Noor Bank was established in the throes of the global financial crisis of 2007-08. Being a young bank, however, had its advantages. The crisis led Noor Bank to adopt ‘smart’ ways to establish itself as one of the fastest growing Islamic banks by offering progressive and forward thinking financial services. Noor Bank seized the opportunity to look at what it could do to deliver financial solutions that would enable customers to make the most of their financial assets.
Noor Bank serves as a different type of financial services provider for a new generation of customers who want to bank when, where and how they wish to. The bank’s growth strategy is based on a clear understanding of its customers. Noor Bank is a values-driven and principles-based financial institution with Shari’a compliance at the heart of its business decisions.
The rate of growth in retail business, in terms of volume, customer stickiness and cross sell ratios, has been impressive. In the first half of 2015 in particular, the consumer finance portfolio has grown by 18%, outdoing the industry’s growth rate.
Noor Bank’s consumer finance business has followed a comprehensive development strategy that has consistently kept the customer at the core. Accordingly, Noor Bank has developed a series of intuitive products to offer a bouquet of customisable financial solutions that meet varying customer needs, and have resulted in being acknowledged globally as winners. Some of these include:
Noor Bank’s ‘Best Rate Credit Card’, winner of the Most Innovative Islamic Credit Card (Best Rate Card) UAE 2015, offering customers one of the lowest profit rate of only 1.66% per month. Individuals can opt to transfer outstanding balances from credit cards with higher profit rates issued by other banks in the UAE.
Awarded the Best Islamic Bank for Personal Financing UAE 2015, helps customers to invest in their children’s education, start a business, buy a dream home, a holiday and much more.
Also the Best Islamic Bank for Auto Financing UAE 2015, promises to meet varied customer requirements and puts them in driver’s seat in no time at all. This product is based on Shari’a compliant Murabaha structure.
The philosophy of Noor Bank is summed up in its business purpose – “Noor Gets It Done”, behind which are five key strategic purposes:
- Make the customer experience a priority
- Understand customer behaviour
- Provide an integrated online experience
- Go mobile, where the customers are
- Personalise, Personalise, Personalise
An early adopter of mobile and online banking services, Noor Bank provides secure mobile banking solutions that address consumers’ wide-ranging needs and preferences through multiple modes (including text and browser as well as downloaded applications). Applying that deep insight to deliver online financial services that anticipate and satisfy customers’ personalised needs is critical to Noor Bank’s retail business strategy and future growth. Noor Bank appreciates it’s essential to aggressively move into the mobile channel where the next generation of users will be, as today’s wireless devices evolve into tomorrow’s wireless wallets. Among Islamic banks, Noor Bank stands out in this regard.
Consistently rethinking its relationships with its customers has allowed Noor Bank to build deep, loyal and sustainable customer relationships, which in turn has provided reliable and consistent earnings.
Sharing his thoughts on the bank’s progress, Hussain Al Qemzi, chief executive of Noor Bank, said: “Noor Bank’s remarkable journey in a short span of seven years stands out in the banking landscape of the UAE. As a Shari’a compliant institution, the bank fulfills the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the global capital of Islamic economy. Customer centricity and the ease of doing business with the bank through multiple channels have led to our rapid growth and success.”
In mid-2012, Noor Bank launched an innovative capital-protected investment product linked to gold, which delivered a profit rate of 16.5%, equivalent to an annual return of more than 11%. The note allowed customers to hedge against a drop in the gold price while protecting their capital. The capital-protected investment linked to gold is part of Noor Bank’s wide-ranging Islamic structured products platform that offers capital guarantee and higher returns than the normal deposit. With maturities from six months to three years, the treasury products can be customized to deliver upon a definite set of investment objectives.
In February 2014, Noor Bank rolled out commodity Murabaha service for all its Corporate and SME borrowing relationships. This service augments Noor Bank’s interbank online commodity Murabaha settlement capability developed on the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) platform earlier to support treasury transactions.
Islamic Factoring is another new product developed and managed by the Global Transaction Services (GTS) Division within the Corporate Banking Group of Noor Bank. The underlying strategic business objectives of the product are:
- To establish Noor Bank as a visible and professional Factoring Services provider.
- To use Factoring services as entry strategy for acquisition and expansion of MNC, large corporate and local business relationships.
- To position Noor Bank as a key player facilitating trade flows routed through UAE.
- Offer value added supply chain finance solutions
In addition, in 2013, Noor Bank launched its trade and SME brand, Noor Trade, and is on track to provide AED 1 billion in financing to SMEs by 2016 and is in fact the fastest growing segment of Noor Bank.
The Shari’a compliant Home Finance solution for off-plan properties aimed at non-UAE residents of GCC, and most G20, countries, which makes Noor Bank the only bank in the UAE to offer financing options on off-plan projects to non-residents.
Over the past seven years, by adapting and responding to changing customer needs, Noor Bank has been able to robustly grow its profitability as well as asset and customer bases across corporate and retail segments. Today, Noor Bank is rated A- by Fitch and has been the winner of various prestigious industry awards, locally and globally.
A major milestone in Noor Bank’s short journey so far was the issuance of its debut five-year US$500 million sukuk issuance in April 2015. It received an overwhelming investor interest from various geographies including the Middle East (54%), Europe (29%) and Asia (17%) wherein more than 45% of the issuance was allocated to European and Asian investors. With the final pricing of 2.788%, it became one of the lowest ever pricing by any Sukuk issuer in the UAE.
With the successful Sukuk issuance, Noor Bank joined the exclusive club of a select number of UAE banks who have tapped the global capital markets to fund their growth and it will continue to do repeat issuances in future. This issue will enable Noor Bank to diversify its funding profile as part of its ongoing financial strategy and will help to a sustainable funding and capital structure which will further support the growth of the Bank.