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Islamic Finance: A new role for Islamic banks?

Baiza Bain had the opportunity to attend the recent World Islamic Economic Forum.
“It was a surreal experience as I had the opportunity to interact with a number of international delegates on areas that are outside my realm of Islamic finance. The various conversations I had certainly allowed me to have a different perspective on my area of practice. It made me realise that there are many ways in which Islamic finance could evolve to keep up with the rapidly changing times.
So, in what way has Islamic finance tried to keep up with the times? I remember having a conversation with an old friend who highlighted a unique initiative that is currently being worked on. This initiative was actually announced under Budget 2015. Called the Investment Account Platform (IAP), its aim is to diversify the roles that are currently being played by the Islamic financial institutions by way of adding on the responsibility of being an investment intermediary.

IFSB to develop standards for Islamic capital markets, insurance

The Kuala Lumpur-based Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) plans to develop guiding principles for capital markets and insurance, seeking to encourage regulatory consistency across new and established markets, its secretary general said.
The new guidelines from the 188-member IFSB, one of the main standard-setting bodies for Islamic finance, will complement existing ones which cover commercial banking.
A wider set of standards could assist the International Monetary Fund which plans to include Islamic finance in its surveillance work, known as the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP).
"Before the FSAP there has to be a set of core principles and that really is the instrument that we feel is going to point the way and facilitate consistency across borders," IFSB secretary-general Jaseem Ahmed told Reuters.
The standards on capital markets and Islamic insurance (takaful) would complement regulatory guidance from the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS).

PIA closes over-subscribed structured syndicated Islamic facility

Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIA) recently announced the successful closure of its US$ 120,000,000 Secured Syndicated Islamic Facility.
Citibank and Mashreq Bank PSC acted as joint initial mandated lead arrangers, bookrunners and coordinators for the facility. The transaction received an overwhelming response from the market and was over-subscribed.
The syndicate comprised of a diverse set of banks spread across GCC and South Asia. The participating banks included Askari Bank Limited, National Bank of Pakistan, Noor Bank PJSC, United Bank Limited and Warba Bank KSCP as mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners, Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad as lead arranger and Bank Alfalah Limited as arranger. This transaction once again reiterates the multitude of synergies developing between the Middle East and Pakistan.
The facility carries a tenor of three years and will be utilized to support the Company’s ongoing strategic growth plans and general corporate purposes.

Bumpy road for S'pore Islamic finance

SINGAPORE's nascent Islamic finance industry is finding it tough going amid volatile financial markets and depressed oil revenues.
So far this year, there has been only one sukuk, or Islamic bond, deal in a fairly brisk fixed-income market which saw 136 bond deals worth S$17.7 billion sold in the first nine months of 2015 - Malaysia's mortgage lender Cagamas Bhd sold a S$163 million sukuk in September. The lack of a natural pool of Islamic funds in secular Singapore is a major barrier to sukuk launches, according to Clifford Lee, DBS Bank head of fixed income.
"And so you try to sell in other markets which need education (leading to) higher costs; if you're a strong issuer, the conventional bond market is more than ready to meet your needs," explained Mr Lee.
Islamic finance bans interest, products with excessive uncertainty, gambling, short sales and the financing of prohibited activities considered harmful to society. The strongest indicator that it's not smooth sailing for Islamic finance players here came in September when DBS Group Holdings said it will be winding down its Islamic banking unit, which it said has been unable to achieve the necessary economies of scale.

Emerging markets must enable Islamic finance: World Bank

Emerging markets must create the valid legal conditions and a “level playing field” to gain access to Islamic finance at the international level, Zamir Iqbal, the head of the World Bank Global Islamic Finance Development Center, has told Anadolu Agency.

“Islamic finance uses the techniques of securitization. This means that a good enabling environment for structured finance is needed”, Iqbal said, while speaking at a G-20 forum on Islamic finance in Istanbul.

Securitization, or structured finance, is the process of taking assets that produce income and using them to create security. In Islamic finance, all securities are linked to income-producing assets.

Malaysia's stimulus plans hampered as Islamic yield curve steepens

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s plan to revive Malaysia’s faltering economy is getting no help from the country’s Islamic bond market.
Yields on government 10-year sukuk, used by companies to gauge the cost of Shariah-compliant financing, are at their highest level in 18 months relative to two-year securities, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. And with the slide in Brent crude prices sapping Malaysia’s oil-export revenue against a backdrop of looming U.S. interest-rate increases, investors say longer-term borrowing won’t be getting cheaper anytime soon.
“With the U.S. expected to raise interest rates soon, Malaysia’s yield curve will remain steep next year,” said Elsie Tham, a senior fund manager at Kuala Lumpur-based Manulife Asset Management Services Bhd who oversees more than US$1 billion. “Companies will find it challenging to raise funds because of slower economic growth.”

