Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 117, Issue 3, pp 601-613

First online:

Halal Certification for Financial Products: A Transaction Cost Perspective

  • Raphie HayatAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, VU University Amsterdam Email author 
  • , Frank Den ButterAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, VU University Amsterdam
  • , Udo KockAffiliated withInternational Monetary Fund

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We argue that although halal certification could potentially reduce the high transaction costs related to buying Islamic financial products, in practice these costs are just replaced by transaction costs relating to the certification itself. It takes considerable time (2–3 months) and money (USD 122.000) to obtain a halal certification. Partially, this is because the market is highly concentrated and non-contestable. About 20 individual Sharia scholars control more than half the market, with the top 3 earning an estimated USD 4.5 million in fees per year. Moreover, this market seems plagued with problems, most notably a strong incentive for excessively lenient certification, lack of consensus on what is considered halal and sub-standard governance practices. We discuss solutions to these problems and conclude that a neutral non-profit government entity should assume the role of halal certifiers.


Islamic finance Certification Transaction costs

JEL Classification

L14 L15 D23 D82