Pakistan central bank plan to boost Islamic banking

State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) five-year strategic plan will drive strong asset growth in the Islamic finance sector, given the high domestic demand for Islamic banking. SBP’s plan targets a 15 per cent share of banking system assets for the sector by 2018, up from around 10 per cent as of December 2013. The National Bank of Pakistan will convert around 6 per cent of conventional branches into Islamic-banking branches over the next two years. Although the sector is expanding rapidly, the Islamic operations of the top five banks — National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank, MCB Bank, Allied Bank, and United Bank are small and currently account for less than 2 per cent of their assets on average. Moreover, rapid growth in the sector is likely to weaken asset quality.