Two main types of banking models exist in the banking sector, viz. the conventional [commercial banks] and the Islamic banking patterns. Commercial banking operates based on a pure financial intermediation model. Consequently, the banks borrow from savers and they led to institutional and individual customers. Therefore, they “derive their profit from the difference between the lending and the borrowing rates of interest” (Beck, Demirguc-Kunt, & Merrouche 2010, p.51).
Conventional banks are not allowed to engage in trading activities. Moreover, conventional banks are allowed to hold only a minimal shareholding in different institutions. On the other hand, the Islamic banking system includes deposit-taking financial institutions, which provide banking activities similar to conventional banking. However, their lending and borrowing activities do not include any interests. About liabilities, Islamic banks utilize the services of Wakalah or Mudarabah to mobilize funds. Islamic banks accept “demand deposits, which are in most cases treated as interest-free loans to the financial institution from the bank” (Beck, Demirguc-Kunt, & Merrouche 2010, p.56). Moreover, Islamic banks issue loans to customers on a debt-creating basis. Loans are issued based on the Shariah law, which means that the banks advance funds on a profit-and-loss sharing basis with no interest. Contrary to conventional banks, Islamic banks are allowed to engage in shareholding and trading activities.
Banking in Malaysia has undergone drastic growth since the 19th century. In 1907, the government established the Currency Board while the Central Bank of Malaya was established in 1958. Kwing Yik Banking Corporation was the first domestic bank in Malaysia. The bank was incorporated in 1913. By 1917, Singapore Incorporated Bank had established a number of branches at Muar and Malacca. During the 1920s and 1930s, most businesses in Malaysia had incorporated new indigenous banks. Another major change in the industry relates to the introduction of the Automated Teller Machines [ATMs] in the 1980s. This move signified the emergence of electronic banking. The next transformation relates to the introduction of personal computer banking and telebanking in the 1990s.
Islamic banking is growing at an alarming rate across the world. Haron and Ahmad (2000) posit that the growth of Islamic banking arises from the recognition of its role as an alternative form of banking to interest-based banking. This form of banking is increasingly becoming prominent in Muslim and non-Muslim countries. However, countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia have experienced a high rate of growth in Islamic financial institutions compared to other countries. The first step towards “the establishment of Islamic banking was in 1983 with the establishment of the Government Investment Act and the Islamic Banking Act” (Beck, Demirguc-Kunt, and Merrouche 2010, p.64). The 2008/2009 economic meltdown was a revelation that conventional banking might not be sustainable in the wake of any financial crisis. On the other hand, attention on Islamic banking has increased remarkably.
Despite the significant operational differences between Islamic and conventional banking, the two forms of banking are characterized by minimal significant differences with regard to stability, business orientation, asset quality, and cost-efficiency. Beck, Demirguc-Kunt, and Merrouche (2010) further posit that Islamic banking is more cost-effective compared to conventional banking. The banks’ cost efficiency is high in countries that have a large number of Islamic banks.
In countries where the two forms of banks are available, conventional banking is more cost-effective. The two forms of banking do not have any significant difference with regard to business orientation. Beck, Demirguc-Kunt, and Merrouche (2010) opine that there is “some variation about efficiency and stability of conventional banks across countries with different market shares of Islamic banks” (p. 5). This assertion mainly holds in countries characterized by high market share of Islamic banks. In such countries, conventional banking is more cost-effective. However, “Islamic banking is more stable compared conventional banking” (Rahim & Zakaria 2013, p.133). Islamic banking is based on the principle of non-interest and strict Shariah compliance, which states that all Islamic financial institutions should be guided by the principles of real asset transactions, non-speculation, and profit-sharing basis. These differences make Islamic banks resilient to economic crises such as the 2007 financial meltdown (Ryu, Piao, & Nam, 2012).
Previous studies show that there are three main reasons that explain the stability of Islamic banking compared to conventional banks. First, Islamic banks are characterized by a relatively high level of liquidity because of the few investment avenues by Islamic banks. A study conducted by Hadeel Abu Loghod in 2010 shows that Islamic banks are made attractive by their products such as Musharakah, Mudaraba, Ijarah, and Murabahah (Rahim & Zakaria, 2013).
