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Islamic Finance
Malaysian e-wallet start-up to offer Islamic services by Ramadan

MyMy sets its sights on e-money following pivot from digital challenger bank.

 

Prospective Malaysian digital bank MyMy expects to begin offering Shariah services by Ramadan next year, as it completes a pivot to become an e-money provider.

Joe McGuire, co-founder of the fintech firm, which expects to launch conventional e-wallet services next year, said MyMy is still in discussions with Malaysia’s central bank about the Shariah products it intends to offer.

“What we are trying to put forward is unique and it will also require sign-off from our Shariah committee before we can progress it,” McGuire told Salaam Gateway.

“The date isn’t set in stone yet, because there’s Bank Negara (Malaysia’s central bank) and a bunch of other people who have to say yes first. But we have ambitions to do that.”

In 2019, MyMy set out to become the world’s first standalone central bank-licenced Islamic challenger bank, after Bank Negara announced it would provide five digital banking licences. It was one of a number of start-ups and consortiums to throw their hats in the ring. The winners of the licences are expected to be announced early next year.

By September that year, MyMy had received a 10 million ringgit ($2.4 million) seed injection from Koperasi Tentera, an association of Malaysia’s armed forces veterans and one of the country’s leading credit co-operatives. 

Now, two years later, it is reported that the start-up has received overall funding of 23 million ringgit ($5.5 million), most recently with a 4 million ringgit ($956 million) injection mostly from existing investors.

However, while its sights remain set on eventually becoming a challenger bank, MyMy’s focus is more immediately on being an e-wallet player, having been granted a conditional e-money licence from Bank Negara to do so earlier this year.

To bolster its ambitions in this regard, MyMy has just received approval for a principal membership from Mastercard to include prepaid physical and virtual cards in its offering. With this membership, MyMy will be allowed to issue its own credit cards.

“We’re the only genuine standalone start-up that has that,” said McGuire. He said other e-money services BigPay and Boost were only able to attain this membership through their respective ownership by AirAsia and Axiata, both major companies. 

“For a standalone startup to get that membership, that’s never happened in Malaysia; otherwise, we would have needed 10 million ringgit in paid-up capital. We are getting our own bank identification—six of the digits on the card—from them, and after we integrate that we will go into testing in November and start external beta testing with customers in January."

Notwithstanding MyMy’s charge into e-money, it still has plans to become a digital bank, in the mould of UK headquartered challenger Revolut. Although it had originally hoped to be awarded one of the five online banking licences on offer from Bank Negara, e-wallets are now the priority.

To illustrate this, McGuire outlined the path to becoming a digital bank in Malaysia: A candidate would first need to have 100 million ringgit ($23.9 million) in its account, even before being granted one of the licences. Only then could it move towards trying to launch any banking products.

“So all that these guys who take this route are doing is putting in a proposal. They won’t get to buy their technology or integrate it until they get the go-ahead for a licence in April or May next year,” said McGuire 

“And then they will have two years of work ahead of them before they can launch. By then, they will have laid out 100 million and probably put down another 200m [$47.8 million] to put a product to market.”

MyMy’s approach will be to use a corresponding amount to entice several million e-wallet customers over time, during which it will find out what they want while ensuring they are retained as its customers.

“Only then, in four or five years, when we have a really sound business, will we become a bank,” said McGuire. 

“If you look globally, we are yet to find a successful digital bank that has started out as a digital bank. They all started as e-wallet providers, like we will do, and then they graduated or evolved to finally become digital banks.”

This approach will mean that the route to making big banking money will take longer for MyMy, given that it will not be able to generate major income from cash management and net interest margin, which account for about 90 percent of consumer bank revenue. 

McGuire maintains that the start-up, backed by its growing cushion of investment money, is not looking to be highly profitable from day one; rather, MyMy is looking to build a product that generates trust about its brand. 

“From a profitability perspective, it will be much lower, but it also means that every dollar that we receive from funding we can use for the business and not for the regulator.

“None of the successful models of digital banking around the world started with a licence—even Revolut still doesn’t have a digital banking licence. What is important is to use the time well and build a solid customer base for our business,” said McGuire.

 

© SalaamGateway.com 2021 All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
Sub-Sahara ought to change tack in TB war

Published 26 Oct,2021 via Business Daily - Before Covid-19 came along, tuberculosis (TB) was a primary focus of health authorities in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2019, approximately 1.4 million people were diagnosed with TB in the region, but epidemiologists estimated that 1 million more had TB but were neither diagnosed nor treated.

