First Security Islami Bank Limited (FSIBL) is shifting its focus to small businesses and small deposits through introducing new and innovative products and services using digital technologies, the bank's top executive said.
The Shariah-based Islamic bank has also put emphasis on bringing the unbanked people into the banking network in line with the ongoing financial inclusion campaigns of the government.
"The FSIBL has been continuously upgrading its products and services considering the growing demand of our clients and the economy by using modern and digital technologies," Syed Waseque Md Ali, managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) of the bank, told The Financial Express (FE) in an exclusive interview recently ahead of the bank's 22nd anniversary today (Monday).
Mr Ali said FSIBL was planning to hit the market with some innovative products and services for SMEs, women and the agriculture sector.
"We are proud of our FSIBL Cloud, an app-based digital operation," he said.
FSIBL Cloud is a unique banking application - compatible with both Android and iOS - developed by the ICT division of the bank. It has features like fund transfer within FSIBL, fund transfer through BEFTN and RTG and MFSs, QR pay, mobile recharge, utility bill payment and many more.
The senior banker said they had established an excellent network of banks to reach out to the customers.
"We now have 193 branches, 65 agent banking outlets, 122 sub-branches and 192 own ATM set-ups across the country to serve our clients," he said.
"Besides, we have a strong mobile banking and digital banking network to boost the government's financial inclusion programme," he said.
Among different products and services, 'FSIBL Murubbi' is for elderly citizens, 'FSIBL Mohioshi' is for women, and 'Sanchay Prakalpa' is a replication of Sanchaypatra (Savings certificate), said the banker, adding that FSIBL had introduced a number of other products and services catering to the needs of specific groups.
The bank's CEO said they had continued providing uninterrupted services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
FSIBL has started gaining clients again like the pre-pandemic time, he said, adding that the ongoing pandemic could not leave a serious impact on their business.
It is true that non-performing loans (NPL) is a grave concern for the banking sector and the pandemic has deteriorated the situation further, said Mr Ali.
"However, FSIBL is not facing such a problem as our board and management have been working professionally and diligently to remain competitive in the market," the CEO said, while replying to a query about the major challenges for the banking sector.
"We were able to limit our NPL to five per cent." The opportunity of the banking sector always remains very wide, said the senior banker.
He said, "If the sector is operated by professional and honest sponsors and shareholders, the sector would not suffer."
Islamic banks need to spread awareness so that customers know more about the faith-based banks, the CEO said.
He stressed the need for introducing intensive training programmes for Islamic bankers.
The bank celebrates its 22nd anniversary today (Monday).
It obtained permission from the Bangladesh Bank to commence its business as a conventional bank on August 29, 1999.
Later, it converted its operation into Islamic Shariah-based banking on January 01, 2009, from the conventional one.
FSIBL currently has two subsidiaries - First Security Islami Capital and Investment Limited and First Security Islami Exchange Italy SRL.