Islamic Banking

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Islamic finance a main pillar for the Islamic digital economy

Muslim countries are increasingly working on establishing an ecosystem called "inclusive Islamic digital economy."
Such a concept aims at combining the core sectors of what today constitutes the digital economy under Shariah compliance, besides Islamic finance and investment products, also e-commerce, food, transportation and logistics, the sharing economy, as well as lifestyle, travel and entertainment. Forecasts say that the global Islamic digital economy will reach an estimated value of $277bn as of 2020. This data suggests that the Islamic digital economy is going to be a huge opportunity for businesses in the future and cannot be ignored by any market player. In Islamic finance, micro-financing, co-investment platforms and online investment advisory are currently the most prevalent services. However, there is still accumulated demand for online incubation funds and start-up financing, including Islamic crowd funding.

How Islamic finance can build resilience to climate change

Worsening climate change impacts are having a negative impact on agricultural food production, livestock value chains and livelihoods. To tackle Sustainable Development Goal number 13, financial inclusion can be used as a tool to provide much-needed access to financial services. This in turn can help vulnerable communities break a vicious cycle to better prepare and cope with climate change shocks such as droughts or floods. Islamic microfinance institutions can fill a vital gap not met by conventional microfinance institutions by targeting pastoralists. A social collateral approach is taken by Crescent Takaful Sacco. The microfinance institution lends money to groups instead of individuals. This group-based lending approach is similar to the concept of asabiyah, otherwise known as social solidarity.

Why we need to embrace Islamic finance

In the Philippines the Senate approved a bill authorizing the expansion of the Islamic banking system, which shall be under the supervision of the Bangko Sentral Pilipinas and regulated by the Monetary Board. This measure can support families affected by humanitarian crises so that they may access formal banking systems and become more financially secure. Last May was the second anniversary of the Marawi siege; violence and conflict displaced 98% of the total population of the city. Recovery has been slow and full of challenges, particularly for those who could not access financial services. Agencies involved in the rehabilitation of Marawi conflict-affected communities can maximize assistance by considering an alternative financial system such as Islamic finance.

Virtual banks can attract more millennials to Islamic banks

According to Professor Datuk Dr Azmi Omar, President of the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), it is necessary to address millennials, as they constitute a significant proportion of the Malaysian population. Therefore, Islamic banks must be smart enough, in either that they create another subsidiary, a virtual bank, or roll out more of their services in terms of virtual applications. He added that virtual Islamic banks will attract millennials, but not everyone will go for digital banking. It is an alternative. In March this year, BNM governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Yunus said the central bank had had some preliminary discussions with a few banks, with virtual banks overseas. In its report on Islamic Banking Moody's noted that Malaysia planned to issue new virtual banking licenses by end-2019. This could increase competition for deposits, especially among Islamic banks with weaker deposit franchises.

Gaps in Islamic finance a pressing issue, says ICIEC

The Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) is trying to fill a gap in the absence of third-party guarantees, which has affected liquidity and hindered growth of Sharia-compliant financing. ICIEC head Oussama Kaisi said the group was engaging with central banks of several countries to find ways to increase liquidity for Islamic financing and allow more third-party guarantees. He added that by accessing the sukuk market companies can increase their investor base through stronger ratings, raise loan tenors and decrease borrowing costs. The value of sukuk issuance in 2018 was $115 billion (Dh422.33bn) and the market looks set for a similar amount this year. According to Standard & Poor’s, the UAE may sell $8bn worth of sukuk this year, slightly lower than $9.1bn recorded at the end of 2018, with private-sector corporations dominating the issuances.

Islamic banking industry continues to offer financing to eligible Malaysians: Aibim

The Association of Islamic Banking and Financial Institutions Malaysia (Aibim) has ensured that its member banks will continue to provide access for Islamic finance banking products. Aibim’s president Datuk Adissadikin Ali assured that customers who are eligible will not be deprived from access to financing. He added that customers should also recognise the need to make sound decisions based on their own affordability and in line with their financial conditions. Last year, Islamic banks approved a total of RM37.7 billion, representing 36.7% from the total financing for the purchase of residential properties. They also approved RM12.4 billion of personal financing and supported RM1 billion funding for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

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.

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