Funding shortfall of $13bn seen for Mena SME Islamic financing

More than one-third of small and medium enterprises in the Middle East and North Africa are out of the purview of banking sector and there exists a funding gap of up to $13bn for SME Islamic financing in the region.
Moreover sukuk, or Islamic bonds, have gained real momentum with many non-Muslim countries raising funds through these instruments, said Malaysian Premier Dato Sri Mohamad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak at the 11th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), which got underway here yesterday and attended by more than 3,000 delegates from 98 countries.
“35% of SMEs in the Mena are excluded from the formal banking sector. Indeed, there is a financing gap of up to $13bn for SME Islamic financing in this region,” Razak said, quoting a study by International Finance Corp (IFC).


Islamic finance to fuel China’s Belt and Road initiative: Prince Turki

Finance from Islamic nations wants to play an important role in China's Belt and Road initiative, Turki bin Faisal Al Saud said at the International Finance Forum in Beijing on November 7.
Also known as Turki Al Faisal, Prince Turki is a member of the Saudi Arabia royal family, one of the founders of the King Faisal Foundation and chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.
"I'm glad to see that the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) is considering taping Islamic funds," he said. "Islamic finance is very suitable for infrastructure financing, and we want to contribute to the One Belt One Road."
The initiative is composed of infrastructure development across Asia and Europe. It's estimated that China will invest a total of $900 billion and spur a regional input of $300 billion.
Chinese banks having been raising clout in the Gulf such as issuing bonds. The country is also strengthening its trade relations with Islamic countries.
However, the plan comes with risks, as Chinese companies have to first become familiar with Islamic finance, which has complex rules.

Badlisyah: Islamic finance to continue strong growth

Malaysia’s Islamic finance industry will continue to grow strongly despite the withdrawal of some Islamic finance-related incentives in Budget 2016.
Chartered Institute of Islamic Finance Professionals (CIIF) president Badlisyah Abdul Ghani said the country’s Islamic financing market has grown positively over the years, attributed to the tax incentives provided for Islamic financing in previous budgets.
“(But now) the Islamic finance no longer requires that assistance to penetrate the market. (Previously) the incentives were there to create the momentum to build nderstanding and acceptance of Islamic finance,” he told a press conference after the launch of CIIF last Friday.
Badlisyah said the CIIF, a professional body for qualified practitioners in the Islamic finance industry, was established following the increasing need for a global reference point for professional talent in the industry, as it expands internationally.

Islamic finance assets to reach US$3.2t by 2020, says Thomson Reuters

The global Islamic finance assets are projected to grow to US$3.2 trillion (RM13.6 trillion) by 2020, says Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.
Its Head of Islamic Finance, Mustafa Adil said Islamic finance was considered the most developed sector within the various pillars of the Islamic economy and its growth in the global industry was broadly measured by the value of Islamic finance assets.
As global acceptance of Islamic finance continues to grow, he said more corporates and non-Muslim sovereigns were announcing Islamic finance initiatives such as ethical finance or Shariah-compliant regulations, as well as sukuk issuances.

Islamic finance gains traction in search for alternative models

Islamic financing is gaining traction even among non-Muslim countries in a bid to use sustainable and equitable form of alternative models, the Malaysian Prime Minister said on Tuesday. London issued its second Islamic sukuk after its first bond issue was oversubscribed 14 times. In addition to London, Luxembourg and South Africa, Hong Kong has also issued sovereign sukuks.
“Ever since the global financial crisis in 2007-08 there has been a sharp demand for alternative economic and business model that reduces the level of speculation as conventional model that has inherent weakness,” Najib Razak told journalists. “Over-leveraging is believed to have been the root cause of the disaster — but again, that is prohibited in Islamic finance. As a result, Islamic banks remained strongly capitalised and resilient against financial market volatility, while continuing to contribute positively to equitable and sustainable growth,” he said.

Demand for Islamic finance grew after 2008 economic crisis

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak credited the 2008 global economic crisis, reportedly the worst since the Great Depression, for paving the way towards the growth of Islamic finance. He said the 2008 financial crisis, which was triggered by the bursting of a housing bubble in the United States and later contributed to the European sovereign-debt crisis, made alternative financial systems more sought after.
“Ever since the global economic crisis in 2007, 2008, I think there’s been a sharp demand for alternative economic and business models, specifically financial models that reduces the level of speculation. “Conventional model has that inherent weakness and more to kind of a genuine partnership, you share the risk and you share the profit. So Islamic finance has gained a lot of traction,” he said during a press conference at the 11th World Islamic Economic Forum in Kuala Lumpur here.

Islamic Finance: Ushering in a New Era of Growth for Africa

Markets across Africa now offer a world of exciting growth opportunities, with experts projecting that 7 out of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world will be in Africa. Djibouti is rapidly becoming an important hub for Islamic finance in Africa, with strong support coming from the President.
The Central Bank of Djibouti is leading the way in terms of driving the practical legal and regulatory framework. Djibouti's strong commitment to Islamic finance is further cemented by its drive to connect with memberships in important international industry organizations, such as the Islamic Financial Services Board and the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions.

