3.5% GROWTH IN GLOBAL ISLAMIC FINANCE

Dubai 2020 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Adnan Chilwan, Group Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Islamic Bank, on the global Fintech market, Expo 2020, and big ambitions.

Dubai's prominence as Islamic finance hub: In our conversation with DIEDC, we talked a bit about a paradigm shift whereby the direction of knowledge transfer has shifted and others are looking to Dubai as the standard. How do you asses so far Dubai's ability to establish itself as a model for Islamic finance and its strengths?

Islamic finance has made an enormous impact on the global finance industry, with more and more banks establishing Islamic finance operations. According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2019/2020, Global Islamic Finance assets have grown 3.5% year-on-year, exceeding USD2.5 trillion assets in the Global Islamic finance industry and are projected to reach USD3.8 trillion by 2023. There is no doubt that Dubai has played a significant role in this strong growth trajectory as the emirates aims to become the global capital of Islamic economy. The wise leadership of the UAE have simultaneously ensured a strong business environment that is conducive to innovation, growth and transformation within the profession. Today, Dubai is widely regarded as the epicenter of Islamic finance between east and west and has established itself as a model not only for the industry but also the wider global Islamic economy, which includes key pillars such as halal food, travel, tourism, entertainment, art and culture. It is also no coincidence that Dubai is the birthplace of Dubai Islamic Bank; the world's first Islamic bank. Notably, the Emirate is also one of the world's largest venues for Sukuk listings - and a number of diverse issuances that meet Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria have been made this year, a further evidence of the sustainability of the business model that Dubai is showcasing to the world

Market trends: fintech & innovation: A recent report from S&P Global identified technology and fintech as one of the key accelerators for Islamic finance. Can you elaborate on Dubai Islamic Bank's progress in integrating and developing fintech and other innovative solutions?

The global fintech market continues to grow, now valued in excess of $150 million and expected to triple in the coming five years to exceed USD150 billion. At DIB, we have always believed that continuous innovation is vital to our growth strategy. We have always championed innovation in order to remain the most progressive financial institution in the world, a key part of our vision and successful business strategy. Our primary approach to digital banking is always formulated with a clear focus on dissecting each step of the customer journey and removing any pain points for the customer. Notable examples include the creation of paperless branches and our state-of-the-art Mobile Banking App. More recently, we launched 'Banking in Minutes' - making us the first to own the element of “time" in the industry. Now UAE nationals and residents that were previously not DIB customers can open a bank account anytime anywhere, within a few minutes via the powerful DIB Mobile App – eliminating the need for them to visit a branch or complete copious amounts of paperwork. Going forward, the emergence of technology, robotics and artificial intelligence will all assist in providing opportunities for clients to experience ultimate banking. We continue to utilize and transform fintech to improve our internal processes, thereby enabling our customers to manage their finances more effectively.

Recent company developments: As Dubai's, and the country's, largest Islamic bank, what other recent company developments would you like to highlight?

We have reported strong Financial Results over the years, with Net-Profit crossing AED 4.0 billion, up by 8% year-on-year in 2019 so far. If we look at the last 5 years, DIB has transformed into a regional financial powerhouse on the back of successful growth strategy which has seen our balance sheet double in size, and profitability more than quadruple. This has placed the bank among the top two Islamic banks in the world, and the top 3 most profitable banks in the UAE. We have also grown our international presence, becoming a torchbearer in promoting Sharia-compliant financial services across number of markets worldwide. Our international expansion is focused primarily on the “PIK" region comprising of Pakistan, Indonesia and Kenya, allowing us to connect the dots from Far East to South Asia via the Middle East to Africa. Our operations in Kenya will serve as a stepping stone to tap into the growing market in Eastern Africa. Simultaneously, the rebranded Panin Dubai Syariah Bank in Indonesia is set to serve a thriving population of 200 million, 95% of whom are Muslims. DIB has also prepared to position itself as one of the largest Islamic Banks in the world through the acquisition of Noor Bank in 4Q2019. The acquisition is set to strengthen Dubai's position as a global center of Islamic Finance by creating the region's most progressive Shari'a banking group.

Strategic priorities: What are your strategic priorities and vision for Dubai Islamic Bank as we look beyond 2020 and at the next decade?

Our core mission is to make Islamic Finance the norm for everyone. We believe the model offers value to all customers irrespective of beliefs. As we expand our legacy throughout the region, we see significant opportunity in educating different markets on the advantage that Islamic Finance can offer. We are also cognizant of the fact that the banking profession is going through major transformation. At DIB, we know that continuous innovation is essential for growth and sustainability. Our digital transformation is driven by a client-centric strategy and every new product or initiative under the digital agenda must tangibly improve the customer experience. In this fast moving world, responsiveness is key and we are fully committed to that. As the new year marks the largest event to ever happen in the Arab World, Expo 2020 will bring a multitude of opportunities to all UAE-based industries including banks. It is expected to attract no less than 25 million visitors from 192 countries to Dubai over the six-month period. At DIB, our aspiration is simple – create new opportunities to help us reach our goal of being “THE BIGGEST ISLAMIC BANK IN THE WORLD".