the SC-World Bank- IOSCO Asia Pacific Hub Conference 2019 and he underlined that Shariah-based financial contracts could be utilised for financial inclusion. World Bank Group representative to Malaysia and country manager, Dr Firas Raad, said Islamic finance could play a role in addressing the high levels of poverty in Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries. Meanwhile, touching on the Malaysian bond, ringgit and equity markets, he said the country's economy has strong fundamentals that could cope with any economic shock that might come its way.

Bank Islam continues to focus on affordable housing segment

Bank Islam Malaysia expects its home financing business model will continue to help the bank to grow and boost its assets. Malaysia’s oldest Islamic lender has been growing organically over the years, despite the crowded market. Bank Islam CEO Mohd Muazzam Mohamed said the bank is already adopting the right model to support this affordable segment. He added that the Islamic bank will continue with its current business model which is in line with the governments’ directive. Bank Islam has already allocated RM300 million to be utilised until 2021 as part of its digitalisation directive. Mohd Muazzam said the bank aims to increase its financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by RM200 million in 2019. The bank also plans to increase its investment fund to RM800 million under its Al-Awfar product, which has been refreshed since its establishment in 2009.

PM: Islamic banking players must invest in technologies

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Islamic banking and finance players must be intensely invested in technologies. He said the application of smart technology has positively disrupted the industry, however, the potential disruptions to traditional Islamic finance should not be underestimated. The disruptions can swing both ways. Dr Mahathir delivered his speech at the 15th Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum 2019. He said that Malaysia had spearheaded a number of innovative developments in Islamic finance, such as the issuance of the first Sustainable and Responsible Investment Sukuk and Green Sukuk, as well as the launch of the Investment Account Platform. He believes that Islamic finance can be a catalyst for the growth of green developments globally.

#Sukuk remains a key vehicle for infrastructure financing in Asia

Sukuk remains an important segment in Islamic finance in Asia where they are preferentially used to fund large public or private infrastructure or combined public-private projects. Recent estimates by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have put the infrastructure financing needs of developing Asian economies at $22.6tn from now up to 2030, which equates to $1.7tn per year. Looking back, more than ten Asian countries issued a total of $73.1bn in infrastructure sukuk between 2002 and the end of 2015. Malaysia’s ongoing Economic Transformation Programme is expected to accelerate the issuance of Infrastructure sukuk. In addition, China’s Asia-wide Belt and Road Initiative has created a business case for Islamic funding. The Philippines and Indonesia are both seeking to use sukuk for badly needed infrastructure improvements. Kazakhstan and more Central Asian countries are expected to follow.

BIMB sets aside RM300m for digital roadmap

BIMB Holdings, the parent company of Bank Islam Malaysia, has allocated RM300 million for investment under its three-year (2018-2020) digital roadmap. Bank Islam CEO Mohd Muazzam Mohamed said digital investment was the group's future focus and it already had a few products in the pipeline. He added that the bank's digital journey includes improving customer service touch points and business efficiency through upgrading back-end processes. Mohamed also said the bank currently had 500,000 Internet banking users, which had been doubling annually, supported by the bank's mobile application. BIMB Holdings was incorporated in Malaysia on March 20, 1997 and was listed on the Bursa Malaysia Securities Main Market on Sept 16 in the same year.

#Indonesia’s Bank Mandiri is on track to list its Islamic finance unit in 2020

Indonesia’s Bank Mandiri plans to list its Islamic finance unit Mandiri Syariah in 2020. According to Mandiri’s president Kartika Wirjoatmodjo, the Islamic bank is seeing 16% to 17% growth in savings, triple the pace of conventional banks. Indonesian authorities are nudging commercial banks to widen the pool of Shariah-compliant products for the nation’s more than 260mn people and the government is aiding the efforts by selling sovereign sukuk. With assets of about 93tn rupiah ($6.4bn), Mandiri Syariah is Indonesia’s largest Islamic finance company. Wirjoatmodjo expects the pool to top 100tn rupiah by the end of this year. Total assets at Indonesian Shariah banks were 426tn rupiah at the end of May, compared with 7,673tn rupiah for conventional banks.

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