Photo: Aerial view of Astana city centre with the Baiterek Tower in the foreground, on July 29, 2019. Udmurd/Shutterstock

Islamic Finance

Qatar’s Al Rayan setting up digital bank in Kazakhstan

A subsidiary of Qatar’s Masraf Al Rayan is setting up a digital bank at the Astana International Financial Centre.

The company said in a bourse filing on Monday (Mar 2) that Al Rayan Investment is currently working on the requirements to set up the new bank with an expected paid-up capital of $10 million and authorised capital of $20 million.

Shariah-compliant Al Rayan said it is in the process of singing a memorandum of understanding with the AIFC to establish a framework for cooperation during the licensing process.

This will be the first international expansion for Al Rayan Investment. Outside Qatar, its parent company owns UK’s Al Rayan Bank.

Masraf Al Rayan’s business divisions are divided into retail, wholesale and private banking. The Qatari bank made a net profit of 2.19 billion rials ($601.5 million) in 2019, up 2.24% from 2018. It held 106.4 billion rials in assets at the end of last year.

The AIFC was set up in 2018 primarily to attract investments into Kazakhstan. It is home to 405 registered companies, it says on its website. Underlining the importance of Islamic finance to its strategy and business, AIFC last year appointed a Chief Islamic Finance Officer, a unique role for a financial centre.

Al Rayan has its sights on gaining a foothold in Central Asia, saying Kazakhstan is “a new hub” for Islamic finance in the region.

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