Special Report: The shariah debate on Islamic financing

Zaki (fictual name) is a former civil servant who was declared bankrupt by the civil courts when he did not repay hundreds of thousands of ringgit to a bank. It all started when he was offered a bai’ bithaman ajil (BBA) scheme by a local bank to buy a new home costing RM90,485 and was expected to repay the bank over 25 years. When the unlicensed developer abandoned the project, Zaki stopped paying his monthly bank instalments. As a result, the bank recalled the facility and filed a civil suit against Zaki. The claim amount was lose to three times the buying price of the home, even though the bank had only disbursed RM36,000 to the errant developer.
His predicament is neither new nor uncommon. Many like Zaki signed up for the BBA — a home financing scheme that had been in existence for more than three decades until it was phased out in 2013 — and only learnt of the perils when they defaulted.

Gassner's picture

The lack of equity finance - really a problem of moral hazard?

Michael Gassner, Editor of presented on the 3ème Congrès International de la Finance Islamique “Les Banques Islamiques et le Financement des Entreprises: Pratiques et enjeux théoriques” en Marrakech, 25/26 Mai 2015.

The presentation discussed that exponential growth of debt in Islamic finance is ruled out, nevertheless, debt and equity finance exists. The specific significance of equity finance (musharaka, mudaraba) lies in need for solid debt/equity ratio, as Muslims shall never die being in debt. Still Islamic banks barely provide any equity finance and the reason often given are moral hazard costs. This is denied as debt as well as equity has specific moral hazard problems, and if anything, even conventional banks would offer a mixture of debt and equity. Rather the assumed reason appears to be in the regulation (capital weight) and taxation (interest deductibility), which makes equity financing from a bank 2-4 times at least more expensive than debt finance, and thus not worth being offered.

The attached presentation is in French.

“Fundamental reform of the monetary system must be considered.” Says head of Iceland Parliament's Committee for Economic Affairs


Monetary Reform - A better monetary system for Iceland

Frosti Sigurjonsson, Member of the Parliament of Iceland and Chairman of the Committee for Economic Affairs and Trade, today published a report outlining the need for a fundamental reform of Iceland's monetary system.

The report, commissioned by the Prime Minister, considers the extent to which Iceland's history of economic instability has been driven by the ability of banks to ‘create money' in the process of lending.

The Icelandic economy has struggled with inflation and unstable exchange rates. Iceland also suffered one of the costliest banking crises in history.The report describes how commercial banks in Iceland created far more money than was needed for economic growth. The Central Bank failed to bring the money supply under control using conventional means.

Working Paper: Why does financial sector growth crowd out real economic growth?

As Islamic finance emphasizes the connection between real economy and financial activity this BIS Working Paper is very interesting and supportive for the understanding:

"In this paper we examine the negative relationship between the rate of growth of the financial sector and the rate of growth of total factor productivity. We begin by showing that by disproportionately benefiting high collateral/low productivity projects, an exogenous increase in finance reduces total factor productivity growth. Then, in a model with skilled workers and endogenous financial sector growth, we establish the possibility of multiple equilibria. In the equilibrium where skilled labour works in finance, the financial sector grows more quickly at the expense of the real economy. We go on to show that consistent with this theory, financial growth disproportionately harms financially dependent and R&D-intensive industries."

space: Isra Islamic finance magazine, 2nd issue

Islamic finance magazine by the Malaysian ISRA consultancy for free download avalaible.

InFocus Inaugural newsletter of the General Council for Islamic banks and financial institutions

Inaugural issue reporting about the work and new strategic plan of CIBAFI, the General Council for Islamic banks and financial institutions.

JKAU - Islamic Economics Journal uploaded

Islamic Economic Journal of King Abdulaziz Journal online:

JKAU: Islamic Econ., Vol. 28 No. 1, 230 Pages (2015 A.D./1436 A.H.)
DOI: 10.4197/Islec. 28-1


- Islam?c Wealth Management in History and at Present
Murat Çizakça ............................................................................................. 3
- Loan Loss Provisioning in OIC Countries: Evidence from Conventional vs. Islamic Banks
Ali Ashraf, M. Kabir Hassan, and Syed Abul Basher .......................... ..... 23
Discussion Paper
Factors Influencing the Behavioral Intentions of Muslim Employees to Contribute to
Cash-Waqf Through Salary Deductions
Anwar Allah Pitchay, Ahamed Kameel Mydin Meera and
Muhammad Yusuf Saleem …………………… ……….................. 63
Discussion Forum
- Severe Financial Crises and Fundamental Reforms: The Benefits of Risk-Sharing
Hossein Askari ....................................................................................... 101
- Why Economists (and Economies) Should Love Islamic Finance

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