What is your position in the market?
MUSA SHIHADEH When we started our business in 1979, we were the first Islamic bank in Jordan; others did not enter the market until several years later. We were the sole Islamic player in the banking sector, and we had our own law. In 2000, a law for the banking sector was issued as a whole, including a chapter for Islamic banking, and the law for JIB was cancelled. As the pioneer of Islamic banking, we handle 55% of Islamic transactions in the country. In terms of the entire banking sector, including Islamic and conventional, we are third in terms of deposits and investments, with only Housing Bank and Arab Bank ahead of us. Our compliance with sharia does not restrict our services to only Muslims; it is Islamic banking, yet we apply it as ethical business and service everyone who accepts our work. We service our customers through our branches, ATMs, and internet and telephone banking, with around 1 million accounts in the country and 95% Jordanian customers. Our business is focused on retail with small businessmen and individuals. Through this retail business, we finance almost 170,000 customers, ensuring that our customers are front and center. Their needs are changing, especially in terms of technology and digital services.
IYAD ASALI We continued with our growth in terms of all the items on our balance sheet, which has been the case for five years. It has been a challenging year as we continue to experience the impact of the influx of refugees. Nevertheless, this did not hinder us from continuing to grow. We focused on sectors that could add value to the economy, such as SMEs and clean energy, in collaboration with the Central Bank, which has done a great job in making such products available for Islamic banks. We placed particular emphasis on SMEs, and we have many products that provide subsidized financing to those sectors covered by funds that come from international organizations such as the World Bank and Arab Fund. It is then made available to us in a way that is sharia compliant. As a bank, we have been a financier for many projects that contribute to sectors and industries that consume large amounts of energy, so clean energy growth has significant impacts on many projects we finance.
What is the status of Islamic banking in Jordan?
MS We currently have almost 105 branches and offices in addition to serving our customers through almost 232 ATMs all over the country. Islamic banking in the country now accounts for 16.9% of banking in Jordan, and Jordan Islamic Bank's share is 9.5% of the total assets of the 24 banks in the country. In terms of the total number of deposits, Islamic banking holds 20% of the total banking, and our share is 12.5% of the sector as a whole. Islamic investments represent 24.5% of all investments and lending of conventional and Islamic banking, of which our share is almost 13.6%. We are open to any individual, regardless of religion, and we have deposits and investors from both sides, as we should be able to service people all over the world. This is the true application of sharia.
IA There is a tendency for people to prefer Islamic banks, particularly in the southern areas outside Amman, since their penetration there is much higher than conventional banks. Often, they prefer to deal with us because they will get the same, if not better, services with our sharia-compliant products. We have seen enormous growth in the number of accounts, reaching nearly five-fold growth in the last seven years. In addition, we have many retail products that are based on “qard al-hasan," or interest-free loans. This has increased financial inclusion because people come to the bank for such interest-free products.