Perception issues hinder growth of Islamic banking

02 November 2014

Banks need to improve promotion of shariah-compliant products

Islamic banks in the Gulf need to do more to convince customers that they fully adhere to sharia law if they want to win greater market share, says Ashruff Jamall, partner, global Islamic finance leader at consultancy firm PwC.

New research compiled by PwC finds that there remains a lack of faith in the Islamic banking sector, with potential customers not always convinced that the banking products being offered comply with Islamic requirements.

“There is a message for them [the banks] to reinforce their values and proposition to customers to give them comfort that they are complying with sharia law,” Jamall told MEED at the sidelines of the World Islamic Economic Forum in Dubai on 30 October.

“It is a perception issue,” he added.

PWC’s report recommends a “much broader and deeper” process of educating potential customers about their sharia-compliant product range to dispel distrust and attract more customers.

Islamic banks also need to look beyond their home markets to increase their global market share. “They need to do a lot more in terms of growing their global footprints,” Jamall says.

Some GCC banks are already expanding, with Dubai Islamic Bank securing a stake in Indonesian bank, PT Bank Panin Syariah, the Islamic banking arm of PT Bank Panin, earlier this year. The Dubai-based bank has also expanded into Kenya.

The PwC research suggests Islamic banks should consider increasing investment in staff training, as well improving service levels so that they match those on offer in the conventional banking sector.

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