07/02/2014 10:09 AST

Islamic Bank of Britain plc (IBB) has revealed findings from the first national survey to look into British consumers’ understanding of, and attitudes towards, Islamic finance. The research provides insight into how British consumers, both Muslim and non-Muslim, are using Islamic finance products currently, and their inclination to use them in the future.

The survey was conducted by independent research company, 2Europe, on behalf of Islamic Bank of Britain, in August 2013 through telephone interviews. 300 British Muslim and non-Muslim consumers across the UK were questioned: a third of all respondents (i.e. 100) were non-Muslim and a third of all respondents were a combination of Muslim and non-Muslim customers of IBB.

The findings are revealed as IBB also celebrates offering market-leading savings profit rates to UK consumers for over a year. Since December 2012, at least one of IBB’s savings accounts has been consistently amongst the top three in the UK, often top of the table. The Bank estimates that for the period 1st December 2012 – 1st December 2013, 87 per cent of applications for its Fixed Term Deposit Accounts were from non-Muslim customers.

This support for Islamic finance amongst both Muslim and non-Muslim consumers is reflected in the survey findings, which reveal that:

- 66 per cent of those surveyed felt that Shari’ah finance is appropriate in a modern western society, such as the UK.

- 65 per cent understood that the way Islamic banking works is different to the way conventional banking works.

60 per cent agreed that Shari’ah finance is relevant to all faiths (N.B. within this figure there was no significant difference in attitudes by individuals of different faiths with the majority of non-Muslims surveyed – 57 per cent – agreeing that Islamic finance is relevant to UK consumers of all faiths).

57 per cent knew that Shari’ah finance is a system in which the Islamic banks pay profits rather than interest on savings products, and charges rent not interest on their home finance products.

58 per cent considered Islamic finance to be an ethical system of finance and one which considers the impact of its activities on society.

53 per cent understood that Shari’ah finance is based on ethical principles that are derived from trade, entrepreneurship and risk-sharing.

81 per cent of IBB’s customers are likely to use Shari’ah compliant finance again; the results being the same for Muslim and non-Muslim customers.

A specific focus on the 200 Muslim customers and prospective customers surveyed showed that:

36 per cent of Muslims currently use Shari’ah compliant finance, of which 9 per cent use it exclusively.

A further 45 per cent of Muslims, who don’t currently use Shari’ah compliant finance, are very likely to consider doing so in the future.

The survey shows that there is strong potential for further growth of Islamic finance within the Muslim market and IBB estimates that there are about a million UK Muslims adults with a need for its savings and home finance products, who are also inclined towards Shari’ah compliant finance. With approximately 50,000 current customers, the Bank feels there is plenty of capacity for growth amongst this core segment.

Non-Muslims are equally as loyal to IBB and Shari’ah finance once they have become customers and this suggests even broader growth potential for the bank across the general UK banking market.

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