Islamic services start brightly

B60bn deposited on opening day 

Wichayan Boonchote - Hat Yai

Krung Thai Bank's two Islamic banks in Songkhla

province attracted new deposits totalling more than 60

billion baht on Friday, the first day of business,

said Korkiat Wongaree, an executive overseeing the

Islamic services.

Three more Islamic branches, one each in Chiang Mai,

Chiang Rai and Satun provinces, are in the pipeline.

Apart from serving local customers, the banks are

likely to attract investment from the Middle East

destined for business in Thailand. 

Some oil tycoons from Bahrain had expressed interest

in lodging a total of US$400 million in joint projects

with the bank, Mr Korkiat said.

About 1,000 customers, mostly Muslims, had gathered at

each of the two new branches, one on Thammanoonvithee

Road and the other on Karnchanavanij Road, in Hat Yai,

Songkhla province, before the doors opened.

Mr Korkiat said he was confident that the branches

would attract more deposits because predominantly

Muslim Hat Yai is the economic centre of the country's

southern region.

The bank plans to open Islamic operations in Chiang

Mai and Chiang Rai in November and in Satun in


In the first quarter of next year, it plans to

establish an Islamic bank headquarters in Bangkok. By

the end of next year, it plans to open Islamic

branches in 34 other provinces.

The services cater for about six million Muslims and

other members of the public who are in favour of

sharing profits instead of receiving interest on


Krung Thai Bank also plans to open Islamic banks

overseas, targetting customers in Malaysia and the

Middle East.

``Encouraged by the success of Islamic banks in

Malaysia, we believe that we will be able to achieve

the same level of success [in Thailand],'' Mr Korkiat


``We estimate that deposits by Muslims in Thailand

currently amount to about 40 billion baht. We believe

that we will able to attract seven billion baht in

deposits from Muslims living in the country's five

southernmost provinces. 

``The bank may also be able to win back some of the

deposits made with Islamic banks in neighbouring

provinces in Malaysia,'' he said.

Preeda Mudmahn (30), a resident of Hat Yai, said that

she had been waiting for an Islamic bank for a long

time. In the past, she deposited money in savings

accounts since they did not emphasise interest


Now that the Islamic branch had opened, every member

of her family had opened an account.

Almost all Muslims in her area would make use of the

new service, she said.

Teerasak Suwanayos, the head of Krung Thai Bank's

Islamic banking service, said the bank's first Islamic

operation, which opened in Narathiwat in July, now had

1,600 deposit accounts totalling 25 million baht.

The Islamic services in Yala and Pattani each had

about 30 million baht in 1,000 deposit accounts.

Krung Thai Bank also offers Islamic banking services

at its conventional branches in the two cities.


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