ISSUES OF ISLAMIC FINANCE DEVELOPMENT IN EUROPE: THE CASE OF THE UK - Conference ...

 
XIV International Scientific Conference
         Analysis of International Relations 2020. Methods and Models of Regional Development. Summer Edition
                                            Katowice, Poland        23 June 2020

         ISSUES OF ISLAMIC FINANCE DEVELOPMENT IN
                          EUROPE: THE CASE OF THE UK

                                             Ravil Asmyatullin1

                                     1
                                         https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6549-2040
                                                  RUDN University
                     Institute of World Economy and Business, World Economy Department
                                Mikluho-Maklaya str, 6, 117198, Moscow, Russia
                                         E-mail: rav.asmyatullin@gmail.com

     Abstract: Islamic finance is one of the fastest growing industries. The principles of functioning of
     Islamic finance are based on Sharia norms and are aimed at preventing injustice and inequality in
     the process of production and distribution of wealth. Currently there are more than five hundred
     Islamic banks all over the world. Global Islamic financial assets reached $ 2.2 trillion, represented
     in more than 65 countries. This fact indicates the popularization and increase in demand for this
     industry, despite the crisis. Offering new alternative financial instruments, Islamic finance is of
     interest not only in Muslim countries, but also is spreading outside the traditional borders of Islamic
     world. The aim of this article is to identify the features of the development of Islamic finance in the
     European Region. Particular attention is paid to the experience of Great Britain, as a country in
     which Islamic finance has received the most active development among European countries. Great
     Britain is characterized by comprehensive development of the industry, both in terms of economics
     and finance, as well as in terms of legislation and education.

     Key words: Islamic finance, Islamic banking, Islamic finance in Europe, UK
     JEL codes: F65, G15, G20

1. Basic framework of Islamic finance
The concept of Islamic Finance is based on the provisions of the Quran and Sunnah (examples
of the life and actions of the prophet Muhammad). The key principles that distinguish the
Islamic Finance system are the following:
     -      Prohibition on loan interest (Riba). Islam welcomes commercial activity and profit-
            making, and at the same time demands respect for the principle of social justice. The

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XIV International Scientific Conference
          Analysis of International Relations 2020. Methods and Models of Regional Development. Summer Edition
                                             Katowice, Poland        23 June 2020

             margin should be linked to return on investment, labour inputs, expenditures of time
             and knowledge and reflect the real contribution of the lender and borrower. Therefore,
             the principle of sharing profit and loss is central to the Islamic model of finance.
      -      Prohibition of excessive uncertainty and randomness (Gharar), which occurs due to
             the asymmetry of information. Clear cases are financial derivatives (options, futures),
             the absence of the actual price or description of the goods, etc.
      -      Prohibition on gambling (Meysir), i.e. random income that does not arise as a result
             of investment of labor and capital, without creating real wealth.
      -      Haram means a prohibition on the conduct of activities that are prohibited by Sharia:
             trade in alcohol, tobacco, weapons, etc.
      The aim of such prohibitions is to create a financial system functioning on the basis of
the principles of justice, equality, responsibility, morality, objectivity, contributing to real
economic growth and improving the welfare of society.

2. Overview of the Global Islamic finance market
The global Islamic finance market is growing rapidly in terms of both market size and
geographical coverage. The total global assets of the industry in 2018 are estimated at US
$2.591 trillion – over the past ten years, market volumes have tripled. Global assets are
projected to reach $3.8 trillion by 2023.
      42.3% of assets are in GCC countries, followed by ASEAN (28.2%) and MENA
(excluding GCC) 25.1%. Interest in Islamic finance is gradually arising also beyond the
traditional borders of the Muslim world.
      The growing popularity of Islamic finance worldwide is associated with its relative
stability. During the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 Islamic banks have shown their
steadiness: asset growth during this period, as well as in the post-crisis period, was higher than
that of traditional banks (Ahmedov & Bukoftan, 2012). In Muslim-majority countries Islamic
finance industry makes a notable contribution to the economic growth of countries. Studies
show that in the long run, industry development indicators are significantly correlated with real
GDP in Muslim countries (Naz & Gulzar, 2020).
      Outside the Muslim world, Islamic finance is most developed in the UK, Switzerland,
USA, Hong Kong and other countries. In general the global Islamic finance market is moving
closer to the conventional market (Ibrahim & Alam, 2018), retaining however its unique

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XIV International Scientific Conference
        Analysis of International Relations 2020. Methods and Models of Regional Development. Summer Edition
                                           Katowice, Poland        23 June 2020

features. Islamic finance management infrastructure reproduces and corresponds to the existing
world financial order (Rethel, 2011).
      By the Sectoral Composition, in 2018 Islamic banking prevails, occupying more than
71% of the entire industry. 24.2% of the industry is sukuk (Islamic securities).

