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Deloitte Islamic Finance insights series

This series of Islamic finance insights discusses social infrastructure trends and the value proposition of an alternative Sharia’- compliant funding model, which resembles sustainable finance, shares guidelines of responsible investment and sound governance practices. The study emphasizes and reflects on the collective views of an industry forum organized by Deloitte Middle East and supported by Deloitte UK, held last November in London. The paper defines the key enablers and influencers of building an effective Islamic finance. It also analyses the impact of this model in light of regulatory, market practice and governance requirements.

Opinion: Why there's no better time for GCC's #fintech revolution

As financial technologies continue to develop, one region in particular stands to benefit: the Gulf. This isn’t a revolution that is far off, it is happening today. For the countries of the GCC, fintech couldn’t arrive at a better time. The countries of the Gulf are all working to diversify their economies away from a dependence on fossil fuels. Bahrain has already launched its FinTech Bay, which has the mission of accelerating local early-stage fintech companies, as well as foreign companies to establish regional offices in Bahrain. In September this year DIFC’s FinTech Hive will launch the second edition of its accelerator programme for fintech innovators. The 2018 edition has also been expanded to include "insurtech", as well as Islamic finance and regulatory technology ("regtech") solutions.

Better late than never? #Brunei and its role in the #Fintech revolution

Singapore battles with Australia and Hong Kong to be the region’s leading Fintech hub. She has moved ahead of her Southeast Asian neighbours, including newcomers like Brunei. Brunei launched its Fintech office in 2017 and at the same time put in place regulatory guidelines. However, Brunei’s Fintech ecosystem remains underdeveloped. Brunei has good reasons to pursue Fintech, it must start to reduce its economic dependence on gas and oil. The country has already made progress including collaboration with South Korea. Both countries provided US$30 million. They planned to set up a Fintech innovation centre. In return, South Korean companies gained access to the Islamic market. Brunei also signed a Fintech agreement with Singapore, Hong Kong and Great Britain.

#Australia should consider Islamic finance to bridge infrastructure gap

According to Crescent Wealth managing director Talal Yassine, Australia should consider Islamic finance to bridge its infrastructure gap. In his opinion, if super funds continue to spurn local infrastructure investment in favour of offshore assets, Islamic finance could provide a solution. Australians who think it may be hard to source Islamic debt need only look at the UK, which in 2014 became the first Western country to issue sukuk. Yassine believes that the Australian Government is equally well placed to issue sukuks. Local financial institutions, such as National Australia Bank and Crescent Wealth have expertise in building compliant Islamic debt structures and could be used in these funding initiatives.

INTERVIEW-How can new crowdfunder GlobalSadaqah improve transparency, impact of Islamic social finance?

In this interview Umar Munshi, the founder and CEO of Ethis Ventures talks about the Islamic crowdfunding sector. Ethis Ventures is a pioneer in the sector centred in Southeast Asia, in Singapore, as well as in Malaysia and Indonesia. Ethis Ventures is behind Ethis Crowd, the first Islamic real estate crowdfunding platform that raises funds for social housing development projects in Indonesia. Ethis is also behind Kapital Boost, which crowdfunds financing for small and medium-sized enterprises. The company’s latest project is a charity-based crowdfunding platform called GlobalSadaqah. It aims to match high-impact charity campaigns to donors who give either zakat or sadaqah.

Regulations are hindering growth of Islamic finance

The steady growth in Islamic banking in Kenya was unexpected when Islamic finance started in Kenya in the last decade. The Finance Act of 2017 made amendments to the Co-operative Societies Act to facilitate shariah compliant products and enhance financial deepening. It also amended the Public Finance Management Act to recognise Sukuk as one of the national government securities. Despite this growth, there is still much to be done in developing regulations. Kenyan Islamic banks have tried to embed shariah governance within their governance frameworks. However, the mechanism lacks to ensure parity in shariah interpretations, product development and advisory and regulations at an industry level. Islamic capital markets remain hugely untapped in Kenya.

