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PAKISTAN'S BANKING SECTOR ONE OF KEY DRIVERS OF ECONOMIC SOUNDNESS.

Byline: KHALIL AHMED

PAGE: TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION PLEASE:

SIRAJUDDIN AZIZ: HabibMetro Bank has spread its footprint across the country and is now present in 60 cities Pan-Pakistan -- the bank currently operates through a network comprising 240 branches. HabibMetro's organic growth is supplemented by strategic technological advancement; the bank's advanced IT architecture is continuously reviewed and updated on a global and local platform.

As per PACRA's assessment HabibMetro Bank's institutional strength has remained consistently sound; the rating agency has assigned long-term and short-term ratings of "AA+" (Double A plus) and "A1+" (A one plus) respectively to the bank for 13 consecutive years. HabibMetro's strong capital base (all tier-1) is fortified by the sound financial backing and management expertise of its parent company the HBZ Group (Switzerland). The Group enjoys a presence in Hong Kong Singapore United Arab Emirates Kenya South Africa United Kingdom and North America in addition to Pakistan.

PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON THE BANKING SECTOR OF PAKISTAN

SIRAJUDDIN AZIZ: Pakistan's banking sector and financial industry is one of key drivers of economic soundness; it lays out the financial inroads and infrastructure to mobilize the country's economic activity. Since its privatization in the 1990s the banking sector has grown at a noteworthy pace both in terms of its asset base and its financial depth/product spectrum. The industry now enjoys a diverse product spectrum and a depth that is at par with international financial centers. Islamic Banking is emerging as an alternate to conventional banking not just in Pakistan but across the world. Islamic Banking in Pakistan is exhibiting considerable and consistent growth with increased awareness and demand in its discerning customer base.

Electronic Banking is also an emerging banking medium that deserves a mention due to its increasing demand and scope. Electronic Banking has changed the banking landscape of the industry and now caters to the financial needs of the customers in a revolutionized way. The quantum of transactions conducted via this medium and the growth witnessed by the same is an indication of how Electronic Banking can be expected to remain a key driver of financial development/advancement in Pakistan in the future.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON THE FINANCIAL INDUSTRY OF PAKISTAN:

SIRAJUDDIN AZIZ: The financial industry has a lot of potential and a great way to go despite its impressive evolvement over the past few decades. In particular the industry can improve with regard to and adopt the technological advancements modernized banking mediums and channels introduced by the more-developed banking sectors in the world. The industry also needs to continuously expand its product spectrum with the aim of enhancing its financial depth.

PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON ENTRY OF FOREIGN BANKS IN PAKISTAN

SIRAJUDDIN AZIZ: The Banking Regulator in Pakistan encourages foreign banking presence in the country and the requirements and procedures laid down for banking market entry are demonstrative of this attitude. I am of the opinion that the presence of quality financial expertise in the market tends to enhance the overall industry acumen and performance with healthy competition and transfer of knowledge. It also enables our banks to establish a greater network of relationships across the globe. Therefore I feel that we should attract foreign banks from countries that do not have a financial presence in Pakistan yet in addition to new entrants from countries that already enjoy financial representatives/organizations here.

PAGE: YOUR COMMENTS ON HOW TO INCREASE DEPOSITS:

SIRAJUDDIN AZIZ: Banks are driven to grow organically by increasing their branch outreach; a growth strategy that facilitates financial penetration within the country. We now see financial inclusion of rural areas where banks are opening their respective branches to enhance outreach. Increasing access to banking and tapping on unbanked population also leads to sustainable growth in total deposit base of the sector.

But the key driver of deposit mobilization remains embedded within the fundamentals of safety of principal coupled with quality of service.
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Publication:Pakistan & Gulf Economist
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Nov 23, 2014
Words:654
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