The digital arm of one of Bahrain’s largest listed companies has entered the Islamic finance space, offering the Kingdom a mobile-only Islamic banking experience as it rides the fintech wave and broadens the growing Shariah digital bank community.
Known as alburaq, the Shariah compliant banking service is offered by ila Bank, the mobile-only retail banking arm of Bank ABC. ila Bank’s foray into Islamic finance comes after three years of serving the Bahraini market with conventional products since its launch in November 2019.
“By introducing this purely Islamic account from ila, we endeavor to offer Bahrain an all-inclusive banking experience that caters to the country’s diverse market, with a wide range of banking products that meet varying customer preferences, enabling us to further bolster financial inclusion in the country,” explained Bank ABC’s acting group CEO, Sael Al Waary.
Completely segregated from ila’s conventional accounts, alburaq’s range of products, which are backed by Bank ABC Islamic, include multicurrency accounts, debit cards and payment and remittance services. Customers of alburaq will also have exclusive access to a Wakalah investment product, available in the Bahraini dinar and US dollar. Onboarding of new customers is done completely via the ila mobile app, which also allows existing ila users to switch to alburaq.
ila’s move is in lockstep with a wider trend seen in the Kingdom as well as the region and beyond of incumbent financial institutions entering the Islamic digital finance space with a dedicated unit. alburaq joins meem, the digital Islamic retail banking arm of Gulf International Bank, in offering Halal banking services in Bahrain on an exclusively mobile/digital basis, while traditional banks such as Bank Islam Malaysia, Al Rajhi Bank Malaysia and Bank of London and The Middle East have also launched their digital-only propositions.
According to the IFN Islamic Fintech Landscape, there are at least 25 Islamic digital bank start-ups/platforms globally as at the 17th May 2023.