Islamic Banking

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What is a sharia-compliant investment and how should I save for a rainy day?

A shariah-compliant unit trust fund is a collective investment scheme that requires all investments in the fund to adhere to Islamic law or shariah requirements. These requirements are underpinned by Islam’s prohibition on charging interest and the avoidance of companies with more than 30% debt or investments that engage in activities that are deemed to cause social harm, for example gambling, alcohol and weapons manufacturing. Sharia-compliant equity unit trusts typically invest in equities that comply with the above requirements. In addition, sharia-compliant balanced funds provide a shariah-compliant retirement or pension fund investment that invests in shariah-compliant equities as well as sukuks. Most shariah-compliant equity and balanced funds invest in both local and global equities.

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.

Islamic Banking already in #Uganda, says Kasaija

According to the Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija, no amount of opposition will stop the operationalisation of Islamic Banking in Uganda because it has already kicked off. He is the one who signed the instruments operationalising it and he said Ugandans should stop associating it with terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. During their annual general meeting last Saturday the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) resolved to lobby against the implementation of Islamic Banking. The Christian bishops speculated that Muslims could be using Islamic Banking as a bait to lure Christians into Islam. This drew a backlash from Muslim leaders, who warned the bishops to refrain from mobilising against Islamic Banking and advised them to seek knowledge from Ministry of Finance or Bank of Uganda rather than undermining it through the media.

IFSB database disseminates data for Islamic Banking Systems in 22 countries

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has published country-level data on financial soundness and growth of the Islamic banking systems for Q3 and Q4 of 2018 from 22 IFSB member jurisdictions. A special feature of this publication is the inclusion of full-fledged Islamic banking data of Kazakhstan for the first time as Kazakhstan joined the database project in January 2019. The total assets of the Islamic banking industry stand to USD 1,754 billion in 2018Q4 from USD 1,684 billion in 2017Q4. Financing by Islamic banks from the participating jurisdictions reached USD 1,052 billion in 2018Q4 from USD 1,024 billion in 2017Q4. The IFSB Task Force has been greatly facilitating the collection of Islamic banking data. The database is available at the IFSB website https://psifi.ifsb.org.

IFSB issues working paper on risk-sharing in Islamic Banking

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) issued its 10th research (WP-10) in the IFSB Working Paper series which explores the risk-sharing practices in the Islamic banking sector. It describes the views of both Islamic banks and regulatory and supervisory authorities (RSAs) on the practices of Islamic banks in IFSB member jurisdictions. This is in relation to the governance rights of unrestricted profit-sharing investment account (UPSIA) holders. The findings in WP-10 reveal that the capital treatment of the UPSIA in general varies across different jurisdictions and Islamic banking type. In most of the jurisdictions UPSIAs are considered to be 'investments' exposed to losses rather than 'deposits' with capital certainty.

Medina Islamic Finance Boost Financial #Inclusion in Africa

Medina Islamic Finance, an Africa-focused digital Islamic microfinance platform has announced a strategic partnership with United Labs, a New York-based data science venture studio. The announcement was made by the founder and CEO of Medina Islamic Finance, M. Wagane Diouf, at the 44th Annual Meeting of the Islamic Development Bank Group. United Labs will initially provide Medina Islamic Finance with access to Artificial Intelligence technology and automated local language customer support systems that will accelerate Medina’s underwriting while improving customer support. United Labs CEO Bachir Diagne said he was proud to support Medina's inclusive ecosystem with data science technology solutions and to boost financial inclusion in Africa. Medina Islamic Finance plans to roll out its suite of ethical banking solutions in key targeted African countries in partnership with established financial institutions later this year.

Islamic Finance Centre opens in #Kazakhstan

Qatar's Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, and Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) have opened an Islamic Finance Centre (IFC) in Kazakhstan. The opening ceremony was attended by HBKU president Dr Ahmad M Hasnah, along with the rector of Al-Farabi University, Dr Galym Mutanov, and AIFC board vice chairman Yernur Rysmagambetov. The IFC is equipped with the most advanced technological tools offering training programmes with the aim of becoming a research hub and educational cluster in Islamic finance. HBKU's College of Islamic Studies (CIS) will support this centre and the two institutions will be working on student exchange programmes, joint conferences, and mutual research projects.

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.

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.

Moody’s expects strong growth in the Islamic finance sector in 2019

Moody’s Investor Services expects strong growth in the Islamic finance sector, reflecting the increasing demand for Shari’ah-compliant financial instruments. The rating agency stated that familiarity as well as understanding of the instrument is increasing and there are no barriers to investors, both Islamic and conventional to investing in these issuances. The growth in the Islamic finance sector is expected to translate into stronger prospects for green Sukuk issuance by sovereigns and financial institutions. The green Sukuk market will benefit from the buoyant demand as institutional investors seek to integrate sustainability into their asset allocation and risk management practises.

