Britain, Gulf could create Islamic superbanks

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London

Gulf banks could reach out to offer more services into Britain in the coming years, according to one of the UK’s top Islamic financiers. Post-Brexit, the scope for cross-border finance opportunities is sizable, said Stella Cox CBE, Islamic finance government lobbyist and managing director at financial market intermediary DDCAP Group. London has more than 20 international banks operating in Islamic finance – five of which are fully Sharia-compliant. The three major UK Sharia finance banks – Gatehouse Bank, BLME and Al Rayan – all have Middle Eastern shareholders. “In terms of the Islamic banks that are operating in the UK, there will be a natural opportunity to grow services that will appeal to the clients linked to the jurisdictions of their shareholders,” Cox told Arabian Business. How Islamic finance could help pull the UK out of its Brexit and Covid slump “Post-Brexit, I think the UK already has these established partnerships and prospects for collaboration across the Islamic world, and it’ll be interesting to see how those develop along with the Islamic finance market,” she said. The UK is a frontrunner in Islamic finance. Britain issued the West’s first ever sukuk in 2014 and the country’s handful of banks offer a selection of savings accounts and home purchase plans (Islamic mortgages). However, UK-based Sharia compliant banks have struggled to build the mass-market scale required to launch some conventional products, such as current accounts. Joined-up collaboration between the UK and the Gulf could strengthen the offerings of both regions, Cox said. “I think with combined offerings there’s a lot of benefits,” said Cox. “UK sharia complaint banks have been challenged to some extent by the capacity that they have (to be competitive) as they’re all independent banks… in terms of their balance sheets, size and scale, they are smaller than their conventional high street counterparts.” Stella Cox CBE, Islamic finance government lobbyist and managing director at financial market intermediary DDCAP Group fficial ONS figures for 2018/19 show that there are 3,194,791 Muslims living in England.— Arabian Business