According to Beck, Demirguc-Kunt, and Merrouche (2010), the mutual risk-sharing characteristic of Islamic banks makes them attractive. Another major element that makes financial banks stable is the equity and financing participation. Therefore, most investors consider Islamic banking less risky; hence, the banks are in a position to maintain a relatively high level of creditworthiness. Moreover, “the stability of Islamic banks is enhanced by the view that the banks are prohibited from engaging in excessive leveraging and speculative activities, which are the main reasons for the 2007-2008 global financial crises” (Rahim & Zakaria 2013, p. 134). Consequently, they do not have any relationship with conventional banks.
The Malaysian banking industry is characterized by both conventional and Islamic banks. This mode of banking is becoming prominent amongst Islamic and non-Islamic customers, which has led to the integration of Islamic products by major banks such as Alliance, HSBC, CIMB, and Maybank. Al-smadi and Almsafir (2013) argue, “Islamic banking is more humanizing than conventional banking” (p. 28).
In the process of conducting a particular study, it is important for the researcher to integrate an effective research design. The research design contributes towards improvement in the validity of a study. This study entails a comparative study between Islamic banks and conventional banks in Malaysia. In conducting this study, the researcher utilized a quantitative research design. This research design will allow the researcher to minimize the volume of data collected. Moreover, effective data collection is paramount in improving the credibility of a particular study. Bryman and Bell (2007) emphasize that the quality of data collected determines the reliability and relevance of a study to the target stakeholders.
The researcher utilized secondary methods of data collection, which was achieved by using audited reports and studies from credible sources such as institutions such as banks and the Malaysian Central Bank. Secondary data was also collected from online sources. The decision to use secondary methods of data collection was informed by the view that secondary methods are cost-effective and efficient. Moreover, secondary methods of data collection do not require much personnel and time to execute compared to field studies.
The data collected was quantitative in nature.
|Islamic Banks in Malaysia 2007-2011 |
Amount in $
|Total deposits||$ 200,545, 342||$300,434,879||$320,774,876||$359,762,098||$387,657,873|
|Total liabilities||$309,432,245, 455||$338,847,642,573||$358,857,346,734||$454,345,756||$509,746,897,632|
|Total Assets||$665,873,244,645||$756,762,336,754||$ |
|Total Equity||$ 100,834,984, 454||$138,232,652,713||$159,982,746,564||$165,823,753,653||$234,983,765,563|
|Net income||$32,477,388,734||$34,983,874,564||$33,874,098,764||$36,643,763,543||$39,883,874, 642|
|Total loans||$54,987,895,126||$56,872,643,432||$ 57,765,645,986||$65,987,543,098||$73,874,833, 276|
|Total sales||$2004,764,760,986||$231,876,976,342||$259,984,867,934||$300,873,653,763||$ 329,983,645,432|
|Total expenses||$89,487,987,323||$92,983,023,765||$ 100,943,765,123||$123,874,923,654||$138, 462,732, 874|
Table 1: Islamic Banks in Malaysia 2007-2011. Source: (Bank Negara Malaysia, 2013).
|Conventional Banks in Malaysia 2007-2011|
Table 2: Conventional Banks in Malaysia 2007-2011. Source: (Bank Negara Malaysia, 2012).
The researcher selected quantitative data in order to predict the trend quantitatively in the performance of conventional and Islamic banks in the country. Quantitative data provided the researcher with an opportunity to collect precise, statistical, and numerical data. Quantitative research design enables researchers to investigate casual relationships and predict future results. The researcher collected different types of market data. Some of the data collected relate to the banks’ financial performance. Examples of data collected include the banks’ total deposits, total liabilities, total assets, total equity, total loans, total sales, net income, and total expenses. This data enabled the researcher to assess the trend in the performance of conventional and Islamic banks. The chart above illustrates the trend in the financial performance between Islamic and conventional banks. The data does not belong to a specific financial institution, but it represents the respective industry average.
The researcher also collected data on the average annual interbank rate between conventional and Islamic banks. The data collected ranged from 2007 to 2011 as illustrated in the figure 3 below.
Conventional and Islamic interbank rate
Source: (Bank Negara Malaysia, 2013). Table 3: interbank exchange rates.
