Al Amanah Islamic Bank: Leading the path of Islamic banking in the Philippines

Manila Standard – As Al Amanah Islamic Bank of the Philippines (AAIIBP) celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023, it sets its sights on new horizons, positioning itself as a pioneer in digital banking and spearheading the Islamic banking industry in the country.

In a recent interview with Manila Standard, Alex Bangcola, Chairman and President of AAIIBP, revealed the bank’s aspirations to further strengthen its position in the banking sector.

“We’re off to greater heights in our golden year, serving as a springboard towards a digital banking era,” he stated, emphasizing the importance of “Amanah 2.0” and the sustainability of Islamic banking.

Bangcola elaborated on the significance of a revamped AAIIBP, stating that it represents a transformative phase for the bank.

“Amanah 2.0 signifies our commitment to reimagining our services, embracing digital advancements, and providing innovative solutions to our customers,” he explained.

This forward-looking approach aims to enhance customer experience, streamline processes, and leverage technology to deliver cutting-edge Islamic banking services.

In a significant development for the first and only Islamic Banking institution in the country so far, a Swiss project finance company called Soleil Capitale Groupe GmbH (SCG) has acquired a 40% stake in the bank. This strategic investment by SCG not only grants them multiple board seats but also provides an opportunity for AAIIBP to play a pivotal role in the development of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) through its expertise in Islamic finance.

With AAIIBP being the sole Islamic bank in the Philippines, this investment opens doors to the fast-growing Islamic finance industry. SCG’s entry into AAIIBP positions the bank to spearhead the development initiatives in BARMM, which requires substantial investments in transportation, communication, health, education infrastructure, and other key sectors. By leveraging SCG’s global network and expertise, AAIIBP aims to attract development funds and promote inclusive progress, trade, tourism, and agriculture in the region.

Furthermore, the interview shed light on AAIIBP’s potential transition to privatization. Bangcola discussed the advantages of this move, stating, “This is a crucial step for Amanah’s future. It will allow us to fully unlock our potential and implement innovative strategies to benefit our clients and the Islamic banking sector.”

He added that this transition would provide the bank with greater flexibility, agility, and autonomy to drive growth, expand its offerings, and adapt to the evolving needs of customers.

Discussing the sustainability of Islamic banking, Bangcola highlighted its fundamental principles, which prioritize ethical and equitable practices.

“Islamic banking is a sustainable system that promotes fairness, transparency, and shared prosperity. It aligns with the values of responsible banking, making it an attractive choice for individuals and businesses seeking ethical financial solutions,” he emphasized.

This sustainability-focused approach positions AAIIBP as a trusted institution for those looking to make socially responsible financial decisions.

Under Bangcola’s leadership, AAIIBP has witnessed a remarkable transformation. When he assumed the presidency in 2017, the bank’s Islamic banking transactions accounted for only 15% of its operations. Today, that figure has surged to an impressive 90%, surpassing conventional banking. This significant shift demonstrates AAIIBP’s commitment to promoting and facilitating Islamic finance, while also catering to the diverse financial needs of its clientele.

Looking ahead, AAIIBP plans to expand its presence nationwide, aiming to double its current nine branches. Bangcola emphasized the bank’s unwavering dedication to the development and upliftment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). By increasing accessibility to Islamic banking services and facilitating economic growth, AAIIBP seeks to contribute significantly to the region’s prosperity and advancement.

Al Amanah Islamic Bank stands as a beacon of trust, inclusivity, and ethical banking principles in the Philippines. As it celebrates its remarkable journey, AAIIBP remains dedicated to leading the way in Islamic banking, continually pushing boundaries, and forging a path towards a future where financial innovation meets social responsibility—beyond personal belief, beyond religion, and beyond boundaries.

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