Dec 1 Kazakhstan's central bank is considering
halving the capital requirement for Islamic banks to 5 billion
tenge ($16.3 million) from 10 billion tenge, part of a series of
initiatives to attract foreign capital to Central Asia's largest
The majority Muslim state is keen to develop Islamic
finance, a sector that currently holds less than 1 percent of
total banking assets, according to a Thomson Reuters study
released on Tuesday.
A proposed reduction in capital requirements for Islamic
banks would apply for both local and foreign investors, deputy
governor Nurlan Kussainov was quoted as saying in the study.
This could encourage new entrants in a market that now has
one full-fledged Islamic bank, Al Hilal Islamic Bank, which
holds less than 1 percent of total banking assets.
"Large banking groups such as Al Baraka and Maybank are
showing interest in our market," Kussainov said, referring to
Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group and Malaysia's
Maybank Islamic Berhad.
The central bank also plans to introduce insurance for
Islamic deposits and allow conventional banks to establish
Islamic windows, Kussainov said.
Legislative amendments have also been approved last month to
allow the conversion of conventional banks into Islamic ones,
which would come into force in January, he added.
Kussainov reiterated plans by the government to sell
sovereign Islamic bonds, or sukuk, early next year, although he
did not specify a size for the issuance.
($1 = 307.5100 tenge)
(Reporting by Bernardo Vizcaino; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)