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Monday, 10 September 2007

Regionalise Islamic banking, says Affin Islamic Bank CEO

KUALA LUMPUR: To strengthen the country’s position in Islamic finance, Islamic banks in Malaysia should move into markets beyond its shores, Affin Islamic Bank Bhd chief executive officer Kamarul Ariffin Mohd Jamil said. While local Islamic banks had grown by “leap and bounds” over the years, Kamarul said they should focus on regionalising the business. “Malaysia has commendably developed its domestic Islamic market, which has consistently registered double-digit growth. “It has the largest Islamic banking market, largest Islamic capital market and largest Takaful market. There are no governments or regulators that have built an Islamic financial system and infrastructure as comprehensive as Malaysia has,” he said. Kamarul was presenting his views at a seminar themed “Malaysia’s Role in Global Islamic Finance, Leadership, Education and Value Innovation”, held recently in conjunction with ABE-Edward de Bono International, Gold Medal Award ‘The Educator’ 2007. He said Malaysia’s core strength was in retail and wholesale banking as well as in investment banking and capital market. “It is a formula that has been proved in our market, and we have expertise in that. Given the success here, I don’t see why it should not be expanded to other nations,” he said.
Kamarul also said Malaysia should focus on other support areas, such as positioning itself as the preferred base for Islamic organisations and businesses in the region. Nonetheless, he said there were challenges facing Islamic banks in the country. “Size remains an issue in Islamic finance. Even the largest Islamic bank is small compared with the average group of conventional banks, which makes it difficult for Islamic banks to have an impact,” he said. - (10 Sep 07)
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