Why Australia Is Still Lagging on Financial Inclusion?

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Despite a significant increase in the Muslim population in Australia, financial inclusion remains a challenge.

Financial inclusion has been a hot topic in recent years in Australia. Several initiatives have been launched to help people access essential banking services and products. However, it seems that there is still a long way to go in terms of genuinely closing the gap.

The 2021 Australian Census revealed a 34.6 per cent increase in Australia’s Muslim population, making Islam the second-largest religion in the country.

One group that continues to face challenges when it comes to financial inclusion is Australian Muslims. This is because traditional banks and financial institutions often do not offer products and services that are Sharia-compliant. As a result, many Muslims opt to hold onto their savings in cash.

To address this issue, several Islamic banks have been established in Australia. However, according to Muzzammil Dhedhy, the Chief Operating Officer of Hejaz Financial Services, there is still a long way to go in genuinely meeting Muslims’ needs.

“There’s still a big gap in the market for Islamic banking products and services,” he says. “As much as 36% of Australian Muslims opt to hold onto savings in cash due to the lack of Sharia-compliant products and services.”

Dhedhy argues that traditional banks are not doing enough to accommodate the beliefs of Muslims. He believes that more needs to be done to educate people about Islamic banking and its benefits.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about Islamic banking,” he says. “People must be better informed about what it is and how it works. Once they understand that, I think there will be more uptake of these products and services.”

There is still a long way to go regarding financial inclusion in Australia. However, with the right initiatives and education, it is possible to close the gap and ensure everyone has access to the needed services.

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