Islamic financing seen promising
Kuala Lumpur-based World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) sees huge opportunities for Islamic finance in the Philippines as an option to conventional financial services.
WIEF, a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide a world-class business platform showcasing business opportunities in the Muslim world, is likewise upbeat on Muslim businesses in the years ahead.
The market for halal goods and services is expanding exponentially year-on-year, Tun Musa Hitam, WIEF Foundation chair, said in an e-mail interview with the Inquirer.
Muslims currently make up a majority of the population in 49 countries around the world, with the global Muslim population in 2017 estimated at 1.7 billion and projected to grow to 2.2 billion in 2030, the WIEF chief noted.
“At the back of this development, the halal label has grown beyond its religious underpinnings towards gradually becoming a universal symbol of quality and trust,” Hitam said.
Today, the global halal market is estimated to be worth $2.3 trillion, encompassing a broad range of goods and services—from cosmetics and health product to logistics, marketing and financing.
“The business of the WIEF is business, that is why we stress on the importance of connecting economies around the world, whereby one of our focus is to connect Islamic and non-Islamic economies,” Hitam said.
Though predominantly a Christian nation, the Philippines has Muslims comprising about 5 percent of its population.
“The Philippines is a market with an Islamic finance ecosystem still in its infancy. The relative novelty of the market, and yet to be realized resulting demand, represents a significant area of opportunity for current and future Filipino players in this industry not only domestically but regionally as well,” Hitam said.
The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which the Philippines is part of, is home to more than 60 percent of the world’s Muslim population.
“The region is blessed with a good mix of economies that varies in terms of size, stages of development and economic structure. Exploring Islamic finance principles and facilities within Asean would bring significant returns particularly when it comes to engaging and activating the lower income community toward contributing to the economy,” Hitam said.
“To be clear, this massive area of opportunity also means there is still much room to grow for Islamic finance and all of its related services in the Philippines.”
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