Islamic Banks’ Role in Serving the Poor Unbanked Population in Pakistan

Sohail Kamran, Muhammad Ayub & Adeel Luqman
Published Online: December 2018

One of the primary objectives of Islamic financial institutions is to enhance public wellbeing by alleviating marketplace inequality and injustice. The poor individuals are typically excluded from the basic financial service, and the resultant exclusion impedes their wellbeing. It puts them at a disadvantage compared to mainstream banking customers and raises issues of various sorts in their lives. The main objective of this paper is to suggest viable propositions to Islamic banks to facilitate poor individuals‘ financial inclusion and welfare. In so doing, the paper, through a literature review, comprehends barriers preventing the poor to own a bank account and the harmful effects of financial exclusion that they encounter in their routine lives. Islamic banks, by dint of their specific nature and philosophy, have a potential to help financial inclusion of economically susceptible population. But, Islamic banks have so far not availed the opportunity of involving the masses at the grassroots level and thus enhancing their outreach by serving the unbanked poor individuals. Based on the understanding developed from the literature survey, we discuss the potential role of Islamic banks in financial inclusion of the poor in Pakistan and elsewhere, which could mitigate sufferings of the poor owing to their financial exclusion. By way of financial inclusion of the poor, Islamic banks will also be fulfilling their corporate social responsibility (CSR), the hallmark of public policies in the context of the World Bank‘s sustainable development goals (SDGs). Finally, the paper provides valuable future research avenues in Islamic banking field.


Islamic banking, Islamic financial institutes, exclusion, Poor unbanked, social inclusion, Pakistan.