The scope and intensity of the global TB epidemic is fuelled by antiquated and inadequate TB drugs, most of which were developed more than 50 years ago. But, given how contagious TB is, we need to find and treat many more people. And then came Covid-19, the only infectious disease that killed more people than TB in 2020. The regional numbers have held steady this past year, according to the WHO, but a deeper dive shows that more attention is needed.

In Nigeria, Africa’s largest country by population, nearly three out of every four cases of TB were missed. Ethiopia, Africa’s second-largest country, fared better, missing less than one out of every three cases. Kenya, a hub for international development in East Africa, missed almost half its TB cases.South Africa — which has one of the heaviest burdens in the world of drug-resistant TB infections, TB/HIV co-infections, and all TB infections in total — missed 40 percent of its cases in 2020.

Last month, a new report found that the number of people treated for TB in 2020 declined by 18 percent. Even more troubling, the number of people treated for the worst cases of drug-resistant TB strains declined by 37 percent. Drug-resistant TB can be easily spread by a cough or a sneeze.

In 2018, pledges amounting to $13.5 billion annually were made at a UN meeting to help governments find and treat TB patients. We are less than halfway to meeting these pledges, and as a result, TB has increased in strength in sub-Saharan Africa and other Global South.It’s time to strengthen our resolve and tackle all of the diseases that afflict our most vulnerable communities.

© Copyright 2021 Nation Media Group. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Islamic Finance
Nigeria starts digital currency after banning crypto exchange

Published 25 Oct,2021 via Bloomberg Markets - The Central Bank of Nigeria joined a growing list of emerging markets betting on digital money to cut transaction costs and boost participation in the formal financial system.

The digital currency and its underlining technology called blockchain is expected to increase Nigeria’s gross domestic product and remittances, President Muhammadu Buhari said in televised speech at the launch in Abuja, the capital.

The issuance of the digital currency, called the eNaira, comes after the central bank earlier in February outlawed banks and financial institutions from transacting in or operating in cryptocurrencies as they posed a threat to the financial system.

Central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, are national currency -- unlike their crypto counterparts, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, which are prized, in part, because they are not tied to fiat currency.

The eNaira will complement the physical naira, which has weakened 5.6% this year despite the central bank’s efforts to stabilize the currency.

The Central Bank of Nigeria in August selected Bitt Inc. as a technical partner to help create the currency that was initially due to be rolled out on Oct. 1.

Nigeria joins the Bahamas and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank in being among the first jurisdictions in the world to roll out national digital currencies. China launched a pilot version of its “digital renminbi” earlier this year. In Africa, nations from Ghana to South Africa are testing digital forms of their legal tender to allow for faster and cheaper money transactions, without losing control over their monetary systems.

The Nigerian digital currency will complement bills in circulation and is expected to boost cross-border trade and financial inclusion, make transactions more efficient as well as improve monetary policy, according to the central bank.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved

 

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Halal Industry
Prices of food items in Pakistan see surge in three years

Published 26 Oct,2021 via Dawn - From plain bread and milk to flour and cooking oil, Pakistanis are paying substantially more than they did a year ago for just about all everyday food items.

For example, the per-kilo price of vegetable ghee has risen 27 per cent every year on average for the last three years. Retail prices of cooking oil, sugar and pulse Mash have gone up 23pc, 22pc and 21pc, respectively, every year since October 2018.

According to Abid Qaiyum Suleri, executive director of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, the main trigger for food inflation in Pakistan is the cost of imported fuels. Unusually high international prices of commodities, such as petroleum products as well as palm oil, have contributed heavily to food inflation in the local market, he said. “Food prices tend to go up as soon as the rates of petroleum products increase.”

Cost of imported fuels termed main trigger for food inflation

Prices of petrol and diesel have increased 14pc and 8pc, respectively, every year for the last three years. The per-unit electricity rate has also gone up more than 16pc per annum over the same three-year period.

“The second most important trigger is the flour price. People use it as a benchmark. Any increase in the flour rate automatically leads to a jump in food prices across the board,” Mr Suleri said.

The increase in flour price has been 15pc a year since October 2018.

Urban food inflation was 10.8pc in September as opposed to 9.1pc general inflation in urban areas during the same month, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. With the exception of a couple of months, urban food inflation has stayed in double digits for the last two years at least.

Without taking compounding into account, the absolute increase in the prices of cooking oil, sugar and chicken over the last three years has been 88pc, 83pc and 60pc, respectively. Prices of beef, eggs, milk and rice have gone up 48pc, 47pc, 33pc and 29pc, respectively, over the same three-year period.

Food prices are largely inelastic i.e. consumers’ buying patterns don’t change significantly when prices go up or down. That’s why food prices rise at a faster pace than the prices of everything else, according to economist Dr Kaiser Bengali.

