A summary of the latest Islamic finance news from around the world.
Malaysia top issuer of sustainability sukuk in ASEAN, at $3.9 billion
Malaysia leads in sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) sukuk issuance among the ASEAN6 countries, accounting for $3.9 billion of issuance value or 56% of the total ASEAN SRI sukuk issuance, as of November 2021, according to a press release. The data was released in ‘Trending: Sustainable Responsible Investment in Malaysia and the Region’, a research publication by Ernst & Young and Capital Markets Malaysia’s (CMM) Sustainable Investment Platform (SIP) on the growth trend of SRI in Malaysia and its five ASEAN neighbours, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam (the ASEAN6).
Developments in the SRI arena have catalysed the exponential growth of ASEAN sustainable bonds and sukuk. Between 2016 to 2020, the ASEAN6 markets saw significant increases, at 198% CAGR, in sustainable bonds and sukuk issuance for financing growth aligned with ESG principles, with an issuance value estimated to have reached $29.8 billion as of November 2021. Correspondingly, sustainability-themed Sharia-compliant sukuk grew exponentially higher, at 278% CAGR, and is estimated to have reached $7 billion in November 2021.
Uzbek Islamic fintech closes $1 million seed round
Startup IMAN secured $1 million in a seed round led by institutional investors in Singapore and the USA, reported IFNFintech. According to the website, the fintech, which has an app, IMAN Invest, and a buy-now-pay-later platform, IMAN Pay, is to develop a Sharia-compliant superapp “that will be accessible to Muslim-dominated markets, starting with Uzbekistan and then expanding globally. It is looking to expand into other frontier markets by early 2023.” IMAN Invest has some “30,000 users and manages over $1.2 million from over 1,000 retail investors from more than 60 countries, while IMAN Pay is connected around 100 merchants offering products and services that range from consumer electronics to healthcare and education.”
Egypt to sells it first sukuk for around $2 billion
Cairo has listed six global lenders, including Citigroup and HSBC, to manage the sale of its first sovereign Islamic bond, reported Bloomberg. Slated to happen in the second quarter, Cairo also selected Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC, Credit Agricole SA, Emirates NBD Bank PJSC and First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC. Cairo had planned to issue a sukuk some four years ago, but opted for conventional financing instead, securing $6.8 billion through Eurobonds last year.
South Africa to launch a Rand-denominated sukuk
South Africa announced in its budget this week that it plans to launch a Rand-denominated sukuk, but did not give a date, reported IOL. A sukuk had been planned for launch during the previous fiscal year. South Africa was the first African country to issue a sukuk, for $500 million in 2014. The sukuk was heavily oversubscribed, at $2.2 billion, which Pretoria is hoping will happen again. The Treasury said investor distribution consisted of “59% from the Middle East and Asia, 25% from Europe, 8% from the US and the balance from the rest of the world.”
MRHB DeFi launches Sahal Wallet, world’s first ethical and halal crypto wallet
MRHB DeFi, the world’s first ethics-based decentralised finance (DeFi) platform, is to launch Sahal Wallet, a non-custodial cryptocurrency wallet that functions as a gateway to the entire MRHB ecosystem of ethical DeFi products, according to a press release. Offering multi-chain token support — including the $MRHB token which launched in December 2021 — Sahal Wallet is currently fully integrated with MRHB DeFi’s pioneering SouqNFT Marketplace, a platform designed to be free from unethical and NSFW content.
The Wallet only lists halal tokens and projects based on a comprehensive internal assessment process. Further DeFi products and services, such as a liquidity harvester, a cross-chain DEX aggregator, decentralised philanthropy (DePhi), interest-free crypto financing and an entrepreneur launchpad are in the works and scheduled to launch over the coming months to the second quarter 2023.