Islamic banking gains ground in Turkey

Turkey’s government has moved to expand Islamic banking by inviting public banks into the sector. Earlier this month, the largest state-run bank, Ziraat, received approval to establish an Islamic unit with $300 million in capital. Ziraat has nine months to establish the new bank. But a key question remains unanswered: Where will the capital come from? If Ziraat’s interest-based earnings are considered illicit, how is it going to establish the capital of an interest-free bank? To resolve the conundrum, the Treasury is reportedly planning to provide the required capital although it also operates on the basis of interest. Meanwhile, the government has already submitted a bill to parliament to clear legal hurdles in Vakifbank and Halkbank’s path to Islamic banking.