Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 July 2019

GCC to drive surge in Islamic finance

Moody’s predict up to $130 billion in sukuk loans in 2019

Moody's says Islamic finance to grow faster than conventional banking. Bloomberg
Moody's says Islamic finance to grow faster than conventional banking. Bloomberg

The GCC is expected to be one of the key drivers in the expansion of Islamic finance, Moody’s senior officials said on Tuesday, which is expected to expand faster than the conventional banking sector and increase its overall penetration.

Speaking at the investor’s service annual Middle East briefing in London, Nitish Bhojnagarwala, vice president of the Financial Institutions Group at Moody’s, said the growth would be driven predominantly by two factors.

“Governments in these countries have strategic objectives in the growth of this industry, and in the GCC a large share of the population has an inclination towards Islamic banking,” Mr Bhojnagarwala said.

Islamic assets are expected to continue to grow and consolidate, with some institutions transitioning towards the Islamic model.

The expansion is facilitated by the harmonization of the regulatory framework, including in expanding markets like Africa. Regulators in Nigeria, Senegal and Kenya announced Islamic banking laws in 2018. While its outreach is still limited, the region’s huge Muslim community represents an untapped resource that will drive this market’s expansion.

In the UK, Islamic banking also remains a fraction of the overall banking sector but is expanding five times as fast as the traditional market.

Turkey and Indonesia – where Islamic banking is more than two decades old but accounts for less than 5 per cent of total loans – have also recently pushed to grow this markets. The Turkish government established two government sponsored banks, while Indonesia devised a new Islamic finance strategy.

Sukuk issuance is expected to reach $120 - $130 billion dollars in 2019. The GCC and Malaysia are driving the growth of Islamic bonds, which is becoming a global instrument.

Malaysia plays the largest worldwide role in terms of sukuk issuance. In 2018, the country funded around 80 per cent of its fiscal deficit through sukuk issuance – a much larger share than seen elsewhere.

In Saudi Arabia around 15 per cent of the fiscal deficit has been funded by sukuk issuance.

The type of loans is also expanding. Last year Indonesia issued a green sukuk, with the goal of strengthening the global sharia financial market as well as its committing to environmentally friendly green financing.

“We do see a lot of potential in terms of the sukuk market,” Mr Bhojnagarwala concluded.

Islamic banking and finance have been gradually formalised since the late 1960s, in response to the oil wealth and the consequent increase in and demand for Sharia-compliant products.

Central to Islamic banking and finance is an understanding of the importance of risk sharing as part of raising capital and the avoidance of riba (usury) and gharar (risk or uncertainty).

Updated: April 3, 2019 06:09 PM

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