Mr. Nadim Kyriakos-Saad, Manuel Vasquez, Chady El Khoury, and Arz El Murr
The money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF) risks associated with conventional finance are generally well identified and understood by the relevant national authorities. There is, however, no common understanding of ML/TF risks associated with Islamic finance. Some are likely to be the same as in conventional finance, but there may also be different risks. This is notably due to: (i) the complexity of some Islamic finance products; and (ii) the nature of the relationship between the institutions and their clients. The limited capacity and experience in the supervision of Islamic finance, especially in jurisdictions that face higher ML/TF risk factors represents an additional vulnerability. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards are implemented without any form of tailoring to the specificities of Islamic finance. The FATF, the Islamic finance standard-setters, and the national regulators should seek a greater understanding of the specific ML/TF risks that may arise in Islamic finance and develop an appropriate response.
Raja Almarzoqi, Mr. Sami Ben Naceur, and Alessandro Scopelliti
The paper analyzes the relationship between bank competition and stability, with a specific focus on the Middle East and North Africa. Price competition has a positive effect on bank liquidity, as it induces self-discipline incentives on banks for the choice of bank funding sources and for the holding of liquid assets. On the other hand, price competition may have a potentially negative impact on bank solvency and on the credit quality of the loan portfolio. More competitive banks may be less solvent if the potential increase in the equity base—due to capital adjustments—is not large enough to compensate for the reduction in bank profitability. Also, banks subject to stronger competitive pressures may have a higher rate of nonperforming loans, if the increase in the risk-taking incentives from the lender’s side overcomes the decrease in the credit risk from the borrower’s side. In both cases, country-specific policies for market entry conditions—and for bank regulation and supervision—may significantly affect the sign and the size of the relationship. The paper suggests policy reforms designed to improve market contestability and to increase the quality and independence of prudential supervision.
Consumer protection and financial literacy are essential pillars of a well functioning and stable financial system. As the global financial crisis demonstrated, inadequate attention to consumer protection and financial literacy can lead to financial instability. Though Shari’ah principles provide a strong foundation for consumer protection, the principles alone cannot provide adequate protection because not all providers are guided by ethical precepts and the practices have deviated from the principles. To safeguard the stability of the Islamic finance industry, consumer protection frameworks that cater to the specifics of Islamic financial products should be an integral part of regulatory frameworks.