Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) is preparing to issue its first Islamic digital banking license in the coming months to a Qatari financial institution, a move the financial center hopes would boost its repertoire as a regional Shariah banking hub and attract more Islamic financial institutions to its shores.
Qatar-based Islamic banking group Masraf Al Rayan has confirmed that it is working on establishing an Islamic digital bank, to be incorporated in the AIFC, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Al Rayan Investment. The proposed bank, Al Rayan Bank, will have a paid-up capital of US$10 million and an authorized capital of US$20 million.
The AIFC and Al Rayan Investment are in the process of drawing up an MoU which would lay the framework for cooperation during the licensing process over the next few months. If and when it is formed, the bank would be the first fully-fledged digital bank in AIFC facilitating Shariah compliant banking and investment services.
“Al Rayan Investment has chosen Kazakhstan and particularly the AIFC, as the first market for international expansion for Al Rayan Investment. Kazakhstan represents a new hub for Islamic finance in Central Asia, which offers considerable potential; while AIFC represents the optimal platform for us as it is established on the same international best practice regulatory principles as our home domicile, the Qatar Financial Center. This should expedite our ability to offer our world-class products and services in such a promising market,” explained Adel Mustafawi, the group CEO of Masraf Al Rayan.
Since its launch in 2018, AIFC has been consistent in positioning itself as a regional financial hub, leveraging on the Islamic finance and ethical finance propositions. IFN Fintech understands that the financial center has been actively engaging institutions in other markets including across the GCC and Europe, and has received interest from several Islamic fintech start-ups.