Islamic banking is adapting to digitalization, experts say at financial summit

Islamic banking is adapting to digitalization, experts say at financial summit
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Updated 12 November 2021

Islamic banking is adapting to digitalization, experts say at financial summit

Islamic banking is adapting to digitalization, experts say at financial summit

JEDDAH: From protection of cyber data breaches to ease of banking services, Islamic banking is adapting to the digital transformation without compromising on Sharia principles, one of the region's leading financial figures has told Arab News.

Bello Danbatta, Secretary-General of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), said digitalization is key if the sector wants to reach out to those who have been left behind by traditional ways of banking.

Danbetta was speaking at the 15th IFSB summit, held at Jeddah’s Ritz Carlton Hotel and attended by governors of central banks from across the region, as well as other leading financial figures. 

He told Arab News: “Islamic finance really sees digitalization as an enabler, as an opportunity for you to strive and grow by reaching out to the unbankables, especially for the financial inclusion agenda. So it is really an essential component. So we see it as a great opportunity for the Islamic finance to grow.”

“Islamic finance supports any platform that could be used to drive its objectives by reaching out to support the Ummah and build the economy. But at the same time we do, we must make sure that whatever digitalization is coming up is actually in line with the Shariah principles,” he added.

Danbatta said the development in many other IFSB member jurisdictions from 57 countries, actually demonstrated the progress made within these parameters.  

“A lot of effort and work has been done in terms of digitalizing Islamic financial services in their respective jurisdictions, and at the same time without compromising the Sharia principles,” he said.

Fahad Al-Mubarak, Saudi Central Bank Governor, spoke at the event and said the aim of this transformation is for the Islamic financial industry to benefit from innovation.

“Achieving a balance between innovation and status, as the summit seeks to focus on the development of the Islamic financial industry and digital transformation from the perspective of a balance between the ability to benefit from innovation and at the same time enhancing the position and stability of the financial sector,” he said.

“The Islamic financial industry has been able to maintain its demanding growth and has been able to spread geographically to what it is today; present in all continents of the world and the vast majority of countries,” he added.

Ayman Sejiny, CEO of Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector also said Islamic banking is actually finding it very important to have digitalization. 

“In ICD, we are 55 member countries under which we have 119 financial institutions, our financial institutions throughout all member countries usually find digitalization to be an amazing way to reach out and have financial inclusion of our clientele base because of our geographical locations and the widespread of our member countries, it helps out to have digitalization,” he told Arab News.


ADNOC debt issuer holds investor meetings ahead of debut bonds

ADNOC debt issuer holds investor meetings ahead of debut bonds
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 6 sec ago

ADNOC debt issuer holds investor meetings ahead of debut bonds

ADNOC debt issuer holds investor meetings ahead of debut bonds
  • The ability to tap the debt capital markets will give ADNOC flexibility to raise debt with longer tenors and potentially better pricing

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s newly set up debt-issuing unit, ADNOC Murban, began holding investor meetings on Tuesday ahead of its debut bond sale expected this year, an investors’ note seen by Reuters showed.


The meetings, coordinated by JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, will run through Friday and will target investors in Asia, Europe, the United States, and the Middle East and Africa, according to the note.


ADNOC and JPMorgan did not respond to emailed requests for comment. Morgan Stanley declined to comment.


The ability to tap the debt capital markets will give ADNOC flexibility to raise debt with longer tenors and potentially better pricing.


In an investor presentation reviewed by Reuters, ADNOC Group’s chief investment officer said ADNOC has traditionally financed itself with equity and limited use of bank loans.


“We think it’s useful for modern treasury to add access to the debt capital markets to our financing toolkit, to complete the set of instruments available to us,” CIO Klaus Froehlich said.


Regional peer Saudi Aramco issued its debut bonds in April 2019, raising $12 billion ahead of its record $29.4 billion initial public offering.

Qatar Energy also raised $12.5 billion in last year’s largest bond sale out of emerging markets.


“For clarity, we do not intend to access the markets in the same way our regional peers have done with a jumbo inaugural debt offering. More likely, we will be accessing the market in sizes of around $3 to $5 billion per annum,” Froehlich said.


Proceeds from the upcoming bond sale will be used to refinance loans, he said. ADNOC has $6 billion in loans maturing this year and $10 billion over the following three years.


