Islamic finance and fintech practitioners came together on the 24th January for the inaugural meeting of the UK Islamic Fintech Panel. According to the recent Islamic Fintech Landscape report by RED money Group, the UK has the second-largest number of Islamic fintech firms at 18, second only to Malaysia which has 21 fintech firms.
The panel chaired by Harris Irfan, a partner at Gateway Islamic Advisory, aims to create momentum in the Islamic fintech sector by leveraging London’s position as a global fintech hub and recognized center for Islamic finance. Al Rayan Bank plans to raise GBP250 million (US$345.57 million) via a residential mortgage-backed securitization Sukuk. The proposed Sukuk would help fund the bank’s ongoing efforts to expand into commercial real estate, private banking and small business financing.
Rating agency Moody’s Investors Service has assigned a provisional ‘AAA’ rating to the Sukuk, which would consist of a portfolio of first lien home purchase plans secured by residential properties. On the strength of its growth last year, Al Rayan won two prestigious awards in January including the ‘Best Islamic Bank in the UK’ for 2017 at the Islamic Finance news (IFN) Awards and the ‘UK’s Best Cash ISA Provider’ at the eighth annual Moneynet Personal Finance Awards.
Winners of the annual IFN Best Banks awards are determined by votes cast by the industry itself, including Islamic finance issuers, investors, non-banking financial intermediaries and government bodies.
The bank also announced a 1% reduction in the rental rates for its ‘Buy to Let Purchase Plans’ and a new maximum finance to value band of 75% on the plans, up from 65% previously. This would make Al Rayan with the UK’s lowest Shariah compliant buy to let finance rental rates in the market.
In other news, UAE-based energy company Dana Gas must repay US$700 million-worth of Islamic bonds as London High Court Judge George Leggatt rejected an attempt by the company to overturn his decision from last November that the purchase undertaking behind the Sukuk was valid and enforceable. This was another setback for the company which is trying to resolve a dispute over the payment and the Shariah status of its Sukuk.
This article was first published in Islamic Finance news Volume 15 Issue 7 dated the 14th February 2018.