Hardly a month goes by without an announcement is made in London about a new financial product that is compatible with the Islamic Shari’a [Islamic law]. This development reflects concerted efforts by British decision makers, including politicians and influential economists, to render London the world capital of Islamic banking industry.
To serve an Islamic community numbered more than 2 million, a new insurance company [called salam hallal] was also launched in July with a capital of 60 million pounds ($120 million] contributed by companies and individuals from the Gulf countries.
In August 11, a new “Master Card” was also launched to conform to Islamic law. [Essentially, it is a prepaid debit card limiting the user to a ceiling determined by the prepayment to the card issuer to avoid running expenditures by the card holder that the bank would resort to charging interest. In fact, it is no different than similar debit cards in US banks available to anyone who wishes to avoid running charges they cannot afford.]
Finally, most of the major banks in the U.K., such as HSBC and Lloyds offer financial services compatible with the Islamic shari’a.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, August 22, 2008