London mosque accepts bitcoin during holy month

A man works on a laptop beneath the Bitcoin logo. (Reuters)
Updated 28 May 2018
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London mosque accepts bitcoin during holy month

  • East London mosque accepts cryptocurrencies
  • On track to double donations in a year

Looking for a new way to give money to charity as part of Ramadan? A mosque in Britain’s capital is willing to receive your donation — in bitcoin.

The Shacklewell Lane Mosque in Dalston, east London, has decided to accept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in a bid to widen its donor base and cut down on currency conversion fees, mosque leaders said.

“For a donor that already has a bitcoin or an ethereum account, the effort of converting cryptocurrency into say British pounds or dollars can be quite burdensome. The mosque effectively takes the burden on themselves,” said blockchain consultant Lukasz Musial, who helped the mosque set up the technology.

“For the donor, it’s just the click of a button to transfer to an account provided by the charity. From the mosque’s perspective, it opens a new stream of donations coming from all over the world,” Musial said.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti, the nation’s top Sunni Muslim official, said this year bitcoin was not permitted according to Islamic law, Egyptian media reported, but Shacklewell imam Abdalla Adeyemi defended the mosque’s decision.

“Bitcoin is like any other currency. It’s ... accepted by a group of people ... We ourselves are not trading. We are not involved ... we are a charity,” Adeyemi told Reuters.
The mosque says it is one of a handful to accept cryptocurrencies out of hundreds in London and its move is yielding results. It said it is on track to double its donations this year to more than £10,000 ($13,300).

Muslims with the means are religiously obliged to give alms, often calculated based on Islamic texts as being 2.5 percent of their wealth, and many do so during the holy month, a time when Muslim charities are most active.


World’s biggest sovereign fund worried about trade wars

Updated 21 August 2018
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World’s biggest sovereign fund worried about trade wars

  • The fund posted a positive return of 1.8 percent, or 167 billion kroner ($19.8 billion), in the second quarter
  • Markets are worried about a trade dispute between the United States and China

OSLO: The managers of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, expressed concern Tuesday about global trade tensions, which could heavily impact its value.
The fund posted a positive return of 1.8 percent, or 167 billion kroner ($19.8 billion), in the second quarter, helping erase a loss of 171 billion kroner in January-March that was attributed to a volatile stock market.
The Government Pension Fund Global, which saw its total value swell to 8.33 trillion kroner by the end of June, manages the country’s oil revenues in order to finance Norway’s generous welfare state when its oil and gas wells run dry.
But Norway’s central bank, which runs the fund, said geopolitical and trade tensions presented a risk.
“It’s fair to say that increased trade barriers or even trade wars will not be beneficial for the fund as a long-term global investor,” Trond Grande, the deputy chief of Norges Bank Investment Management, told reporters.
Markets are worried about a trade dispute between the United States and China. Accusing Beijing of unfair competition, the US administration is considering slapping a new round of levies worth $200 billion on Chinese goods.
Talks between the two slated for Wednesday and Thursday aimed at resolving the dispute have however eased concerns somewhat.
Following US-Turkey tensions that sent the Turkish lira and the Istanbul stock market tumbling, the Norwegian fund said its assets there were worth less than the 23 billion kroner they were at the beginning of the year.
“We’ve seen the market rise for a long time, that there are different political and geopolitical events in the world that can affect the market, and we have to be prepared for the fact that (the value of) the fund can go down a lot,” Grande concluded.
The fund’s strong second quarter was attributed primarily to its share portfolio, which accounts for 66.8 percent of its investments and which rose by 2.7 percent.
Real estate holdings, which account for 2.6 percent of its holdings, rose by 1.9 percent, while bond investments, which represent 30.6 percent, remained flat.
Faced with falling oil revenues in recent years, the Norwegian government has been tapping the fund to finance public spending since 2015. But with oil prices recovering, the fund registered its first inflow in three years in June.