One of the questions that we get asked the most at Islamic Bank Australia is “when will you publicly launch?”.
It’s a very valid question that we get asked all the time, whether on email, through Facebook or on phone calls to our Customer Help Centre. Many people have been waiting for many years for this dream to become a reality – but the great news is that we are closer than ever!
It’s challenging to start a new bank in Australia (as it should be). I often go to barbecues or events, and people look at me and say… “What?” “How do you even do that??”.
I’m very lucky as CEO to lead an incredibly talented team working on this at the moment. It is a complicated piece of work – there are literally thousands of things we have to get right in order to launch.
The idea of an Islamic bank was founded by a passionate group of Muslim Australians back in the 2010s, who were interested in launching Australia’s first Islamic bank. It’s an incredibly important idea; the fact that Muslim Australians do not currently have a choice that is in line with their faith is something that is very concerning and something that we are trying to urgently address.
Banks are the organisations in our community that we can trust with our deposits and our life savings, and so it is critical that those organisations are well structured, well regulated and have the right people to ensure that they protect your funds. We are building a first-class Islamic institution, Shariah-compliant from the ground up, so that everyone can be proud of the bank that we will create.
In creating the business itself, there is significant focus from government on how systems need to be put in designed to protect data, how staff are recruited and managed, and how we ensure that we are able to service our customers with the best possible experience when they bank with us. We are very lucky in that we have an excellent relationship with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, who have provided us with examples of best practice over past months. We believe in the importance of a well-regulated financial system, and so we always aim to be very transparent with APRA with our progress.
I joined back in 2018, and have spent the last four years working on this project to ensure that we can launch the bank as soon as possible. Things are now progressing very well; we are currently building to do a limited launch to about 100 customers, and the idea is that it is a bit like the training wheels for your bike –designed to allow you to test your systems with real people, make any changes required and then get sign off before you launch to the whole market. We are aiming to publicly launch the bank as soon as we can – hopefully in 2023.
In building the bank, we have already provided the government with more than 1000 pages of documents – everything from whistleblower policies to risk plans to financial forecasts – all of those documents which are needed in order to launch the bank. We’ve already leased our customer help centre in a location in Auburn, and we have our head office set up in Parramatta in Sydney – but we will be offering our services nationwide. It won’t matter where you are but we will be able to help you with Shariah-compliant banking for the first time, no matter where you are in Australia.
So whilst I know this is taking longer than expected, please rest assured that we are working incredibly hard to make this a reality as soon as we can. If you are not on our waiting list already, please add your name and email address and then our team can keep you updated as we move towards public launch. Or feel free to give us a call on the phone and will be happy to have a chat to you about what we are building!
We are now closer than ever before. We are incredibly grateful for the many messages that we receive on a weekly basis with best wishes from the entire Australian community. They keep our team very excited as we move forward with this important endeavour.
Thank you for your ongoing patience and we are looking forward to launching as Australia’s first Islamic bank inshaAllah as soon as we can!
Chief Executive Officer