“But, just so that you understand, we just paid back a $3 billion bank line in cash, so this bond program is not necessarily a necessity to refinance bank loans, but a proactive move in order to build a curve,” Froehlich said.


Investors have previously been offered bonds carrying ADNOC risk indirectly.


ADNOC billed Murban as a “superior proposition for bondholders” in the investor presentation, in part due to a prospective “highest ranking position in ADNOC’s cash waterfall.”


ADNOC Murban investors get paid before ADNOC Group royalties, most operating expenditures, and tax, the presentation said.


Named after ADNOC’s flagship crude grade Murban, the debt-issuing unit is expected to be rated AA by S&P, Aa2 by Moody’s and AA by Fitch, ADNOC Murban said in a statement earlier on Tuesday.


It said the ratings are aligned with its shareholder, the emirate of Abu Dhabi, a regular issuer in the debt capital markets.


Debt issued by ADNOC Murban will not receive guarantees from ADNOC or the Abu Dhabi government, S&P said in its rating report on Tuesday.


“Murban takes momentary ownership of the Murban barrels assigned to it by ADNOC under the assignment agreement and immediately sells the same... barrels to ADNOC Trading and ADNOC,” S&P said.


“Murban has effectively been inserted in the crude oil value chain such that it owns no reserves and bears no production costs, royalties, or taxes, but has the first claim on the cash proceeds from these Murban crude oil barrels.”


IMF keeps Saudi Arabia’s growth forecast unchanged at 4.8%

IMF keeps Saudi Arabia’s growth forecast unchanged at 4.8%
Updated 8 min 46 sec ago

IMF keeps Saudi Arabia’s growth forecast unchanged at 4.8%

IMF keeps Saudi Arabia’s growth forecast unchanged at 4.8%

Saudi Arabia’s economy is set to expand by 4.8 percent in 2022, the International Monetary Fund said in a report as it kept its estimate from October unchanged.

Similarly, there were no changes made to the Kingdom’s 2023 projection, which stood at 2.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the international lender uplifted its expansion expectation for the Middle East and North Africa by 0.3 percent to 4.4 percent.

Last week, the World Bank upwardly revised the Kingdom’s forecast by 1.6 percent to a similar 4.9 percent, on stronger rebound in the oil sector, and it also favorably altered the MENA’s projection by 0.8 percent to the same 4.4 percent in 2022.

However, the global outlook seemed more pessimistic, according to the IMF’s recent World Economic Outlook Update. It trimmed the global economy’s 2022 growth forecast by 0.5 percent to 4.4 percent.

The IMF explained that the omicron outbreak, higher energy prices and supply disruptions all present risks to the outlook, stating that the two largest economies in the world are grappling with different issues.

The US projection declined by 1.2 percent to 4 percent. The organization removed the $1.7 trillion Build Back Better fiscal plan from its baseline scenario and assumed monetary tightening and supply shortages.

Moreover, due to China’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy – which resulted in some disruptions – and its property crisis, the country’s outlook became gloomier by 0.8 percent to 4.8 percent


UK invests $83.17m in offshore wind projects; Italy’s Enel to duplicate local plant in the US: NRG matters

UK invests $83.17m in offshore wind projects; Italy’s Enel to duplicate local plant in the US: NRG matters
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 9 min 47 sec ago

UK invests $83.17m in offshore wind projects; Italy’s Enel to duplicate local plant in the US: NRG matters

UK invests $83.17m in offshore wind projects; Italy’s Enel to duplicate local plant in the US: NRG matters
  • The UK government has allocated £31.6 million ($42.57 million) to 11 floating offshore wind projects

RIYADH: While resistance and instability in the energy sector such as those in Europe persist on a macro level, investments and expansions like those in the UK, Tanzania, and Italy dominate the sector on a micro level.

Looking at the bigger picture:

Qatar will not be able to provide Europe with natural gas supplies if Russian flows come to a halt, Bloomberg reported.

This comes as the Middle Eastern country remains committed to long term contracts with neighboring Asian countries that it is not willing to jeopardize in return for political rewards from Europe and the US.

The UK government sets power capacity auction targets for 2022 and 2023 at 14 percent above the national grid’s recommendation, Bloomberg reported.