3. Islamic finance in Europe
The development of Islamic finance is becoming of more relevance and importance also for
Europe. One of the most important factors (already outlined above) is the stability of the Islamic
financial system in times of crisis. Since Islamic principles prohibit loan interest, the crisis
phenomena of the traditional financial system based on the use of loan interest are minimized.
The principles of Islamic finance protect against irresponsible speculative behaviour of market
players, contributing to the prevention of systemic crises (Al Manaseer, 2017). The crisis
affected the perception of Islamic finance in international markets and gave it a greater ethical
component (Fang, 2016).
      The next important factor is the increasing number of Muslims. Only three percent of
Muslims lives in Europe, but the Muslim population shows high birth rates. The share of
Muslims increased from 2% in 1950 to 6% in 2010 (Kettani, 2010). The largest Muslim
population in Europe in 2016 are in France (25.8 million people), Germany (4.95 million), Great
Britain (4.13 million) as well as Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and other countries (www1).
      This also affects the growing demand for Islamic finance services. It should be noted that
Islamic finance services are available and used by any clients regardless of their religious
affiliation.

                    Tab. 1 Western world countries in Islamic Finance Country Index 2019
                                             Country                        Rank
                                                UK                            17
                                               USA                            21
                                            Switzerland                       27
                                              Canada                          33
                                             Australia                        37
                                             Germany                          40
                                              France                          45
                                               Spain                          48
                                   Source: own elaboration based on (www2)

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XIV International Scientific Conference
         Analysis of International Relations 2020. Methods and Models of Regional Development. Summer Edition
                                            Katowice, Poland        23 June 2020

        According to the Islamic Finance Country Index 2019, Great Britain ranks 17th in the
world in terms of the development of Islamic finance, which makes it the first among non-
Muslim majority countries.
        Based on the data of this ranking, Islamic finance is developing in Europe, since these
countries have a fairly well-developed financial system and are considered International and
Regional Financial Centers. That is, Islamic finance can be seen as a financial diversification
tool.
        Moreover, foreign investors from Muslim countries also seek diversification. In this
regard, competition for capital from Muslim countries, especially the Middle Eastern ones, is
increasing.
        In this context, the development of Islamic finance in Europe seems to be a promising
and sought-after area. The Islamic finance industry in the UK is the most developed among
European countries.
        In the current situation, the expansion of economic ties outside the European Union is
especially relevant for Great Britain. In the context of political and economic uncertainty in the
period after Brexit, Islamic finance can be considered as one of the alternative tools to attract
foreign investment in the Kingdom and the development of international trade. Given the close
ties of the UK with many countries of the Middle East and North Africa, wide opportunities
can be opened in cooperation with the GCC countries. Moreover, on the agenda of the GCC
countries there is the diversification of the economy and the formation of new international
financial flows (Shkvarya et al. 2018).
        Successful implementation of Islamic finance in the UK is linked as well with a political
will to develop the financial system of the Kingdom and increase its stability (Aldohni, 2018).
        Nevertheless, the development of the industry is associated with overcoming a number of
obstacles. The key problems of the introduction and development of Islamic finance:
        • Limited development of Islamic finance within the framework of the traditional
           Anglo-Saxon approach to financial regulation. The question is the existence of
           religious norms in the regulation of finance. On the one hand, Islamic finance as an
           independent industry creates additional financial security, and on the other hand,
           require additional (maybe more severe) regulatory and control measures (Kurochkina
           & Us, 2019).
           Accordingly, the introduction of Islamic finance should be accompanied by relevant
           legislative changes. Great Britain has good experience in this matter.

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XIV International Scientific Conference
       Analysis of International Relations 2020. Methods and Models of Regional Development. Summer Edition
                                          Katowice, Poland        23 June 2020

      • Lack of human resources for the Islamic finance industry. This problem is relevant not
         only for Western countries, but also for a number of Muslim ones. The UK, considered
         one of the world's leading educational hubs, is becoming a leader in the field of
         education in Islamic finance and banking.
      • Competition from traditional banks.
      • Lack of a common unified approach to industry surveillance and accounting standards.

