DUBAI: Muslim consumers worldwide contributed US$107bn to the global digital economy of nearly US$2 trillion in 2014, and their spending will grow faster than the rest of the digital economy by 2020, according to a new study.

The Digital Islamic Economy Report, from information firm Thomson Reuters and DinarStandard, a growth strategy researcher, said that the Islamic digital economy was growing at a compound annual growth rate of 17%, outstripping that of the total global digital economy by two percentage points. 

The report found more than 2,000 Islamic lifestyle services were being provided across websites and mobile platforms worldwide. The most popular categories included news & insights (used by 21% of consumers), followed by retail sales and media & entertainment.

Five more categories were highlighted as offering substantial business opportunities, including: the sharing economy; social commerce; retail ecommerce; food transportation & logistics; and Islamic finance investment products.

And online fashion retail was identified as the most successful business model, with e-stores Modanisa and SefaMerve among the top five Islamic consumer websites.

Islamic apps were also popular, with Muslim Pro – featuring a prayer calendar, the Koran and a compass that always indicates the direction of Mecca – ranking highest in terms of downloads.

Productivity and education apps, as well as apps for Halal food ratings and modest fashion also featured prominently on the Digital Islamic Consumer Services leader board.

One area where an Islamic-specific approach was less fruitful, however, was in social media services customised for Muslims. This was especially true of services pertaining to news & insights, which typically rely on revenue support from online advertising.

"The report essentially shows how vital Islamic digital economy has become to the everyday lives of Muslims across the world, and points towards specific areas of growth and business potential,” said Nadim Najjar, managing director of Thomson Reuters, Middle East and North Africa.

Data sourced from Thomson Reuters; additional content by Warc staff