In addition to the above data, this study also sought to determine the degree of risk between conventional and Islamic banks in Malaysia. This goal was achieved by using the report on risk indicators for the Malaysian banking industry provided by Bank Negara Malaysia. Some of the major risk indicators include the Risk-Weighted Capital Ratio (RWCR), Rate of Return (ROR), Core Capital Ratio (CCR), and the Non-Performing Loans Ratio (NPLR). The chart below illustrates the mean and standard deviation with regard to the conventional and Islamic banks, ROR, RWCR, NPLR, and RWCR. The data relates to the period ranging from 2007 to 2011.
|Mean [%]||Standard deviation [%]|
Table 3. Source: Bank Negara Malaysia.
The chart below illustrates a summary of the average level of liquidity between conventional and Islamic banks.
|Figures in %|
The researcher also collected data with regard to the loan-to-deposit ratio between the two banks as illustrated in the chart below.
|Figures in %|
|Islamic banks||15. 4||16.75||19.23||21.34||22.47|
Effective data analysis is paramount in improving the relevance of a particular study to the target stakeholders. Data analysis enables the stakeholders to understand a particular study. In a bid to compare the performance of Islamic and conventional banks, the researcher calculated different financial ratios using the information in the data collection section. Below is an analysis of the data. Moreover, the researcher interpreted the trend with regard to the bank’s interbank exchange rate. The figure below shows that conventional banks have a relatively high interbank exchange rate compared to conventional banks.
From figure 1 above, the low interbank exchange rate makes Islamic banks more attractive compared to conventional banks. Below is an illustration of the profitability ratios with regard to Islamic banks.
|Return on Assets||4%||5%||4%||4%||2.89%|
|Return on Equity||17.35%||19.25%||16.5%||16.1%||13.7%|
|GP margin||45 %||52%||57%||60%||69%|
|Return on Assets||2.47%||3.09%||3.43%||3.08%||2.89%|
|Return on Equity||32.2%||25.3%||21.2%||22.1%||21.3%|
Figure 2 above shows that Islamic banks have a relatively high return on assets compared to conventional banks. However, the rate of return on investment has been fluctuating from 2007 to 2011. A high rate of return on assets shows that the Islamic banks in Malaysia are increasingly becoming effective in utilizing their assets. Therefore, the banks have become very efficient with regard to management of their asset base. Islamic banks in Malaysia are guided by the principles of Musharakah and Mudarabah. Mudarabah refers to the concept of profit-sharing, which means that the investors provide funds to the Islamic banks. These funds are effectively managed by the bank managers. On the other hand, the concept of Musharakah refers to the loss and profit-sharing concept between the providers of funds and the bank.
The other principle that has contributed towards a high rate of return on assets amongst Islamic banks in Malaysia relates to the principle of ‘Ijara’. This principle refers to the capital leasing concept amongst Islamic banks. Islamic banking provides Islamic banks with an opportunity to charge rentals rather than interest. The principles of Islamic banking have made Islamic banks in the country to be very effective in managing their asset bases.
Figure 3 below shows a comparison of the rate of return on equity between the conventional and Islamic banks.
Return on equity is calculated by dividing the net profit after tax by the total asset. This ratio is used in determining the return of an organization’s total capital. From the above chart, it is evident that Islamic banks have a relatively high rate of return on equity compared to conventional banks. The high ROE shows that Islamic banks are efficient in generating income with regard to new investments compared to conventional banks. Both the conventional and Islamic banks had a relatively high rate of return on equity before the 2007 global economic recession. The return on equity has been fluctuating over the past five years as illustrated by figure 2 above. However, the rate of decline in the banks’ ROE has been relatively high amongst conventional banks as compared to Islamic banks. The high rate of ROE amongst the conventional banks can be explained by the banks’ effectiveness in ensuring efficient and sustainable use of assets. Moreover, conventional banks are very effective in leveraging their assets. According to a report released by Negara, conventional banks in Malaysia may experience a significant decline in their return on equity because of growth in shadow banking.
About gross profit margin, the conventional banks have a higher GP margin compared to conventional banks as shown in figure 3 below.
The profit margin is calculated by dividing the profit before corporate tax by the total operating income. The ratio is used in determining the effectiveness of an organization in retaining earnings. Consequently, the ratio is very effective in an organization’s effort to determine its effectiveness in controlling pricing and the cost of its operation. Figure 3 above shows that Islamic banks have a relatively high-profit margin compared to conventional banks. This aspect means that Islamic banks “are very effective in controlling the cost of their banking services” (Rahim & Zakaria 2013, p.136). Moreover, the high-profit margin levels are an indicator of the Islamic banks’ effectiveness in avoiding excessive risks. Both the Islamic banks and conventional banks in Malaysia have experienced an increment in the their gross profit margin as illustrated by the graph in figure 3. Similarly, the Islamic banks have a higher operating profit compared to conventional banks as illustrated in figure 5 below.
