Iran is developing a range of new financial products, from Islamic bonds to warrants and insurance-linked securities, in an effort to give local firms more funding options as sanctions put pressure on the economy.
The Iranian rial has plunged 70 percent against the U.S. dollar in the free market this year, inflation has risen and foreign trade has been disrupted after Washington repudiated an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program and reimposed sanctions.
More and more banks in the Islamic world — a community of nearly 2 billion people worldwide — are adopting blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. As early as 2016, major Islamic banks such as ICICI Bank and Emirates NBD began researching blockchain's capabilities to reduce transactional costs, according to Coindesk. In 2017, the UAE’s Emirates Islamic became the first Islamic bank to use blockchain technology, namely for fraud prevention. In April, an Islamic scholar declared bitcoin permissible under Sharia law after a study conducted by Blossom Finance, an Indonesian investing firm, investigated the functionality of bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies, and found that they were congruent with Islamic definitions of money.
Islamic trade finance is poised for change with the launch of new products and common standards as Islamic banks look to grab market share away from traditional lenders which are retreating from the sector because of regulatory constraints.
Islamic banks have been laggards in trade finance but some see a business opportunity, attracted by strong global trade growth in regions where Islamic banks are active such as Southeast Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.
South America isn’t known to be a popular region for Islamic finance. This has to do with the dominance of Christianity there and the comparably low number of Muslims – around 4mn – predominantly in Brazil and Argentina.
However, in the recent past, there have been some activities to conquer this bastion and approach it as a new frontier for Islamic finance in some smaller countries
Egypt is considering tapping the international sukuk market in the coming fiscal year, as it looks to diversify funding sources to drive forward its economic revival efforts.
The Shariah-compliant issuance, either in dollar or euro-denominated sukuk, which Finance Minister Mohamed Maait hopes will happen in fiscal 2018-19, would mark a revival of a plan shelved since 2013 when the government under then-president Mohamed Mursi issued the law to pave the way for the country’s first Islamic bond.
Bank of Uganda (BOU) has finalised the Islamic banking regulations following the amendment of the financial institutions act.
The new form of banking is expected to lead to increased investment in Uganda’s financial sector from numerous Islamic Banks that provide commercial services free from interest (Riba in Arabic), compliant with the religious tenets of Islam.
Total Sukuk issuance dropped by 15.3 per cent compared with the same period last year, reaching $44.2 billion compared with $52.2 billion first half of 2017. This drop was even more pronounced for foreign currency Sukuk issuance at 45 per cent, likely due to the absence of major issuances from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries seen in 2017.
In the second half of 2018, S&P expects Sukuk issuance volumes will continue to be slowed by the global tightening of liquidity conditions as well as by lower financing needs of some GCC countries as a result of oil prices stabilising at higher levels.
Investors hope that insurance volumes will rise as women have begun driving.
Saudi insurers posted significant gains on Sunday, on hopes that insurance volumes will rise as women began driving in Saudi Arabia, in the end of the world's last ban on female drivers.
There’s an anomaly forming in Bahrain’s debt market.
The yield on the island kingdom’s dollar bonds maturing July 2022 is about 150 basis points higher than Islamic securities due two years later, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s unusual because longer-dated notes typically have higher yields.
Firms involved in Islamic finance are lobbying the British government for tax reforms, arguing that the treatment of some sharia-compliant structures is hindering their growth.
Britain has actively pursued Islamic finance to become the Western world's biggest hub for it and banks are now seeking to ensure tax parity in areas such as mortgage refinancing as they compete head-on with their conventional peers.