Gulf state-owned bank Al Hillal in the United Arab Emirates has rolled out the new bank card which complies with Islamic laws banning charging interest on loans in a bid to appeal to the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.
Islamic law or Shariah forbids ‘riba’, the charging of interest on loans, because it enables the rich to exploit the poor, creates social and economic tension and encourages risk, according to scholars.
MasterCard spokesman James Issokson said, according to NBCNEWS.com: ‘We continue to see a growing demand, especially in the Middle East, for Islamic banking in general, and more specifically in our case, for cards that are Shariah-compliant in accordance with the tenets of the Islamic faith.’
As well as the compass which allows the cardholder to orientate themselves towards prayers five times a day, the new MasterCard has other benefits.
Cardholders have access to travel vouchers to pay for the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca, which Muslims are required to do at least once in their lifetime if they have the means.
Mr Issokson said: ‘A percentage of the money spent using the card is donated to local charities.’