4. Methodology and Data
An analysis of the UK banking system and industry trends is based on data from the banks
themselves, as well as reports from the Islamic Financial Services Board, Thomson Reuters,
TheCityUK, S&P.
      To analyze the reforms in the field of legislation, legislative acts affecting the regulation
of the Islamic finance industry were studied, in particular, the main document - the Law on
Finance. To analyze the education field, the educational programs implemented by British
universities and their contents were studied.

5. Results and Discussion
The UK is a leading global financial center. The country is also striving to become an Islamic
financial hub in the Western world. More than 20 banks in the country offer Islamic financial
services, there are five fully Sharia-compliant Islamic banks.

                                          Tab. 2 Islamic Banks in UK
                                    Year of          Origin                 Focus                    Assets
            Bank
                                  foundation                                                    mln GBP (2018)
       Al Rayan Bank                 2004             Qatar              retail bank                 1,965
  The Bank of London and                                            retail and corporate
                                     2006              UK                                            1,273
      The Middle East                                                     banking
                                                                    investment banking
         QIB (UK)                    2007             Qatar                                           622
                                                                         Real estate
      Gatehouse Bank                 2007              UK           wealth management                 436
  Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank             2010             UAE            corporate banking                223
                                     Source: elaborated based on (www3)
   Note: Al Rayan Ban – formerly Islamic Bank of Britain; QIB (UK) is a subsidiary of Qatar Islamic Bank,
                                       formerly European Finance House

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XIV International Scientific Conference
       Analysis of International Relations 2020. Methods and Models of Regional Development. Summer Edition
                                          Katowice, Poland        23 June 2020

      Among the five Islamic banks, two are British, the others are originated from Islamic
countries: Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Al Rayan Ban is the largest Islamic bank in the
UK with more than 90,000 customers.
      Total assets of Islamic banks for four years from 2015 to 2018 increased from 3,108
million to 4,519 million pounds (Fig. 1).
      For four years, the average growth rate of Islamic banks assets amounted to 12.8%.
Meanwhile, Islamic banking still accounts for less than 0.03% of the UK banking sector, but
there is a strong potential for growth. With the exception of Al Rayan Bank, the rest of the
British Islamic banks maintain a traditional conventional banking mindset, which impedes their
more active growth, as this reduces their attractiveness for Sharia-oriented customers (Irfan &
Ahmed, 2019).

                                       Fig. 1 Islamic banks assets in UK

                                  Source: own elaboration based on (www3)

      The analyse of the Islamic finance market structure demonstrates some peculiar features
of the UK market (Fig. 2).
      The real estate industry takes the largest share of the Islamic finance market in the UK.
At the end of 2018, this sector amounted to £ 1.5 billion (39% of the country's Islamic finance
market). Globally, the largest sector is wholesale and retail trade financing, while real estate
and construction have a relatively low share and are characterized by regional concentration.
This can be explained by the fact that the development of Islamic finance in the UK began with
reforms in the real estate sector, as well as with the demand for Islamic mortgages. Moreover,
the introduction of Islamic mortgages did not require large-scale legislative changes.

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XIV International Scientific Conference
       Analysis of International Relations 2020. Methods and Models of Regional Development. Summer Edition
                                          Katowice, Poland        23 June 2020

      Other major Islamic finance sectors in the Kingdom are household financing, financial
and insurance services, and foreign organizations activities. It is worth noting that the share of
real estate is gradually decreasing, which is associated with the development of other sectors,
such as manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail.

                               Fig. 2 Structure of Islamic Finance market in UK

                                                                       other
                                                                        7%

                                                                                    real estate
                                                        other financing of
                                                           households                activities
                                                               24%                     39%

            human health and social work
                     activities        manufacturing
                        2%                 2%
                 professional, scientific         construction
                 and technical activities             3%                                    financial and
                          2%                                         financing to        insurance activities
                                                                    nonresidents                10%
                         wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor      7%
                                 vehicles and motorcycles
                                            4%

                   Source: own elaboration based on https://ifsb.org/psifi_03.php (www4)

      Regarding the Islamic financial instruments, the largest share falls on Murabahah (50%),
Musharakah (34%, mainly Diminishing Musharakah) and Ijarah (9%).
      The development of Islamic finance in the UK starts from the beginning of the 2000s
(Fig. 3).