“Inflation here is largely driven by international prices. But that contributes mainly to supply-side inflation. The government has done nothing to control the demand-side pressure,” he said.

For example, reducing non-development expenditures should ease the demand-side pressure on food prices, he said. “The supply-side pressure on inflation can be neutralised by managing the demand side. The government isn’t doing that. The squeeze is taking place on both sides,” he said, adding that the country’s fiscal policy is “completely driven by the government’s revenue needs” and has no other objective.

Soaring profits of listed companies

While consumers continue to get crushed under the unrelenting food inflation for the past many years, publicly traded consumer companies — in discretionary, staple and pharmaceutical segments — recorded a 92pc increase in profits on a year-on-year basis during the April-June quarter.

According to a research report by Topline Securities, companies like Nestle Pakistan, Rafhan Maize Products and Frieslandcampina Engro Pakistan recorded earnings growth of 33pc, 60pc and 105pc, respectively, on an annual basis during the April-June period.

“Staple companies’ profits improved 29pc year-on-year during the quarter. This came on the back of an improvement in net sales by 25pc, which was driven by increased demand, introduction of new products and higher prices,” said the report.Copyright

© Pakistan Herald Publications (Pvt.) Ltd

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Islamic Finance
Al Baraka Islamic Bank launches new digital app for its customers

Published 26 Oct,2021 via bizbahrain - As part of its digital transformation journey, Al Baraka Islamic Bank (AIB), one of the leading Bahraini financial institutions in the field of Islamic banking, announced the launch of its digital application.

The newly launched app was specifically curated to meet customers’ banking needs by providing them with easy access to seamless banking transactions and a range of products and services without the need to visit the branch. The digital app which will be rolled out across four phases, and will provide customers with an exceptional banking experience at their fingertips. The features of the app will include a digital customer on-boarding by scanning their National ID, easy and fast transfer and payment services, as well as cards and accounts management. In addition, the new digital app will also include quality of life features such as home page customization, web login using QR code, multiple account login, saving payments as shortcuts, performing actions outside the app, among many other features.

Commenting on this occasion, Mr. Hamad Abdulla Al Oqab, Chief Executive Officer of Al Baraka Islamic Bank said: “We are proud to be launching our new digital app, which goes in line with our continuous efforts to meet the growing digital needs of our customers. We are also confident that this newly launched app will place us at the forefront of the banking digitalization wave to survive and thrive in a digital era. At Al Baraka Islamic Bank, we strive to become a digital-driven bank that is capable of providing an effective digital experience to all our stakeholders, internal and external, which will substantially support the business growth, cost reduction, and operational efficiency.”

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed a vast change in the business mindset towards digital banking, which has led to our digital transformation journey with the purpose of elevating the Bank’s performance digitally in the market, as well as achieving our business objectives and positioning the bank in the Kingdom’s digital economy. We aim to continuously meet the banking needs of our customers during this ever-changing digital era, by providing them with easy access to a range of our products and services through this newly launched app,” he added.

With its establishment in 1984 in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Al Baraka Islamic Bank B.S.C. – Bahrain has a longstanding track record of delivering excellence, innovation and superior results. The Bank ranks among the leading providers of Islamic banking products and services to its international clientele and focuses primarily on developing innovative and distinguished Investment solutions in compliance with Islamic Sharia principles, supported by its sound financial solutions.

© Copyright 2021 bizbahrain

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Macroeconomics
Cairo, Doha discuss joint relations, regional issues

Published 26 Oct,2021 via Asharq Alawsat (English Edition) - Cairo and Doha held talks on bilateral relation and regional issues as part of efforts to bolster Egyptian-Qatari ties.

Egyptian Ambassador to Qatar, Amr Sherbini met on Sunday with Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Soltan bin Saad Al Muraikhi.

They tackled means to bolster bilateral ties, as well as regional and international issues of common interest.

An Egyptian foreign ministry statement said Al Muraikhi welcomed Sherbini’s appointment as Egypt’s new ambassador to Doha.

He hailed the ongoing development of relations between their countries after they mended ties following a diplomatic and economic rift that lasted four years.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain mended ties with Qatar earlier this year by signing the AlUla Declaration.

Since then, Egyptian and Qatari foreign ministers have exchanged visits and Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi held bilateral talks with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Baghdad in August.

The Egyptian foreign ministry highlighted the rapprochement with Qatar, hoping cooperation can be further bolstered in the future.

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Macroeconomics
Egypt, Czech discuss strengthening bilateral cooperation in tourism, antiquities

Published 25 Oct,2021 via Daily News Egypt - Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anany with the Czech ambassador to Cairo Jan Volk, and Tomas Zima, President of the Czech Charles University to discuss strengthening tourism cooperation between the two countries.

