Singapore’s Islamic finance industry hit by setback

News that Islamic Bank of Asia, a subsidiary of Singapore’s banking major DBS, will be closing down left the Islamic finance community in the city state baffled. The institution was founded just eight years ago by DBS to tap the Islamic finance potential in Southeast Asia and beyond – with $500mn of paid-up capital shared between DBS and prominent Gulf investors. However, DBS announced in a statement to the Singapore stock exchange on September 14 that IB Asia “will be gradually wound down as it was unable to achieve economies of scale.” The wind-down will likely take two to three years. The apparent failure of IB Asia has been partly attributed to Singapore’s lacklustre regulatory framework for Islamic finance and the absence of a larger local client base.