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XIV International Scientific Conference
       Analysis of International Relations 2020. Methods and Models of Regional Development. Summer Edition
                                          Katowice, Poland        23 June 2020

                  Fig. 3 Key events of Islamic finance development in the United Kingdom

                                            Source: own elaboration

5.1. Islamic Finance Regulation: Legislative Changes
The first Islamic retail products began appearing in the UK in the 1990s. In 2000 a working
group was established to address problems and challenges of Islamic finance industry
development. One of the most significant obstacles is a change in legislation, which is true for
any country seeking to develop the Islamic finance industry. The United Kingdom did not
develop a separate legislation, but took the path of adapting existing laws to ensure the equal
conditions for Islamic financial products, as well as for traditional ones.
      In 2003, the first significant change was made to the Finance Act. It prevented double
taxation in real estate transactions, in particular mortgages. Under the terms of Islamic mortgage
agreements (Ijarah and diminishing Musharakah), in fact, two operations are carried out: the
purchase of a property by a bank, and after that the sale of this asset by a bank. Before the
reforms, each of these operations was taxed on a separate basis, which made Islamic mortgages
an overexpensive tool. Nowadays, Islamic mortgage has already been effectively implemented
in the British financial system, and there are opportunities in the country to expand the offer
also for non-Muslim clients (Tameme & Asutay, 2012).
      In the following years additional measures were introduced to harmonize the tax regime
of other Islamic financial tools with the services of conventional financial institutions.
      In 2004, the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) was established. It’s the first fully Islamic
retail bank in a non-Islamic jurisdiction country. Now it is named Al Rayan Bank. With the
advent of the first Islamic bank, some key problems were detected. The main one was the

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XIV International Scientific Conference
       Analysis of International Relations 2020. Methods and Models of Regional Development. Summer Edition
                                          Katowice, Poland        23 June 2020

definition of a deposit. An Islamic deposit on the basis of a Mudarabah agreement, according
to which the client assumes the risks of capital loss, did not comply with the English law,
according to which the client is guaranteed a refund. To solve this discrepancy, IBB clients
were offered to refuse to protect deposits for religious reasons and choose the conditions for the
return of funds in accordance with the Sharia rules for sharing risk and loss.
      Since 2007, the development of the Sukuk market in the UK began. In 2019 over 72 sukuk
worth more than GBP40 billion are listed on the London Stock Exchange. In 2014, the UK
government was the first among Western countries to issue sovereign sukuk.
      In 2007 the taxation of Islamic securities - sukuk - were clarified, sukuk as alternative
financial investment bonds. Prior to the adoption of these amendments, tax deductibility was
impossible in the distribution of profits that arose in the sale of sukuk. Since sukuk have the
same economic effect, in the UK they are regarded as their conventional counterparts. In 2010,
alternative finance investment bonds were excluded from the definition of the Collective
Investment Schemes and formed a new separate section.
      In 2015, the Islamic Insurance Association of London was established to promote the
development of the takaful industry.
      In 2017, the Bank of England announced the establishment of a Sharia-compliant facility
(SCF), which will give UK Islamic banks the opportunity to place deposits in pounds sterling
with a central bank on an interest-free basis. Thus, Islamic banks get more equal rights along
with traditional banks, which already have reserve accounts. As part of the implementation of
this initiative in 2018 the creation of a subsidiary of the Bank of England Alternative Liquidity
Facility in the form of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) was announced (www5). This SPV is
intended to separate funds corresponding to the Shariah from other interest-based activities of
the Bank of England.
      A general approach to Islamic finance regulation in the UK is known as 'no obstacles, but
no special favors'.

5.2. Human resources training in the field of Islamic finance
The lack of qualified Human resources is one of the important obstacles to the development of
Islamic finance in the world. The successful introduction of Islamic finance in the UK was
possible thanks to a well-developed education system (Masiukiewicz, 2017). In a fairly short
time, the UK has become a global leader in training specialists for Islamic finance and banking

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XIV International Scientific Conference
         Analysis of International Relations 2020. Methods and Models of Regional Development. Summer Edition
                                            Katowice, Poland        23 June 2020

industry. There are wide opportunities in the Kingdom for both obtaining a university degree
and training at short-term courses.
      Over the last six years, the number of educational institutions around the world offering
Islamic finance programs has increased from 420 in 2012 to 688 in 2017. Most of the programs
are short professional training courses. Higher education programs (with academic degree)
accounted for 29% (202 courses).
      The UK is one of the global educational hubs and is also the largest provider of Islamic
finance education. More than 120 educational institutions offer 80 short-term courses and 31
degree programs.
      Based on the analysis of the content of educational programs, it may be concluded that
the primary focus is on the study of Islamic finance mainly from a financial and economic point
of view, giving little attention to the legal aspects of the industry. However, it is worth noting
that in the UK a large number of programs on Islamic law and politics are available.