From the data collected, it is evident that Islamic banks have a relatively high level of liquidity as compared to commercial banks. Figure 7 below shows the trend in the level of liquidity between Islamic and conventional banks during the period ranging from 2007 to 2011. From the chart, the level of liquidity between the two banks has been increasing steadily despite the effects of the 2007/2008 global financial crisis. The average rate of liquidity varied between 14% and 18% for conventional banks while that of Islamic banks ranged between 15% and 23%. As a result of the high level of liquidity, the Islamic banks in Malaysia were in a position to cope with the recession more effectively compared to the conventional banks.
With regard to loans and deposits, it is evident that Islamic banks have a relatively low loan to deposits ratio. This ratio is used to illustrate the level of liquidity in a particular institution. A high loan to deposit ratio shows that an organization might not be in a position to cater to unforeseen financial requirements in the future. On the other hand, if the loan to deposit ratio is too low,it signifies that the bank is not utilizing its assets to generate higher earnings. From the study, it is evident that the Islamic banks have been in a position to maintain a moderate loan-to-deposits ratio. This aspect explains why the Islamic banks in Malaysia were in a position to cope with the recent financial crisis. The banks were not forced to seek bail from the Malaysian Central Bank.
Banks are faced with different sources of risk in the course of their operation. This aspect makes them vulnerable to failures. The degree of risk in a particular institution is an indicator of the degree of uncertainty. The chart below illustrates a summary of the major risk indicators between conventional and Islamic banks in Malaysia.
|Bank system||Mean [%]||Standard deviation [%]|
Figure 7 above shows that conventional banks are riskier as compared to Islamic banks. During the period ranging between 2007 to 2011, Islamic banks had a RWCR of 15.6% compared to 12.8% in Islamic banks. A high rate of RWCR shows that an organization is less risky while a low rate of RWCR shows that an organization is riskier. The ROR and CCR rates are relatively high in Islamic banks as compared to conventional banks. On the other hand, Islamic banks had a relatively low NPLR compared to conventional banks.
In order to determine the degree of significance with regard to the risk indicators between Islamic and conventional banks, the Bank of Negara conducted the F and T-tests and the P-value. The data obtained is illustrated in the table below.
From the table above, it is evident that the difference between the RWCR between Islamic and conventional banks is statistically significant as evidenced by the high t-value [-15.73]. On the other hand, the p-value between the two banks is 0.00. The RWCR is calculated by “dividing an organization’s total operating capital base by the total value of the risk-weighted assets and the RWCR is used in determining the effectiveness of a financial institution such as bank in utilizing its capital and risk-weighted assets” (Ryu, Piao & Nam, 2012, p.50). Consequently, an organization is in a position to determine the degree of risk faced. Most analysts consider “RWCR to be the best variable in determining the degree of risk in financial institutions” (Ryu, Piao & Nam, 2012, p.50). Conventional banks that have adopted the concept of Islamic banking should ensure that their RWCR is at a minimum of 8%.
Table 8 shows that the Islamic and conventional banks have a varying rate of CCR. The Islamic banks’ average CCR is 10.5% while that of the commercial banks is 12.8%. Similarly, table 11 shows a significant difference with regard to the bank’s t and p values. The t-value between the two banks is -14.27 while the p-value is 0.00. The Islamic banks have a relatively high CCR as compared to conventional banks. Moreover, the t-value shows that the difference between the two banks with regard to the CCR is statistically significant.
From table 11, it is evident that the NPLRs for conventional bank is higher than that of Islamic banks. The NPLRs for conventional banks are 4.7% while that of Islamic banks is 4.1%. Furthermore, the difference between the two banking systems’ NPLRs is statistically significant as illustrated by the t-value [2.02] and the p-value [0.02]. Consequently, one can conclude that the two banks have a significant difference with regard to NPL rates. The NPL rate for Islamic banks is relatively low compared to that of conventional banks. This aspect means that Islamic “banks have a better performance as compared to conventional banks” (Rahim & Zakaria, 2013, p.136). The performance of Islamic banks is also evidenced by the ROR. Table 9 shows that the two banks are characterized by a statistically significant ROR. The average ROR for Islamic banks is 4.8% while that of conventional banks is 2.7%. Moreover, the difference between the two banks’ ROR is statistically significant as illustrated by the t-value and the p-value. The t-value is -30.86 while the p-value is 0.00.
