Noor Islamic Bank’s CEO calls for global body to regulate Islamic finance industry
Dubai: Standardisation of the regulations governing Islamic finance is a must to ensure the globalisation of Islamic finance, according to Hussain Al Qemzi, CEO of Noor Investment Group and CEO of Noor Islamic Bank (Noor), Speaking at a DIFC hosted conference on the future of Islamic finance, jointly organised by Noor and Thomson Reuters, Al Qemzi said the lack of standardisation is holding back the growth of Islamic finance.
Although regional standardisation bodies exist, adherence to their standards varies from country to country and region to region. “It is a real concern that there is no authoritative global body to regulate and promote Islamic finance, AlQemzi said. “Disagreement and different interpretations, over what is Shari’a compliant and what is not, continue to make it difficult to establish the necessary regulations for the industry to develop globally accepted products.
“Some people argue that standardisation is an unrealistic goal, given the fragmented nature of Islamic finance. I do not agree. There is a need for balanced, globally accepted, regulation that does not impede growth, or allow for abuse,” Al Qemzi added.
Industry estimates put the value of the Islamic finance sector at $1.5 trillion, little more than 1 per cent of the overall global financial sector. And, despite impressive annual growth rates of 15 per cent to 20 per cent, AlQemzi said there is no real tangible evidence that Islamic finance is a world force. Even in Muslim countries, conventional finance has a larger market share than Islamic finance. For example in Malaysia, Al Qemzi told delegates, Islamic lending accounts for just 26.6 per cent of overall lending. While in the UAE, Islamic finance accounts for only 12 per cent of the financial sector.
Al Qemzi called for practical measures to be implemented that progressively address impediments to the growth of Islamic finance. “We need to create an enabling environment for cross border connectivity through Islamic finance,” he said. “This will require measures to develop domestic capital markets and should go hand-in-hand with national market reforms, based on common international standards. “Domestic markets should also be strengthened by widening the issuer and investor bases, with more issuances in currencies other than the domestic currency, to attract investors from across the globe. “And there should be greater collaboration and cooperation among, and between national economies in which Islamic finance participates,” Al Qemzi added.
Inovative products, services
Since its launch in 2008, Noor has gained a reputation for offering innovative, client-focused, banking products and services. It continues to lead the retail banking market in providing convenient banking solutions, including the UAE’s first fully operational mobile internet banking experience in the Arabic language.
Noor was also the first Islamic bank to offer an on-line account opening service and the first UAE bank to operate a 24/7 branch. Its insurance arm, Noor Takaful, was the first Takaful operator to offer online insurance services and products.