Britain is demanding its banks to introduce services compliant with the Islamic law in a bid to make London the major western player in an international Islamic finance sector expected to be worth $2.6 trillion by 2017.
The objective is putting up a challenge to Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, which are currently two key hubs of Islamic banking in a bid to boost London’s status in the world of financial services.
"We want to be the leading (Islamic) finance sector outside of the Muslim world," deputy mayor of London Edward Lister said in a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
Britain established its Islamic finance task force in March with the participation of several ministers and banking industry heavyweights as well as top executives from Gatehouse Bank and Oakstone Merchant Bank Ltd.
The move, aimed at facilitating Islamic financial business, was a prelude to London’s hosting of the World Islamic Economic Forum in October.
"The task force has just started and its aim is to make it easier for banks in London to have Islamic products, which is still quite a new concept to any of them," Lister said.
There are currently 22 financial institutions active in Britain, including five fully sharia-compliant banks.