New generation of virtual Islamic bank in the making in Bahrain
Gulf Finance House (GFH), a Bahrain-based Islamic investment bank, will set up a Future Integrated Islamic Bank in a move aimed at "initiating a new generation of Islamic banks," GFH executives said Tuesday, November 13.
The Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA), or central bank, has authorized GFH to set up the proposed bank. The Future Integrated Islamic Bank will boost the Islamic banking industry, said GFH board member Abdul Latif Janahi.
A GFH spokesman told AFP the venture, which has been in the pipeline for a year, would provide services to Islamic bank customers through delivery channels not requiring a physical presence, including the Internet and mobile phones.
The "virtual bank" will be headquartered in Bahrain but have no branches, although it will operate "in some sort of partnership with (conventional) Islamic banks," said the spokesman, who asked not to be identified.
The plan was for the bank to be operational in the second quarter of 2002, he added. The spokesman said claims in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks on the United States that Islamic banks were funding terror groups were part of unfounded allegations leveled at Muslims in general.
None of the suspects named on the various US blacklists issued since September 11 had an account in an Islamic bank in the Gulf region, and Islamic banks were continuing to deal with banks in Europe and the United States, he said. In any case, the spokesman added, "our market is the Gulf and MENA (Middle East and North Africa). We're not targeting the US."
A just-ended international Islamic banking conference in Manama heard prominent speakers, including Bahrain's crown prince defend Islamic banks, some of which have been accused by Washington of funding terrorism.
GFH has a paid-up capital of $65 million and an authorized capital of $150 million. Shareholders include Dubai Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Kuwait-based Gulf Investment House, Kuwait Finance House, Qatar Islamic Bank, Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank and Saudi Economic Development Co. — (AFP, Manama)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)