Islamic banking underserves the poor
An article that came out this weekend addressed an interesting point. Do Islamic banks address only a few wealthy Muslims or can they do more to reach poorer Muslims. My personal belief is that the Islamic finance has not yet developed a model for serving poorer Muslims, but that the success of the Grameen Bank at reaching the poor has caught the attention of the industry and halal microfinance will develop over the next few years. Here at the IHI, we are working on a halal microfinance program and there is an Islamic microfinance conference occuring on April 14th at Harvard University's Islamic finance project to try and bridge the gap between the Islamic finance industry and the microfinancing industry. I think this is an area with significant potential which will be a valuable asset for the Islamic banking portfolio. One of the other areas in which Islamic banking should look to expand is providing additional services for middle class Muslims, particularly those in the West.
IIFF discusses role for women in Islamic finance
The International Islamic Finance Forum which opened today in Dubai addressed the role for women in Islamic finance. Addressing the forum was HE Sheikha Lubna Al-Qasimi the UAE Minister of Economy and Chief Executive of Tejari, a Middle Eastern business-to-business online marketplace. The article describes how "It is important for women to take their place in IF not only to broaden the appeal, but also to alleviate a potential bottleneck in the growth of IF due to a general shortage of suitable professionals." While there are cultural barriers to increasing the role of women in Islamic finance, the industry has a need for female professionals to continue growing rapidly and to provide service in banks like the Saudi women-only branches.
Luxembourg jumps into competition as western hub of Islamic finance
The Luxembourg Stock Exchange entered the competition to become the western hub for the Islamic finance industry by reducing the regulatory burden for issuing sukuk. The new regulations will treat sukuk in a similar way they are treated in the U.K. A lawyer working in the industry describes that "It's not exactly the same and it's still considered best to be asset-backed, but they will not apply the same disclosure rules to securities, so you won't have to provide the same detail on the underlying assets."
The Bahrain Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India will hold a seminar on Islamic finance this week.
A forthcoming five year plan will reveal plans by Gulf Finance House to expand into Asia
Dow Jones will begin two new indexes as part of its Islamic Market Indexes tracking Shari'ah compliant stocks on the Dubai Financial Market. The indexes are the Dow Jones DFM Index and the Dow Jones DFM Titans 10 Index.
After reports that EPF wanted two English banks to be strategic partners, Rashid Hussain Bhd, the banking group for which the partners were sought denies knowing of the partners.