Prospects of Islamic Finance in Australia
The geographical situation of Australia places the country as an important Islamic Finance center in Asia despite having a small Islamic population. For example, its closest neighbor, Indonesia, is a home for the most Muslims with over 207 million, with a further 40 million in the south East Asia part.
In the last decades, the Islamic finance situation in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei has increased significantly. They achieved such success through Sukuk issuances and consumer finance, among other products. Unlike its neighbors and despite its outstanding performance in fund management, Australia is at its baby steps to the world of Islamic finance. The country still offers minimal services in its Islamic finance operations.
Thankfully, Australia has sophisticated, educated, and outward-looking investors, with its significantly important role in global financial markets. The country acquires good financial management skills, and it has the potential for export and application of those skills to the Islamic Finance sector.
Financial experts in Australia see Islamic finance as a potential opportunity for the financial services sector. Australian bankers have taken a keen interest in the growing awareness and the development of Islamic finance in Australia.
Australian Government predicts a promising opportunity for the Sukuk issuance being encouraged by the Indonesian Government’s recent successful Sukuk production. The Australian financial markets see a great chance at the retail level that allows serving over 340,000 Muslims.
Opportunities for Islamic Banking
So far, Australia does not have a fully-fledged Islamic bank. And none of the conventional banks offers a separate Islamic banking window or subsidiary to carry out Islamic banking operations.
However, in response to the growing demand of local Muslims, establishing Islamic banks in Australia has now become more urgent. According to John Hewson, former Liberal Party leader and Global DC chairman predict:
“Australia is likely to have at least one Islamic bank within five years if regulatory hurdles could be overcome. … I believe strongly that not only will we see one or more Islamic banks in Australia, but I think we could emerge as the dominant Islamic financial center in the Asia Pacific region. … the time is right to attract a foreign Islamic bank to Australia or to turn local Islamic banking co-operative, the Muslim Community Co-operative (Australia), into a bank.”
Hopefully, Australia becomes one of the most active Islamic finance markets in the Asia-Pacific region. It can export its financial market experiences and knowledge to Islamic finance.
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