The evolving landscape of Islamic finance: regulatory developments

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has taken a number of measures for the effective regulation of Islamic finance in the country. The SECP has constituted a Shariah Advisory Board, consisting of renowned scholars and has established a dedicated Islamic Finance Department (IFD) to embed Islamic finance in the corporate sector and capital markets. New regulations have been issued under the provisions of the Companies Act. The SECP issued Draft Shariah Governance Regulations, 2018, a comprehensive set of regulations for governance of Shariah-compliant companies, Shariah-compliant securities and Islamic financial institutions. In order to encourage Sukuk issuances, the Sukuk Regulations, 2017, have been notified, and tax neutrality has been provided through an amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance. In February 2018, the SECP adopted three AAOIFI Shariah standards while in April 2018, the SECP issued draft notification for adoption of seven more AAOIFI Shariah Standards.

#Kuwait Bank Adopts Ripple for Instant Cross-Border Payments

The Kuwait Finance House (KFH) has joined RippleNet, an enterprise blockchain network for international remittance payments. RippleNet is a SWIFT-replacement global blockchain network that sees over 100 financial institutions including banks, payment providers and remittance operators. KFH underlined its intention to use Ripple’s unique tool for cross-border payments for its retail customers. With this, KFH can provide instant and secure cross-border money transfers within seconds, with end-to-end visibility over the journey of the payment. Elsewhere in the region, UAE-based RAK Bank became a RippleNet member in September. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), the defacto central bank of Saudi Arabia, has also partnered with Ripple. The SAMA also became the first central bank in the world to join RippleNet.

Dana Gas receives $40mn from #Egyptian government

UAE based natural gas producer Dana Gas has now received almost $90mn so far this year from the North African nation.

Call for promoting role of Islamic Waqf

Qatar's Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs organized a forum on waqf where participants called for the advancement of the waqf to regain its role in the Islamic economy. Qatar has made great steps in the advancement of the waqf, starting with the enactment of the laws regulating it, and taking all measures to ensure the governance and transparency of waqf operations. The four-day forum discussed current vital issues including the responsibility of scholars, the renewal of Islamic jurisprudence, the reform of religious education, and the Islamic waqf and its role in development.

#UK Mosque Opens #Crypto #Donations in National First 'Bitcoin Ramadan'

A UK mosque has broken with opinion and opted to accept cryptocurrency donations for this year’s Ramadan period. The Shacklewell Lane Mosque in East London partnered with local Blockchain startup Combo Innovation to set up a Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet for the Ramadan practice of Zakat. The UK’s only Turkish-owned mosque is going against the rulings of various Islamic scholars and the Turkish government, who previously determined cryptocurrency to be "incompatible" with Islam. The mosque hopes to raise around £10,000 ($13,300) for repairs to the building. So far, its Bitcoin address has received funds worth around $2000.

Responding to demand, Islamic #microfinance start-up starts accepting cryptocurrencies for zakat

Islamic microfinance start-up Blossom Finance has started accepting zakat payments in cryptocurrencies for zakat-eligible cryptocurrency assets in response to user demand. Blossom Finance has designated a wallet for zakat payments at a cryptocurrency exchange in Indonesia. Blossom will channel the zakat to the Indonesian financial cooperative Baitul Maal Wat Tamwil (BMT) that will distribute the funds to any of the 87 microfinance institutions that the start-up has agreed to partner with. The crypto zakat payment on crypto assets is completed once deposited in the Blossom-designated wallet. CEO Matthew Joseph Martin said Blossom Finance would not take a fee for providing the zakat payment facility. The company’s aim is to provide a working model for zakat collection and management organizations.

Save the Date – Financial Inclusion Week 2018

The fourth annual Financial Inclusion Week will take place between October 29 and November 2, 2018. This year’s theme is Getting Inclusion Right. In 2018, the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion is celebrating its 10th anniversary and using this moment as an opportunity to celebrate progress and look to the future. The 2017 Global Findex revealed that an additional 515 million people have opened a bank account since 2014, however key metrics for usage and savings have declined. Recently the Gallup Global Financial Health Study has revealed that at the country level greater account ownership does not correlate with greater financial security and control. During Financial Inclusion Week 2018, partner organizations around the globe will hold conversations focused on what the industry must do to ensure that access to financial services brings real value to customers' lives.

First Islamic #crowdfunding platform for affordable homes to increase impact with backing of Expo 2020 Dubai

The world’s first Islamic real estate crowdfunding platform Ethis Crowd will showcase the solution at Expo 2020 Dubai. Ethis Crowd enables individuals to collectively fund and invest in new residential developments for low-income households in Indonesia and Malaysia. Created in 2014 and headquartered in Singapore, Ethis Crowd enables public investors to collectively gather funds to develop affordable housing projects. Typically completed in one to two years, the homes are then sold to ethical partner banks, who resell them to end-users. More than 20,000 investors and donors from 52 countries are registered on the platform. About 60% of the investment comes from Singapore, while an increasing number of investors originate from the Middle East.

QIB and INJAZ Qatar sign deal to launch financial literacy programme

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has signed an agreement with the youth organization INJAZ Qatar to sponsor a three-year financial literacy programme for selected high schools and universities in Qatar. The agreement was signed by Bassel Gamal, QIB Group CEO and Emad Al Khaja, INJAZ Qatar CEO. The new "Personal Finance Program" is a five-week training with interactive sessions tailored specifically for high school students and university freshmen. The programme explores ways to earn money and spend it wisely by budgeting, saving, and investing. Courses include the cautious use of credit cards, and protecting your personal finances. Emad Al Khaja said the course was in line with local cultural requirements, as Islamic banking principles are incorporated into the programme.

Dana Gas reports 27% increase in net profit in Q1 2018

Dana Gas reported a net profit of $14 million for the first quarter of 2018 compared to $11 million reported during the same period last year. The company attributed the increase in net profit to better realised prices and the positive arbitration settlement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). First quarter gross revenue reached $120 million compared to $118 million in the first quarter of 2017. During the first quarter of this year, group average production was 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), down 7% from 69,900 boepd in the first quarter of 2017. Dr. Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas, said the first quarter 2018 saw Dana Gas continue to perform solidly from both a financial and operational perspective. The company recorded a 27% increase in net profit and higher revenues reflecting higher realised prices.

Gulf Capital Acquires Strategic Stake in #Saudi Arabia #Fintech Geidea

Asset management firm Gulf Capital has acquired a strategic stake in Saudi Arabian fintech company, Geidea. According to Gulf Capital, this deal with Geidea is the largest acquisition in the Saudi Fintech sector. Geidea was founded in 2008 and is the official distributor of Verifone and a payment solution company. Gulf Capital also reported that this deal is its fifth investment in the technology sector and is part of its efforts to develop the payment and digital financial transaction sector in the GCC. Dr. Karim El Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital, stated that this partnership was paving the way to adopt Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and move towards a cashless society.

#Kazakhstan's financial hub adds Islamic arbitration capabilities

Kazakhstan's financial hub, the International Arbitration Centre (IAC) is adding specialists in Islamic law to its dispute resolution services. The IAC provides mediation and arbitration services as an alternative to traditional court litigation. The IAC is an independent body launched to complement the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), an economic zone aimed at developing the republic's financial sector. IAC Chairman Barbara Dohmann said that Islamic finance is now part of everyday business dealings across the region, so the ability to handle civil and commercial disputes in Islamic finance has become very important.

Sharjah turns to the debt market to raise investment capital

The government of Sharjah is tapping the debt markets to help fund large-scale infrastructure and economic development programmes. On March 8 the emirate closed the book on a dollar-denominated sukuk, valued at $1bn. The 10-year bond was listed on the NASDAQ Dubai with an initial price of 150 basis points over the 10-year mid-swap rate, which then tightened to 135 basis points. Demand was high and the bond was oversubscribed, at around $2.4bn. Book runners were local, regional and global lenders, including the Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB), Dubai Islamic Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered. In early February the emirate also became the first Gulf sovereign issuer to tap the Chinese interbank bond market, issuing a RMB2bn ($318.4m) Panda bond. The increased investment is expected to boost GDP growth, with ratings agency S&P anticipating growth of 2.5% per year by 2020.

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