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‘ISLAMI BANKS AREN’T SUPPOSED TO HAVE NPL, BECAUSE THE SHARIAH GIVES YOU A LITTLE MORE EDGE’

Syed Waseque Md Ali, Managing Director, First Security Islami Bank Limited | Photo : Arif Mahmud Riad

Incorporated in 1999 and starting shariah banking in 2009, First Security Islami Bank is among the 8 8 Islami Shariah based private commercial banks in the country. Currently serving over 1.6 million customers, having Paid-up Capital of Tk.7840.99 million (as on 31.12.2018),the bank has 177 core banking service facilitated branches and more than 148 ATMs across the country,11 no. of Collection Booths and 22 no. of Agent Banking Outlets. Having correspondence banking relationship with 223 different renowned Banks across the world, relationship with 13 Exchange houses, own exchange house in Italy. Have a Shari’ah Board and Shari’ah council to shape the services through Islamic Shari’ah rules and regulations.


In an interview with Fintech the bank’s managing director Syed Waseque Md Ali talked about the bank’s operation, its future plan and more.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I started my career in IFIC Bank in 1983, where I was for nearly 13 years. I was in Dutch Bangla Bank next and worked for a long time. I joined here in 2008 as the senior executive vice president. In 2011, I was promoted to deputy managing director. And in 2015 I began working as the managing director.

As a veteran in the sector, what are the changes you have seen in retail banking in the last 10/15 years?

There have been massive changes. Retail banking is no longer retail banking. You now have MFS or mobile financial service. And there is agent banking, which is quite big now.

Back when I started we had certain compliances that were very important, which are now not as important.

There was no rural banking focusing on agriculture, it came later. We have now began getting the benefits of digital banking. Rural economies were being pushed aside before, but that has changed too because of much better circulation of money. All this created a big impact. Moreover, increased involvement of women entrepreneurs created a positive change in Bangladesh in terms of world banking, or even retail banking.

You have launched the product Tasdir recently. Tell us about it.

This is mainly a factory oriented product. It will mainly benefit the garments industry. They work through contract agencies. That’s why there is the concern of payments coming through. The agencies are also concerned about this usually.

This is where we come in. We have partnered with one company so far who will now get the payment through us. The product hasn’t quite picked up the pace yet. But we are very hopeful that something big is on the way. LC is on the way out and it won’t be there after a while. We will going to need a structure for factoring for this contract to work. There has been some good progress on this.

Which are your best performing products?

We have diversified products. We have products for school children, we have products for college students, housewives and recently we have made an unique banking application service through smart phone based on Android & iOS which we named FSIBL Cloud. I think this is quite interesting.

Through the ‘FSIBL Cloud’ our valued customers are facilitated as follows:

  • Customer Profile Account information (including NID number & E-TIN information)
  • All account (including investment account) summary & detail information there on.
  • Fund Transfer Facility within FSIBL.
    1. Own Account, b) Other Account.
  • Fund Transfer facility to another bank account through
    a) BEFTN, b) RTGS
  • Utility Bill Payment
    a) DESCO, b) Dhaka WASA, c) DPDC
  • Mobile Airtime Recharge to all TELCOS in Bangladesh
  • Payment to Merchant Account through Quick Response (QR) code.
  • View all our Branches and ATM booths Location.
  • FSIBL all Products details & request of account opening.
  • EMI, MTDR profit calculator.
  • Exchange rate (USD, EURO etc).
  • Contacts info. (Head Office and Branches).
  • Standing Instructions.

This cloud has proved to be very popular. We have tested it thoroughly to ensure security. I am really proud that this was developed fully by our boys in-house.

Another popular product has been the new iteration of a five-year term product, against which monthly payment is withdrawn. You know there is a deposit crunch going on. So, we now provide three, two and one year options for this product. People are very interested in this. The monthly return has been very satisfactory for your customers.

What are your thoughts on the budget this year? What kind of impact it will have on the banks?

This is one of the biggest budgets. Budgets are meant to execute bigger plans. In a word, budget is a planning. So now the plans are good you have to look at implementation. Ideally you would hope that it will be implemented a 100 percent. But that’s not possible. The size of the budget is still thrilling.

This is a huge budget in Bangladesh’s context. You have to expand the tax net. It has to be friendly too. There should be some automatic facilities for those who are paying the big taxes.

NPL is a big issue. What is your situation?

FSIB is still within five percent. Our NPL is little less than five. There is room for improvements, but we are happy. And Islami banks aren’t supposed to have NPL anyway, because the Shariah gives you a little more edge, you know. But overall we can do well within our reach and are working according to the rules.

Tell us about ‘SureCash’.

Today SureCash is the name of an MFS. When SureCash came into effect, it satrted with First Security Islami Bank and we call it ‘first pay sure cash’. SureCash is doing very good. To be honest, there has been massive response to SureCash. We have school tuition, different fees payments. WASA, DESA, DESCO utility bills are being paid.

We have p2p (person to person) transactions. We have nearly 12 lakh clients now. BRTA registration payment is through us. I think this is very interesting and our customers are really happy too. We started this seven years ago and we were very optimistic about it from the beginning.

Three banks have recently been the victims of cyber attacks. Concerns have been raised about security, including not having PCI DSS certification. What is your situation on that front?

The PCI DSS is not eligible here yet because we don’t use our own switch. We use the switch of IDC. 16 banks remain under IDC and we are one of them. We have been in touch with IDC and they are very much vigilant about this.

What new innovative tech you have adopted?

I would say our Cloud, as I mentioned before. We began internet banking on a limited scale, but it was very popular so we are working on deploying it on a bigger scale.

There are other plans too. We can’t be behind in technology. As a third generation bank we have to be digitally up to date.

Developed countries are moving toward cashless fast. How far behind is Bangladesh?

If you look at the last 10 years, you will see that there have been massive changes already. Before, we didn’t even comprehend the concept of cashless fully. We had people waiting on the queue for a long time to withdraw money. But now look where we are. People at restaurants and shops expect payment by cards.

We have entered the realm of cashless, and we will have less cash increasingly. As the digital infrastructure becomes stronger we will have better technology and even paperless money.

Thank you very much.

Thank you too.

 

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