American banks are missing out on the hot Islamic finance market

Islamic finance is surging across the globe, gobbling up an ever-increasing share of the more than $220 trillion in international assets outstanding. That is, everywhere except in the US and Canada. A combination of regulatory hurdles, a lack of proper rules and standards, and general Islamophobia can be blamed. Another hurdle is the requirement that US banks keep their risk ratios fairly low. In order to be compliant while also maximizing profit, banks usually invest in the huge supply of fixed-income securities such as treasuries and conventional corporate bonds, which are prohibited by Islamic laws. Despite the challenges, both the US and Canada are a natural fit as homes to the bustling and dynamic Islamic finance industry.