              Tab. 3 Some universities providing programs in Islamic Finance education in the UK
 Educational institution              Program                                           Degree level
 Durham           University          Islamic Finance                                   MSc
 Business School                      Islamic Finance and Management
 University of Dundee                 Islamic Finance                                   MSc
                                      Islamic Banking and Finance
                                      Islamic Banking, Finance, and
                                      International Business
 Heriot-Watt University               Islamic Banking and Finance
                                                             MSc
 (UK / Dubai)
 London      South    Bank International Business Management MSc
 University                with Islamic Finance
 University of Glarmogan   Islamic Banking and Finance       MSc
                                              Source: own elaboration

      The analysis also shows that basic level of courses prevails at universities in the UK (as
in many other countries of the world). Moreover, studies confirm that even employees already
working in Islamic banks, need to develop and deepen their skills and knowledge (Bahrul Ilmi,
2018).
      Numerous business schools and universities in the UK offer Islamic finance as a module
(as part of the curriculum). The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) and the
Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance (IIBI) offer more specific courses on Islamic
insurance Takaful and Islamic securities Sukuk.

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XIV International Scientific Conference
       Analysis of International Relations 2020. Methods and Models of Regional Development. Summer Edition
                                          Katowice, Poland        23 June 2020

      In general, the UK is ahead of other countries, including a number of Muslim countries,
in the development of Islamic finance education, which will play an important role for the
strategic development of the industry in the Kingdom and consolidate the UK as a leading
Islamic Finance hub in the Western world.

5.3. Islamic FinTech
Digitalization affects many sectors of the economy. Digitalization is also taking place in Islamic
finance. Currently, there are more than 120 Islamic FinTech companies worldwide. Generally,
this trend is at the initial stage of its development.
      The prospects for the development of Islamic FinTech in the UK are promising, as the
country is one of the world leaders in both finance and technology. Since 2018, the UK Islamic
FinTech Panel has been set up, its purpose is to strengthen the position of the United Kingdom,
as well as establish international relations with leading international Islamic FinTech hubs.
      In 2016, the first UK-based Islamic FinTech crowdfunding platform Yielders was
founded. It is directly regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority.
      As well a peer-to-peer financing platform, Beehive, based in Dubai, has been created.
This platform includes an Islamic window, offering financing based on the Murabahah
agreement. Islamic investors are offered only investments approved by the Sharia Council.
      So far, the FinTech trend is only beginning to develop. Given a certain limited size of the
Islamic finance market in the Kingdom, the primary challenge of the Islamic FinTech field is
the search for capital from traditional finance suppliers. However, there are great opportunities
to attract capital from the GCC and Southeast Asia, in particular the UAE, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Bahrain - the world leaders of Islamic FinTech.

6. Conclusions
As one of the world's financial centers, the UK is also considered the center of Islamic finance
in the Western world. In order to strengthen its role and promote the growth of the industry,
legislative amendments are being introduced.
      A feature of the UK is a consistent approach to the implementation of Islamic finance.
Each of the instruments is considered as a subset in the group of certain conventional financial
instruments. Thus, the Islamic finance industry is developing under the same regulatory
standards as the traditional financial industry in the UK. The government does not assume
responsibility for compliance with the Shariah requirements. However, most financial

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XIV International Scientific Conference
           Analysis of International Relations 2020. Methods and Models of Regional Development. Summer Edition
                                              Katowice, Poland        23 June 2020

institutions create Shariah Boards to control the compliance of their financial products with
Islamic finance principles.
       It can be confidently concluded that the development of Islamic finance will be of more
importance and will continue in the post-Brexit period, which will help to establish economic
relations with Muslim countries and attract foreign investment.

Acknowledgments
This paper was supported by the project "Modern Trends in the Development of Islamic
Finance: World Experience and the GCC" (№ 203363-0-000, RUDN-University).

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