StanChart evaluating foray into sultanate’s Islamic banking market

Muscat - 

Standard Chartered is evaluating the possibility of entering the Islamic banking market in Oman, according to sources in the bank and news reports. With the Royal Decree to introduce Islamic finance to the sultanate issued in May this year, banks in Oman have been investigating the possibility of introducing Islamic banking windows and two new Islamic banks, Bank Nizwa and Al Izz International Bank, are expected to begin operations in 2012.

Regional news reports said that Standard Chartered is also evaluating the possibility of offering Islamic banking in the sultanate in 2012, adding that it is in talks with regulators.

A spokesman for the bank confirmed to Muscat Daily that it 'will be evaluating' any possible opportunities following the introduction of Islamic finance regulations earlier this year.

Speaking at a press conference in Dubai on Sunday, Wasim Saifi, global head of Islamic banking at Standard Chartered, said there is still ‘scope for  further growth’ in Sharia-compliant products as the industry continues to grow.

He said, “Markets such as Nigeria and Oman recently introduced Islamic banking, while recent political developments in North Africa indicate that Islamic banking will become a key focus area in that region.”

Saifi added that the size of the industry is currently estimated at US$1tn globally, with high growth expected in Pakistan and Indonesia, where “Islamic banking penetration is still in single digits.”

Sultan Ali Haider, general manager of Islamic banking at Standard Chartered UAE, added that in 2010 in UAE, Islamic banking assets constituted 35 per cent of the total consumer banking assets, but that is expected to grow by the end of 2012.

He said, “We expect Islamic assets in UAE to constitute 38 per cent - and Islamic liabilities 27 per cent - of the total consumer banking industry during 2012.”

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