This comes as the country wants to secure enough power to meet future winter demand and curb potential blackouts in the case that unprecedented events in the sector take place.

Through a micro lens:

The UK government has allocated £31.6 million ($42.57 million) to 11 floating offshore wind projects that aim to make use of the country’s windy coastline, CNBC reported.

An additional £30 million will flow in from the private industry as well.

The investment boost will be utilized in the development of new up to date technologies that will allow the turbines to reside in the windiest parts around Britain’s coastline.

Tanzania chooses US multinational law firm, Baker Botts LLP as a consultant to help advance a $30 billion worth liquified natural gas, or LNG, plan, Bloomberg reported.

The plan entails the construction of an onshore LNG facility to help unveil natural gas findings in the southern part of the African country.

Italian multinational manufacturer and distributor of electricity and gas, Enel intends to duplicate its local solar panel plant in the US, Reuters reported.

This follows an announcement that the firm plans to boost capacity in its domestic factory to reach 3 gigawatts.


Crypto exchange FTX US valued at $8 bln as first fundraise draws SoftBank, Temasek

Crypto exchange FTX US valued at $8 bln as first fundraise draws SoftBank, Temasek
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 19 min 44 sec ago

Crypto exchange FTX US valued at $8 bln as first fundraise draws SoftBank, Temasek

Crypto exchange FTX US valued at $8 bln as first fundraise draws SoftBank, Temasek
  • In October, FTX US acquired LedgerX in a move to expand into crypto futures and options trading

Cryptocurrency exchange FTX US said on Wednesday it had notched a valuation of $8 billion after raising $400 million in its first funding round from investors including Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings.


The Series A funding also includes investments from crypto investment firm Paradigm and Multicoin Capital.


“What this raise means to us is that we are officially establishing ourselves on the stage of the largest competitors of cryptocurrency exchanges in the US, and signaling to the world that we are going to continue to expand very rapidly,” FTX US President Brett Harrison said.


With the value of cryptocurrencies surging, surpassing $3 trillion in November, venture capital investors are increasingly looking to put down stakes in the industry.


Venture capital firms invested $30 billion in crypto in 2021, according to research firm PitchBook.


Chicago-based FTX US was launched in 2020 by former Wall Street high frequency trading executives, and competes with leading crypto exchanges Coinbase and Binance.


In October, FTX US acquired LedgerX in a move to expand into crypto futures and options trading.


FTX US had an average daily volume of about $360 million in the third quarter, according to the company. Its users increased by 52 percent quarter over quarter, though the company has declined to share how many users it has overall.


FTX US said it intends to use the funds to grow its user base and launch new business lines, and will also consider strategic investments and acquisitions.


It also plans to expand its 100-strong staff, said Harrison, who previously worked at Citadel Securities.


“By having this capital, we’re able to go out and be competitive and hire the best people,” he said.


Saudi stocks edge up in line with oil prices: Opening bell

Saudi stocks edge up in line with oil prices: Opening bell
Updated 26 January 2022

Saudi stocks edge up in line with oil prices: Opening bell

Saudi stocks edge up in line with oil prices: Opening bell

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian stocks opened higher on Wednesday as they tracked the energy market that witnessed a rebound in oil prices.

Brent crude oil crossed $88 per barrel, and US benchmark WTI crude oil reached $85.5 per barrel as of 10:15 a.m. Saudi time.

The main index TASI rose 0.3 percent to 12,139 points, and the parallel market Nomu edged up 0.2 percent to 25,595 points as of 10:24 a.m.

Shares in Saudi Automotive Services Co., known as SASCO, soared nearly 10 percent, topping early morning gains.

SASCO has earlier acquired 80 percent of gas station operator NAFT Services Limited Co. for $1.1 billion ($293 million).

Saudi oil giant Aramco awarded a SR268 million contract to Arabian Pipes Co. to provide steel pipes.

The share price of the latter surged 2.6 percent in response to the transaction, while Aramco opened 0.14 lower.

One of the Kingdom’s largest valued banks, Al Rajhi Bank edged 0.14 lower, whereas Alinma Bank added 0.18 percent amid trading of over 1 million shares.

Advanced Petrochemical recorded gains at 4.3 percent after its board recommended boosting capital to SR2.6 billion in expansion push.

Telecommunication firm Etihad Atheeb led the fallers, down over 3 percent.