The Islamic Bank of Thailand (IBank) plans to increase its focus on halal food exports, with a target of 3 billion baht in loans for the industry this year, says bank president Dheerasak Suwannayos.
The target is a 50% increase from last year, he said. IBank expects to extend 20 billion baht in credit to all sectors this year.
Mr Dheerasak said of Asean’s 601 million people, Muslims account for 260 million.
The planned market integration called the Asean Economic Community in 2015 will result in new business opportunities for the Thai halal food industry across the region, he said.
Other markets also offer strong potential in the sector. Mr Dheerasak said while the US has only 8 million Muslims, the value of its halal food market is quite large at an estimated US$12 billion per year.
The global market is estimated at 700 billion baht per year. Thai halal food exports are worth only 10 billion baht, out of total Thai food exports of some 70 billion baht.
Mr Dheerasak said in IBank’s 10th year of operations it will increasingly focus on retail customers, particularly those unable to access formal financial services. Retail customers account for 62% of the bank’s total credit portfolio, with small and medium-sized enterprises representing the rest.
The bank hopes its “Family Member” referral programme will help support its marketing initiatives, with current customers receiving commission fees based on new business volume generated from referrals.
Over the next several months, the bank also will introduce a new credit card, with a target of 40,000 cards issued by the end of the year.
In contrast to ordinary bank credit cards, the IBank card can be used to purchase goods and services while remaining in compliance with Islamic laws.
Mr Dheerasak said the bank plans to increase capital, now 12.5 billion baht, by another 1.5 billion in the third quarter to support new business growth. The additional capital is projected to be sufficient to support business growth for the next two years.