Unclear On Islamic Banking

There is a lack of understanding with regards to the Islamic Banking System among Bruneians. This finding was stated in a working paper entitled “The Bruneian Perception towards Islamic Banking System in Brunei” which was delivered yesterday by Azme bin Haji Matali, a lecturer from the Faculty of Shari’ah and Law, UNISSA.

The lecturer made the disclosure during the International Conference on Islamic Finance whereby his study of 650 respondents indicated that 44.3 per cent “hardly understand” or “do not understand” the Islamic Banking System and this can be considered as “worrying as it is related to the Islamic religion”.

He added: “A customer must fully understand the concept” of the system “to ensure that the transaction between the two is correct religiously and accepted by religion.” Despite the Muslim community being the highest percentage in the country (67 per cent), he said, “It does not necessarily mean they fully understand the financing process in Islamic banking,” which is an indicator that there are still doubts and a lack of confidence among the Bruneian community towards the Islamic financial implementation.

“Customers who conduct financial transactions with the Islamic banks is due to their salary being deposited into their account and not because of their financial understanding nor their desire to stay away from the practice of `riba’ (usury),” he continued. “This reality indicates that the Brunei Islam community is not sensitive to the issues of usury.”

Also, results derived from one question posed, showed that among the unsatisfactory issues when dealing with Islamic banks include “Lack of financial advisors in Islamic Banking and Finance”, “Equivalent financing percentage rate with conventional banks”, “Lack of knowledge among banking staff with regards to their own products”, “Often, customers are not greeted with `salam’ compared to conventional banks” and so on.

However, these unsatisfactory aspect ofcustomers towards the Islamic Banking System can be overcome through knowledge-sharing, according to Azme. He suggested that briefings should be conducted for Islamic bank employees to ensure that details given to customers are accurate for more effective service.

Also, different perception has been noted in terms of the increasing products and services offered by Islamic banks and this has led some to think that the Islamic Banking System resembles conventional banks that practice usury. “A very terrible picture,” he conceded. 

source Borneo Bulletin