LONDON: The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) has launched a series of numerical studies of Islamic finance to help policy makers develop the industry, the Jeddah-based body said.
"We felt that the industry is lacking solid numbers that can be backed up by empirical, bottom-up data," said Khaled Al-Aboodi, chief executive of the ICD.
"This affects the credibility of the industry and constrains intelligent decision-making when it comes to assessing the potential of this industry."
The ICD supports the economic growth of its 51 member countries by financing private sector projects that follow Islamic principles. It is collaborating with Thomson Reuters to produce the finance studies, known as the Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI).
Islamic finance has been expanding faster than conventional finance in regions such as the Gulf and southeast Asia; according to the UK Islamic Finance Secretariat, a British lobby group, the industry’s global assets rose to US$1.46 trillion in 2012 from US$1.22 trillion in 2011.
But analysis of the industry has often become narrowly fixated on measures such as asset growth, said Aboodi. So the IFDI will track five areas of industry development, which can be broken down by country: social responsibility, quantitative development, governance, knowledge and awareness.
"Detailed empirical research and analysis is the only way to evaluate the impact of the industry on the wider society, and convince non-Muslim stakeholders of its value proposition," Aboodi said.
In its first set of findings, the IFDI focused on Islamic finance education around the globe, identifying 420 institutions offering industry courses and 113 universities with dedicated degrees.
Britain is at the top of the list with 60 institutions offering Islamic finance courses and 22 universities with similar degrees. Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan come next.
A total of 655 research papers were issued globally on Islamic finance in the last three years, of which 354 were peer-reviewed, according to the IFDI. Malaysia published 169 papers in the period and Britain and the United States published a combined 184.
A future IFDI study of governance in Islamic finance will measure industry-specific regulations, the number of scholars and the board memberships they hold, as well as information disclosure.-- Reuters