Trends in Islamic Finance – interview with Dr. Mohamed Goneid
Can you explain the ongoing controversy in the Shariah-compliance of certain sukuk models? Has this slowed down the sukuk growth?
Despite the fact that there is an ongoing effort to regularize the Sukuk market, and since controversy is not proper to a specific country, the growth in Sukuk has been practically unhindered.
How fast is the Islamic finance sector growing currently?
It is difficult to see current growth, however Islamic Banks have grown by 26.7% in 2008 and is expected to grow from about 15 - 20 % throughout this year. The Asian Banker research group also reported thatIslamic institutions grew to nearly $350 billion in assets in 2008, beating the 19.3 per cent growth rate of mainstream banks.
Do you have any estimates for the size of the global industry?
A considerable portion of the industry is privately owned and as a result the estimates range between 150 billion USD to 200 billion USD. This estimation is actually higher if you include Iran.
What trends and challenges would you predict for Islamic Finance in 2010?
Islamic Banking will continue to grow in 2010. There will be challenges faced against regularization vs. diversification and channels saturation vs. new products.
What role do you see Islamic finance playing on a global scale in the next 5 to 10 years?
Islamic Finance will play a major role both globally within the banking industry, and on regional level in the Middle East and South East of Asia.
England and France are currently opening the doors for Islamic finance so we will also see growth in Europe. Newcomers with large Muslim populations like China and India may join the Islamic finance growing trend.
How important is it to drive forward harmonisation and standardization of Islamic finance? Do Islamic banks need to be more innovative when it comes to developing new financial instruments? What are the major limitations of Islamic banking, and how can they be solved?
It is paramount to drive the harmonisation and standardisation of Islamic finance forward otherwise the globalisation effort will be hindered. Islamic Banks have to stay innovative and go for more sophisticated products. The innovation is really driven by boutique Islamic banks in the Middle East whose whole mandate is to be Sharia compliant. With the larger ‘newcomer’ Islamic banks, innovation will be exposed to more sophisticated clientele and the need to be competitive.
What are the problems and challenges facing the Islamic banking system in the west?
The biggest and most important challenge is to be granted the permission to operate and secondly the effort to fine tune the Western Banking environment to accommodate Islamic Banking. Islamic Banking has an added challenge of attracting customers and competing against mainstream conventional banks on the same turf.
What needs to be done to improve the knowledge and understanding of Islamic banking?
In case of Islamic Banking, to be introduced into a mainstream, conventional banking environment, market education will be instrumental in acquiring the required popularity to achieve a reasonable rate of growth. Conferences, publicity campaigns and mass media can play an important role, also marketing campaigns and one-on-one information from Account Managers in banks can be fruitful.
Islamic finance as an emerging form of financial intermediation requires tremendous investment in research and development to promote innovation. How technology can help to grow Islamic Finance?
Technology, like in conventional finance, can play an important role in promoting Islamic Finance. Systems with CRM capabilities, are able to launch new products marketing campaigns. Prospects bases are profiled and information is filtered to drive the marketing effort towards promising prospects. Another important aspect of the system is to have the required tools necessary for the creation of new products in a short time. Some of the Islamic Banks acquire modern systems which are under increasing pressure from the business units and are crying out for technology support. In such cases, it is extremely important to acquire systems which can be successfully implemented in short time span. Systems which can cater for both Islamic finance and Islamic microfinance can be utilised in countries where there are very small businesses and normally Islamic microfinance has proven to be incredibly beneficiary to these business.
What are the strengths of Temenos as regards Islamic financing?
Temenos offers T24 Islamic with best technology today. T24 offers an exhaustive list of Islamic Finance products and moreover it provides a development tool kit to enable users developing new products to launch them in a record short time to market. T24 Islamic Model Bank is delivered from day one and it allows a very short implementation time. Also T24 provides both Islamic Finance and microfinance. On top of all that T24 allows the Bank to streamline their operations, to align their business processes with Islamic proven best practices and to mitigate their business risk.
What is your main role in the Temenos?
My main role in Temenos is to set Islamic banking product strategy and to monitor the application of this strategy given the different Islamic banking environment in the markets that we are tapping.
What would be the best advice that you can give to somebody who decided that Islamic banking was what they wanted to do?
Islamic banking is a dynamic line of business and it calls for a substantial amount of creativity and agility. The big paradox is that Islamic Banking gives the impression of a restricted business by the Islamic Sharia, while in many cases success in this business may be achieved by the non-conformist.