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Sunday, 29 November 2015

Pakistan is upbeat on Islamic banking

Upbeat on shariah-compliant modes, Pakistan has just launched Islamic branchless banking claiming it to be "the first" - globally.
At the same time, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the central bank, just unveiled vast opportunities for foreign and domestic investors to come into the fold of all types of conventional and Islamic banking to invest and earn big dividends.
The first to take up the Branchless Islamic Banking (BIB) are Kuwait-based Meezan Bank and Ufone, a subsidiary of Pakistan Telecommunications Corporation (PTCL), partly owned by etisalat. The new ventures will carry the brand name of "Meezan-Upaisa," and it is the only Shariah-based branchless banking service.
The other cellphone-based branchless conventional banking in the country are Mobicash Waseela Bank operated by Mobilink, EasyPaisa-Tameer launched in cooperation with Norway-based Telenor, Ypaisa-U bank of Ufone and Timepey-Askari Bank.
While launching the new BIB customer service across Pakistan, SBP governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra said this is the first product of its kind, not only in Pakistan, but in the whole world. "We have granted the permission to launch this unique service in order to facilitate 95 per cent of Pakistanis who will like to deal only with Islamic banking services, and have remained away from the current conventional banking services, because of their Islamic faith," Wathra said.
SBP, which recently conducted a survey 'Knowledge, attitude and practices of Islamic banking in Pakistan', said there is an overwhelming, and evenly distributed, demand in the urban and rural areas of the country for Islamic banking. The demand for Islamic banking is as high as 95 per cent among the households at the retail level. "Demand stands at 73 per cent among the businessmen," according to the SBP survey, which is based on 9,000 households nationwide and includes banked and non-banked customers, and 1,000 corporates. Meezan Bank and Ufone took a full year to develop the BIB model, which has now been launched.
Win-win situation
"With this new collaboration, we aim to capitalise on the strength of both the parties - Meezan Bank's strength in Islamic banking and Upaisa's geographic footprint in facilitating customers, making it a win-win situation for all. This is because Upaisa is at the forefront in providing branchless banking services, and its collaboration at various levels and Meezan Bank holding over 50 per cent of the Islamic banking share in Pakistan," Ufone President Abdul Aziz said.
Asher Yaqub Khan, chief commercial officer of Ufone, said Islamic branchless banking will accelerate the goal of financial inclusion of the economy to a great extent.
President and chief executive of Meezan Bank Irfan Siddiqui said his bank has played a vital role in expanding access to Islamic financial services in Pakistan. "This initiative is poised to accelerate financial inclusion by adding convenience and greater reliability, deepening the role of Ufone through enhancing the value it provides to its customers and that of Meezan Bank in expanding the reach of Islamic financial services to every citizen in the country."
The two partners - Meezan Bank and Ufone - hope that their partnership will expand Islamic system footprint to its maximum potential customers and facilitate them to avail branchless banking services with utmost ease and convenience under the Islamic system. This will be the fist milestone in the ambit of Islamic branchless banking.
"Our partnership will provide the service at 10,000 points of service across 500 cities, districts and  villages. BIB will not only promote micro-financing but also finance for agriculture and small businessmen. It will also encourage savings by the general public, based on profit and loss model."
What is the size and scope of banking, and branchless banking, both in the conventional and Islamic modes? Wathra indicated this on the basis of current surveys conducted by the central bank.
Speaking at the launch of the Meezan Bank Ufone initiative he said it has opened up several new opportunities for the entire banking sector, as it will provide access to the people of low income groups. "There are 12,000 bank branches, 95 per cent of which are online, whereas 25,0000 branchless banking agents are serving low-cost and convenient access points. They are serving the needs of masses for cash-in and cash-out, domestic remittances, and bill payments."
Wathra also said that at present 9,600 ATMs have been installed, which are inter-connected through a local switch, providing payment facilities at merchant points. He said 42 million bank accounts have been opened, about 26 million plastic cards have been issued, and over 10 million mobile-wallet accounts are offering basic financial services on finger tips.
"Inspite of this big expansion of the banking services, there is no room for complacency. Pakistan, where 190 million people reside in geographically diverse areas, only 23 per cent of the adults currently avail any form of financial service. The access of people to a formal bank account is only 16 per cent, whereas only two per cent of adults have availed any form of formal credit. It is quite evident that the conventional approach of brick and mortar branches will never adequately serve the millions of unbanked masses in Pakistan," Wathra said.
SBP's recent surveys show that the market share of branchless or mobile-based, conventional banking mode Easy-Paisa is 54 per cent, United Bank's UBL-Omni 20 per cent, Mobicash of Mobilink 14 per cent and Ufone's Upaisa four per cent.

It shows that as far as the future of all types of banking services is concerned, sky is the limit. And here lies the vast money making opportunities for foreign and domestic investors and banks to make good dividends.

(Khleej Times / 29 November 2015)
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New insights on outlook of global Islamic finance to be unveiled

MANAMA — The convener of the 22-year World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) — Middle East Global Advisors — is set to reveal cutting-edge insights on the outlook of the global Islamic financial industry in its inaugural “Finance Forward Islamic Finance Outlook Report 2016” this December.
The “Finance Forward Islamic Finance Outlook Report 2016” will be launched on Dec. 1 during the World Islamic Banking Conference in Bahrain. The three-day conference will cover various areas related to Islamic banking in the current global financial environment.
Speaking ahead of the presentation of the report — to be launched at WIBC itself — Dr. Sayd Farook, vice chairman and CEO of Middle East Global Advisors, shared: “The Outlook Report is expected to serve as a compass for Islamic Finance leaders who are undertaking key decisions that will fundamentally shape their business strategies for 2016.”
The uniqueness of the report, he continued, is that it combines meaningful insights from Islamic finance leaders — gathered from an extensive survey of practitioners’ sentiment — with robust analysis of the performance of Islamic financial institutions.
According to the report, three major global macro developments of 2015 will shape the outlook of the industry: commodity prices (particularly oil), development in global interest rate policy, and a slowdown of the Chinese economy. Low commodity prices do not bode well for either the Gulf Cooperation Council or Southeast Asian economies, home to most of the world’s Islamic banks.
However, a positive outcome for Islamic banks in a ‘new normal’ of low oil prices is that they enter with low rates of non-performing loans, high liquidity (in part due to the limited liquidity management options), high capital levels and simple balance sheets with mostly Tier 1 capital overall.
Thus, while the outlook for Islamic banks is likely to be muted going forward (and some may even face some fall-off in profitability), many leading Islamic banks have built up their resilience in the face of tightening liquidity, slowing loan growth and worsening credit risks.

Survey results of the Outlook Report highlighted two key trends: the development of ethical business models and that of Digital Banking.
Speaking about the importance of these trends, Blake Goud, chief research officer at Middle East Global Advisors added, “Shariah compliance is necessary but not sufficient for consumers demanding ethical financial services. This implies that corporate social responsibility is not enough — consumers want their financial institutions to integrate an ethical approach into their core business mode.

(Saudi Gazette / 29 November 2015)
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