The meeting was attended also by Miroslav Bárta, Vice-President of the University, Oldrich Vondrouska, the Czech Cultural Adviser, Youmna Al-Bahar, Assistant Minister for Technical Affairs, and Dalia Abdel-Fattah, General Supervisor of the General Department of International Relations and Agreements in the Ministry.

El-Anany applauded the bilateral relations between the two countries in all fields, especially the fields of tourism and antiquities.

The two sides discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries to boost tourist movement from the Czech Republic to Egypt. The meeting also tackled ways of exchanging experiences and training in the field of archaeological work such as excavations and restoration.

During the meeting, El-Anany expressed his full appreciation for the confidence of the Czech government in the precautionary measures applied by the Egyptian government, as Czech tourists are among the first nationalities received by Egypt after the resumption of the incoming tourist movement in July 2020.

The Czech delegation expressed its happiness with its country’s hosting of the Kings of the Sun exhibition. They pointed out that the exhibition met with great success and demand from Czech citizens and its neighbouring European countries as well, which prompted the Czech government to request an extension to host this exhibition twice.

© 2021 Daily News Egypt.

 

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Islamic Lifestyle
Pakistan’s Federal Shariat Court declares swara as un-Islamic

Published 26 Oct,2021 via Dawn - The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) has declared the custom of swara as un-Islamic.

A three-judge bench, headed by FSC Chief Justice Noor Mohammad Meskenzai, observed that the tradition of giving away a minor girl to settle disputes was against the injunctions of Islam.

Taking up a petition filed by one Sakeena Bibi, the bench held that Ulema had developed a consensus that vani, or swara, was against the teachings of Islam.

Swara is a custom where girls, often minors, are given in marriage or servitude to an aggrieved family as compensation to end disputes, often murder. It is a form of arranged or forced child marriage and the result of punishment decided by a council of tribal elders called jirga.

Says tradition of giving minor girl to settle dispute is against injunctions of Islam

The petitioner, a concerned citizen, challenged the custom of vani for many reasons. According to the petition, the tradition which is being practiced in jirgas and panchayat — the traditional fora for dispute resolution — usurps the fundamental rights of a woman or young girl.

It argued that jirga or panchayat misconstrued the concept ‘badl-i-sulah’ — compensation to settle a dispute by offering a young girl to the aggrieved family. The petitioner requested the court to declare this custom as illegal.

Dr Mohammad Aslam Khaki, Jurist Consult at FSC, said vani violated at least four fundamental rights. According to him, since the girl is offered by the accused family, she in most of the cases is deprived of even basic facilities, hence subjected to discrimination.

Secondly, she is wedded to a man without her consent. Thirdly, she is not entitled to dower, and fourthly, she cannot file legal suit for khula — dissolution of marriage.

According to Dr Khaki, the legitimate way to settle a murder is payment of diyat or blood money, which is acceptable in Islam; however, traditional forums for dispute resolution consider vani or swara as legitimate way to settle dispute. But Ulema do not accept the practice as Islamic.Copyright

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Islamic Lifestyle
New Ryanair routes to bring 39,000 more tourists to Jordan

Published 25 Oct,2021 via The Jordan Times - The Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) and the Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair on Monday signed an agreement to add six additional routes to the Kingdom, contributing to a total of 22 routes that now link Jordan with 14 European countries.

Tourism Minister and JTB Chairman Nayef Fayez, during a press conference, said that this increase will serve more than 300,000 passengers arriving and departing from Queen Alia International Airport in Amman and King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Fayez also noted that the Kingdom is witnessing a positive trend in tourism activity, expressing appreciation for Ryanair for increasing its routes to Jordan.

The minister noted that low-cost flights helped Jordan gain momentum before the pandemic, which enabled the Kingdom to realise "a big leap" in increasing the number of tourists in Jordan.

JTB Managing Director Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat said that signing the agreement will contribute to increasing the number of tourists and distributing development gains to all governorates.

Arabiyat also said that the six new routes will increase the number of tourists in the Kingdom by an average of 39,000, which will contribute to achieving the tourism sector’s envisioned returns.

The new routes will connect Amman with Madrid, Paris, Rome and Vienna, as well as connect Aqaba with Vienna.

Ray Kelliher, director of Route Development at Ryanair, expressed happiness for the company's expansion in the Kingdom as a direct result of cooperation with the JTB through 2021 winter routes.

Kelliher said that the company will start selling seats in celebration of the winter trips to Jordan at prices starting at only JD17 (19.99 euros) for travel until the end of next March, whose bookings are made before midnight of next Wednesday.

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