HSBC Amanah, the Islamic finance part of HSBC, announced that it will launch a pilot project for Islamic microfinance in Rawalpindi, Pakistan with Islamic Relief.
There were few details about how the microfinance will be carried out, but HSBC will provide the Shari’ah advisory and product structuring part and Islamic Relief will screen beneficiaries and administer the program. Dinar Standard discussed the opportunities for Islamic finance, particularly Islamic microfinance, to use the rapid growth in mobile phones to expand. The Principal Financial Group becomes the latest western financial firm to enter Islamic finance, announcing that it will work with CIMB Islamic in Malaysia. Islamic finance will also soon be available in the Maldives
- A Malaysian paper presents a basic introduction to Islamic finance using the example of how takaful differs from conventional insurance.
- An Kenyan paper features an article by the CEO of Gulf African Bank, an Islamic bank in the country, about the idea of ‘time value of money’ in Islamic finance.
- Hong Kong will likely not change the tax law before the Airport Authority issues the first sukuk from a government agency in the city-state, although taxes (mostly asset transfer taxes) will be waived to ensure that the sukuk can be competitive with a conventional bond.
- Failaka, a company commonly known for its survey of Islamic mutual funds around the world, recently published a guide to Shari’ah scholars with biographical, educational and professional details about the 100 most active Shari’ah scholars in the world.
- Islamic financial firm Siraj Capital is launching a web portal on Islamic finance called Sukuk.net to provide information on the rapidly growing area of finance.
- CPI Financial has an article on the higher than market returns seen in Shari’ah-compliant indexes in the second quarter of 2008, largely due to their exclusion of financial stocks.
- Birmingham, UK is becoming the hub for retail Islamic finance in Europe and business there are encouraged to enter the Islamic finance market.
- The Indonesian sukuk will be launched using an ijara structure using Finance Ministry assets. A domestic local currency sukuk will be issued while an international, dollar-denominated one will follow in October.
UPDATE: Reuters reports that Indonesia will push back the dollar-denominated international sukuk to November because of lower business activity during the month of Ramadan.
Islamic financial institutions face risks not only from cloning conventional products in Shari’ah-compliant forms, but also from cloning business models of established Islamic financial companies says the governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain.