Bank Nizwa in partnership with Islamic Finance News (IFN) successfully concluded the second ‘Islamic Finance News Forum’. Sharing his expertise in the IFN Debate was Bank Nizwa’s new CEO, Khalid Al Kayed, who discussed the challenges of standardization and increased regulation. The CEO also took part in the closed-door IFN Oman Dialogue session to openly discuss the benefits and concerns facing the Islamic Finance market. Other sessions at the forum looked into the legal and regulatory framework of Islamic Finance, the development of sustainable and efficient Islamic capital markets, capital market activity and economic development, and innovation in Islamic Finance.
Dr Jamil El Jaroudi, chief executive officer of Bank Nizwa, expects Islamic finance to grow above 15-20 per cent of the total banking sector activities in Oman. Speaking about the bank's growth, he said, breakeven was reached in December after three years of operation. Over the next few months, a mobile branch will travel around the Sultanate offering a host of products, services and also make the people aware on the benefits of Islamic banking. According to bank officials mobile branch will help customers to open new accounts, activate debit cards, receive account balances and mini statements, deposit cash and cheques.
Islamic financial institutions in Oman are expected to achieve a healthy growth in the banking sector in the near future, said Dr Jamil El Jaroudi, chief executive officer of Bank Nizwa. He also said that Bank Nizwa will open new branches in the Sultanate by the end of the year. The bank was able to reach breakeven in December after three years of operations. In order to reach more potential clients, a mobile branch will travel all-around the Sultanate offering a host of products, services and also make the people aware on the benefits of Islamic banking. The truck’s journey will start from the governorate of Muscat, moving on to Dakhiliyah, Al Sharqiya, Dhofar, Al Batinah and Al Buraimi.
Bank Nizwa SAOG has signed an agreement to provide a structured financing facility of USD 50 million to Hydrocarbon Finder E&P LLC (HCF), an independent Oil & Gas exploration & production company. The Bank's Shari'a-compliant package is tailored to meet the requirements of HCF, which has been granted concession rights by the Government of Oman for oil & gas exploration, development and production within an onshore geographical area in Oman termed as Block 7. Hydrocarbon Finder E&P LLC is part of the Services & Trade (S&T Group), an Oman based business conglomerate. The Facilities agreement was signed by Dr. Jamil El Jaroudi, CEO of Bank Nizwa and Brig. Gen. (Retd) Sulaiman Al Adawi, Group Chairman of the S&T Group, on February 10th in Muscat.
More full-fledged Islamic banks are needed and the Islamic banking services of conventional banks should be converted into full subsidiaries if Oman were to fully embrace the Islamic finance concept in its entirety, says Dr Jamil El Jaroudi, CEO at Bank Nizwa. It would also eliminate potential regulatory arbitrage between conventional banking and Islamic banking that could harm or raise doubt on the Sharia aspects, he added. The Islamic windows' cost of doing business and relying on their parent banks’ infrastructure resulted in a disadvantage for the business of fully-fledged banks. Nonetheless, the windows have yet to reach their critical sizes to be able to justify conversion into standalone banks.
Oman's Bank Nizwa has launched a pioneering educational platform entitled 'Islamic Finance Knowledge Series', which aims to raise the community's awareness about Islamic banking across Oman. Jamil El Jaroudi, the bank's chief executive officer, noted that the new initiative is seeking to address the misconceptions about the concept of Islamic banking. El Jaroudi said that one mistaken belief is that it is more expensive to obtain financing from an Islamic bank than a conventional bank, which is not necessarily true. The sessions of the series will be delivered to both the public and private sector individuals, as well as college and university students.
Islamic banking in Oman is growing at a slower pace than expected and requires new legislation and stronger public awareness of the industry to flourish, Bank Nizwa CEO Jamil El Jaroudi said. He added that there is also a skills shortage in the Omani market. The legal and regulatory framework in Oman supports the launch of the Islamic banking industry but further development of legislature is needed for the sector to mature. Bank Nizwa, Oman's first independent Islamic bank, started operations in January 2013 and raised OMR 60 million in an initial public offering of 40% of its shares in May 2013. Jaroudi said the bank had no plans to issue new sukuk, or Islamic bonds. He said the bank planned to launch Internet banking services and other shariah-compliant products.
Oman's Bank Nizwa has partnered with the Ministry of Endowment and Religious affairs to create a seamless opportunity for customers to pay their Zakat. Customers can now easily transfer the required amount from their accounts into the allocated Ministry of Religious Affairs account at Bank Nizwa . They can also deposit cash directly into this account. Customers who regularly wish to transfer Zakat can set up a standing order. Bank Nizwa customers who choose to pay their Zakat through the afore mentioned Bank Account are assured of a waiver of fees on all standing orders linked to this account. There are also fee waivers on internal, local and International transfers associated with this account.
Bank Nizwa, Oman's first full-fledged Islamic bank, has received an investment banking licence that will allow it to manage funds and issue instruments such as Islamic bonds. The bank launched operations in January and is gradually rolling out a range of sharia-compliant products, aiming to grab a 5 percent share of the country's overall banking market in five years. In December, Oman became the last country in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council to adopt Islamic finance, issuing extensive regulations for the sector.
Bank Nizwa and INCEIF signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), under which the institutions will collaborate to jointly provide structured training and development initiatives for Omani nationals working in the Islamic Finance Industry. The MoU was signed at the Oman Islamic Economic Forum (OIEF), held recently at the Al Bustan Palace. The OIEF, the brainchild of Amjaad Development and Bank Nizwa, took the theme of 'The Islamic Economy: a Culture of Excellence'. INCEIF, The Global University of Islamic Finance, was set up by Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank of Malaysia) to develop human capital for the global Islamic finance industry. The collaboration aims to provide thought leadership training to the Omani Islamic finance industry in order for the regional and global industry to benefit.
Bank Nizwa is going to request the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) for allowing the bank to get relaxation in deploying funds in overseas markets for a certain period, until Sharia-compliant products are available within the domestic market. Dr Jamil Jaroudi, Chief Executive Officer of Bank Nizwa said there are restrictions in the new law that do not allow Islamic banks to achieve their full potential. The law for sukuk and takaful need to be issued, and the banking regulations have to be adjusted in order to attract Islamic investment, he added. The CBO needs to frame regulation for short-term instruments, which will allow Islamic banks to deploy their excess liquidity.
The headquarters of Bank Nizwa will open today at Al Qurum. At the same time, its branches in Sohar and Nizwa will be opened as well. Gradually, several further branches will be opened. The launch of the bank was announced after the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) released the Islamic Banking Regulatory Framework (IBRF). It is expected that Bank Nizwas launch will push Islamic banking and economy in Oman and attract more deposits from Omanis, who have their deposits outside the country.
Bank Nizwa has given a request to deploy their funds abroad to Oman's central bank for consideration. Thus, Bank Nizwa will be able to get returns instead of keeping the money idle until the bank starts operation. The capital base of Bank Nizwa is OR150m, compared to that Alizz Islamic Bank's paid up capital is as high as OR100m.
Fitch Rating Agency warns about Sharia-complained banks as they do not complete with established conventional banks offering Islamic-compliant products. This is especially the case in Oman who's banking market hasn't been opened yet.
After Oman allowed sharia-compliant lending last year, new Islamic banks are bolstering their balance sheets in order to challenge the sultanate's larger conventional lenders. Al Izz Islamic bank recently enabled subscription for its initial public offering of 40 per cent of the lender and reports strong interest. In addition, in June 2012 Bank Nizwa attracted 681m rials ($1.77bn) of bids in a successful share sale, which exceeds the necessary amount 11 times. However, competition is not to be underestimated.
Bank Nizwa chose Path Solutions’ iMAL for its entire Islamic core banking solutions needs. The agreement was signed in Muscat between the Chairman of the Founding Committee of Bank Nizwa, Ahmed Saif Al Rawahi, and Path Solutions’ Group Chairman & CEO, Mohammed Kateeb. Witnesses at the ceremony were representatives of the founders of the Bank.
According to the agreement, Path Solutions will install at Bank Nizwa the state-of-the-art core banking system, iMAL which is an integrated, scalable and Sharia-compliant banking solution that helps financial institutions offer competitive Islamic products and unparalleled service to customers.
Dr Jamil el Jaroudi was named chief executive officer at Bank Nizwa.
Ahmed Saif al Rawahi, chairman of the Bank Nizwa Founding Committee, announced with pleasure this appointment, adding that Dr Jamil el Jaroudi brings many years of commercial experience has strong credentials in both Islamic banking and banking start-ups.
Dr Jaroudi has an MBA from Columbia University, and a PhD in finance from Kellogg School, Northwestern University, US.
It is possible that Bank Nizwa will begin its branch operations in July this year. The bank has an ambitious plan to reach in every part of the Sultanate in near future to offer Islamic banking products to citizens and residents.
The Muscat branch of the bank would be established at Shatti al Qurum and an international consultant is working on the design of the building. It appears that the bank will provide commercial banking services for both personal and corporate customers.
It is possible that Bank Nizwa opens for business by either the end of the year or early 2012. Bank Nizwa is expected to have a capital base of OR150m ($389.6m).
Bank Nizwa is expected to open its doors either towards the end of the year or early next year.
Hamoud bin Sangour Al Zadjali, Central Bank of Oman (CBO) executive president, thinks that the bank will have a capital of RO150 million from which 40 % will be offered to the public through an initial public offering.
The CBO chief also added that existing banks, that intend to start window operation for Sharia-compliant products, can offer them through an existing branch and there is no need for opening an exclusive branch.