Considering the view that the p-value between the two banking systems is below 0.025, one can conclude that the Islamic banking system in Malaysia is less risky compared to the conventional banking system. Moreover, the likelihood of high levels of profitability in Islamic banks is high compared to conventional banks.
From the data analysis section above, a number of findings can be deduced.
- Islamic banks are more effective in utilizing their assets to generate revenue compared to conventional banks. This aspect is illustrated by the high rate of return on assets between the two banks.
- The high ROE amongst Islamic banks shows that banks are efficient in generating income with regard to new investments as compared to conventional banks. Consequently, the banks are in a position to increase their level of profitability.
- The study also indicates, “Islamic banks in Malaysia have a relatively high level of stability compared to conventional banks” (Rahim & Zakaria, 2013, p.148). This assertion is evidenced by the high liquidity ratios in Islamic banks as compared to conventional banks. The banks’ liquidity is also illustrated by the loans-to-deposits ratios between the two banks.
- Liquidity plays a critical role in enhancing the stability of a particular financial institution. Lack of liquidity can lead to failure of a financial institution. This assertion explains why Islamic banks were not adversely affected by the global financial crisis as compared to conventional banks.
- Islamic banks have a higher level of profitability compared to conventional banks. This aspect shows that Islamic banks in Malaysia are very effective in generating returns. Moreover, the high level of profitability can be explained by the view that the Islamic banks do not speculate and hence they avoid risks.
- The study also shows that Islamic banks are very effective in utilizing their assets. On average, the Islamic banks had a high rate of return compared to conventional banks.
- The high level of profitability amongst Islamic banks also shows their effective and efficient management and operational performance. Consequently, they can generate higher returns compared to conventional banks.
- The degree of risk amongst conventional and Islamic banks in the country is also illustrated by the various risk indicators. From the analysis, it is evident that conventional banks have a higher degree of risk compared to Islamic banks.
The study shows that Islamic banks have over the past few years emerged as an emerging alternative form of banking to conventional banking in Malaysia. Despite the view that conventional banking is relatively new, a large number of muslim and non-muslim citizens in Malaysia are embracing the concept of conventional banking. The growth of Islamic banks in the country can be explained by the view that they have a more ‘human’ outlook as compared to conventional banks. The banks are guided by the principles of Quran, which makes them very attractive. For example, Islamic banks do not charge interest. However, they operate on the basis of profit-loss sharing. These features have made investors develop the perception that Islamic banks are more profitable and less risky. Moreover, management prudence has contributed to the growth of Islamic banking.
Islamic banks do not engage in speculative activities. Consequently, they have a relatively high level of stability compared to conventional banks, which is well illustrated by the view that the banks were not adversely affected by the 2007/2008 global financial crisis. On the other hand, the conventional banks were adversely affected because of their financial intermediation role. The trend in the growth of Islamic banks in Malaysia shows that there is a high probability of Islamic banks replacing conventional banks in the long term. However, these findings cannot be generalized for all countries. Consequently, other studies need to be conducted on the trend of Islamic and conventional banking systems in other countries.
Al-smadi, A., & Almsafir, M. (2013). Islamic banking versus conventional banking during the global financial crisis: Malaysia as a case. Journal of Islamic and Human Advanced Research, 3(1), 27-40.
Bank Negara Malaysia. (2013). Central Bank of Malaysia. Web.
Beck, T., Demirguc-Kunt, A., & Merrouche, O. (2010). Islamic versus conventional banking; business model, efficiency and stability. New York, NY: The World Bank.
Bryman, A., & Bell, E. (2007). Business research methods. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Rahim, S., & Zakaria, R. (2013). Comparison between Islamic and conventional banks in Malaysia. Journal of Islamic Economics, Banking, and Finance, 9(3), 130-149.
Ryu, K., Piao, S., & Nam, D. (2012). A comparative study between the Islamic and conventional banking systems and its implications. Journal of Business Administration, 2(5), 48-54.