Thursday, March 27, 2008

Innovation & Standaradization, Islamic Finance in the U.S., Africa, Malaysia & the U.K.

The focus of the International Islamic Capital Market Forum in Malaysia was how to get different "Shari'ah jurisdictions" to cooperate. The growth in Islamic finance, and particularly growth of GCC and Malaysian organizations into each other's region, has led to significant standardization of Shari'ah standards. The rapid growth of Islamic finance does necessitate some standardization to reduce the costs associated with Islamic financial products over and above conventional products. However, too much standardization in current products, most of which replicate conventional products in a Shari'ah-compliant way, could reduce the degree of innovation in Islamic finance. The Bank Negara Malaysia, the Malaysian central bank announced the establishment of the International Shari'ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA) as a center of knowledge in Ilsamic finance.

USA Today profiles Devon Bank, a community bank in Chicago that offers Islamic finance. Another organization, SASSO, provides training and Islamic financing in the St. Cloud, Minnesota area.

The Islamic financial industry in Africa is growing rapidly as well as in places more commonly associated with Islamic finance like the CGG and Malaysia. Islamic finance accounts for over 15% of the total assest in the Malaysian banking system. The U.K. is quickly emerging as a center of activity in Islamic finance in the West, although the performance so far of Islamic banks have not been great.

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