The #UK can be a world leader in Islamic finance

According to Al Rayan Bank CFO Amir Firdaus, Islamic finance is reinforcing the UK’s position as a global financial hub. London is the leading centre for Islamic finance outside the Muslim world, with assets of UK-based institutions that offer Islamic finance services totalling more than $5bn. More than 20 banks in the UK offer Islamic services, and five of these banks are fully Sharia-compliant, including Al Rayan Bank. Al Rayan currently provides Islamic financial products to more than 85,000 customers in the UK. Last year, Al Rayan became the first bank in the world to issue a public sterling sukuk in a non-Muslim country. The London-listed £250m securitisation was rated AAA by Standard & Poor’s and Aaa by Moody’s Investors Service and was significantly oversubscribed. The appeal of Islamic finance is growing steadily, more than a third of Al Rayan Bank’s customers are currently believed to be non-Muslim.

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.

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 Alfalah & Ghandhara Industries signed a MoU for Promoting Isuzu D Max Variants

Pakistan’s Bank Alfalah Islamic has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ghandhara Industries Limited (GIL). Under this MoU, Bank Alfalah Islamic and Ghandhara Industries Limited have agreed on a joint campaign to promote “Isuzu D-Max Pickup variants” through Bank Alfalah Islamic’s Auto Finance product. The signing ceremony took place at Bank Alfalah Head Office, Islamic Banking Division in Karachi. The memorandum has been signed by Dr. Muhammad Imran, Group Head Bank Alfalah Islamic Banking Division and Mr. Muhammad Kuli Khan Khattak, DCEO Ghandhara Industries Limited.

IRTI and Dar Al Sharia Sign MOU to Develop Solutions for Islamic Financial Institutions

The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) and Dar Al Sharia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for strategic collaboration. The MOU was signed by IRTI Director General, Dr. Humayon Dar, and CEO of Dar Al Sharia, Mian Muhammad Nazir. IRTI and Dar Al Sharia will jointly provide Islamic finance advisory services to Islamic financial institutions, multilateral financial institutions, sovereigns and quasi-sovereigns, corporate entities, development funds, regulators, Fintech companies, educational institutions and other clients offering Sharia-compliant products and services. Nazir said the strategic collaboration with IRTI was a landmark initiative towards the development of a sustainable platform for innovation in the Islamic finance industry.

The IFSB Database Completes Five Years Data for Islamic Banking Systems in 21 Countries, including the United Kingdom for the First Time

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) published country-level data on financial soundness and growth of the Islamic banking systems for Q1 of 2018 from 21 IFSB member jurisdictions. This report includes the data from four newly joined countries, namely: Qatar, Palestine, Lebanon, and the first time for the United Kingdom. With the inclusion of new countries’ data, the total assets of the Islamic banking industry grew by 8.0% from USD 1,573 billion in 2017Q1 to USD 1,699 billion in 2018Q1. Financing by Islamic banks grew by 6.7% and reached USD 1,033 billion in 2018Q1 from USD 968 billion in 2017Q1. The number of full-fledged Islamic banks and Islamic windows of conventional banks in 21 IFSB member participating countries stood at 188 and 85 in 2018Q1 as compared to 184 and 84 in 2017Q1 respectively.

Wahed Invest launches #UK’s first easy access digital Halal investment platform

Wahed Invest has launched the UK’s first Halal online investment platform that is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. This way savers from all income brackets can easily invest in a globally diversified portfolio of ethically responsible stocks, Islamic bonds and gold. The platform, which is already available in the USA across all 50 states, allows users to open an account in minutes with a minimum investment of £100. For the first time, mainstream investors can gain access to products not traditionally available to retail investors, such as Sukuk. In order to ensure all returns are Halal, Wahed has a full-time Ethical Review Board. The Ethical Board is chaired by Sheikh Taha Abdul Basser alongside Sheikh Humza Maqbool Chaudhry and Sheikh Musa Furber.

Islamic finance in the shipping industry

As the shipping industry continues to struggle with access to finance, Islamic finance may be a viable option for ship owners. The global growth of sukuks has been steadily increasing, but Islamic finance has its own uncertainties. The lack of standardisation in documentation contributes to this uncertainty. The UAE had established the Higher Shari’ah Authority back in 2016, whose mission is to issue fatwas and ensure the legitimacy of Islamic products and services. Any documentation developed under the auspices of the Authority still needs to be negotiated by the parties and adapted according to the structure and type of the sukuk. It is hoped that the shipping industry will be able to benefit from the continuous growth of Islamic finance.

Creating footsteps in Kuwait’s Islamic banking sector

Kuwait Finance House (KFH) has embarked on a digital transformation journey. Kuwait and Bahrain have each launched their respective digital banking platforms and soon, Malaysia will have its own. By the end of 2018, a seamless digital customer experience is expected to be publicly available. In Malaysia the KFH is active in the infrastructure financing front, supporting the third light rail transport system (LRT 3) and the second Mass Rapid Transit (MRT 2) projects through the provision of Islamic financing facilities. The project is expected to benefit the local communities through the promotion of real estate developments around the proposed train stations. Furthermore, the project is expected to generate more than 2,000 jobs during the construction phase.

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