Is Islamic finance the sustainable banking model the banking world has been looking for?
Islamic banking could be the more economically viable and sustainable model of financing going forward, Falak Consulting’s Research Department (FCRD) said in a report according to the Saudi Gazette
The report looks at the financial crisis of 2009 where conventional banks witnessed far greater levels of exposure in comparison to their Islamic banking counterparts and recognizes the overall potential Islamic banking and finance is able to offer the existing market.
With discussions at this year’s WIBC event highlighting similar themes including looking at “Business in the Middle East and the Role of Islamic Finance”, or “New Strategic Approaches to Revitalize Global Growth”, the potential for Islamic banking is certainly there. The FCRD report highlights recent statistics which indicate that Islamic banking is currently the fastest growing segment in the international financial system with an estimated asset size of US$1.1 trillion in 2011, representing 80.9 percent of Islamic Finance assets and 1 percent of total banking assets worldwide. Building on the same, the report goes on to establish a risk and return framework for “a healthy and transparent growth of the Islamic financial architecture” in the region.
Commenting in light of the WIBC event and the published FCRD report, Suhail Ghazi Algosaibi, Co-Founder and Chairman of Falak Consulting, said: “The 2009 financial crisis has taught us a number of things, the first being that conventional banks and current models are not invincible. It has also opened our eyes to the need to consider other options of banking that are safer, sustainable and viable, which at this point Islamic banking could potentially offer. As a result, we are now witnessing a growing number of global conventional banks exploring this potential as well as increased discussions around the future and way forward for Islamic Finance and Banking, as seen last week at the 20th WIBC event in Bahrain.”
At present there are a number of global retail banks introducing Islamic banking options including Lloyd’s Bank, HSBC, Standard Chartered and the Islamic Bank of Britain. In Bahrain alone, there are over 26 Islamic banks currently in operation making up a total of $26.2 billion in assets, as of August 2013, according to the Central Bank of Bahrain.
At present, Islamic banking has become the fastest growing segment in the international financial system. Since its inception, Islamic banking has been the main driving force of the global Islamic finance industry, with an estimated asset size of $1.1 trillion in 2011 representing 80.9 percent of Islamic finance assets worldwide and 1 percent of the total banking assets worldwide. Growth is mainly being driven by a fast increasing Muslim youth population, the fast growing halal food industry, lower penetration of Islamic finance products in Muslim dominated nations and government support for new products.
The GCC Islamic banking sector has experienced remarkable growth in the business/ financing activities and significant demand for Shariah-compliant products and services.
The growth of the Islamic banking industry in the region was mainly driven by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Islamic banks in these two countries are generally well capitalized and profitable with high capital adequacy and low NPF ratios. As of September 2012, Islamic banking assets in the GCC and Iran rose by 16.5 percent y-o-y. Growth was led by Qatar (+25.9 percent), followed by Saudi Arabia (+22.0 percent), the UAE (+16.9 percent), Kuwait (+7.8 percent) and Bahrain (+5.5 percent).
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