Kuwait: Best Domestic Bank 2020
Kuwait Finance House
Kuwait Finance House is the standout winner of this award, beating its great domestic rival National Bank of Kuwait.
KFH reported profits of KD251 million ($821 million) in 2019, up 10.4% year on year, with net operating income up 12.5% to KD454 million and total assets rising 9.1%.
A long-time leader in Islamic finance, Kuwait Finance House continues to head the pack with a network at the end of last year of 515 branches, scattered across the GCC region, Asia, Europe and Turkey.
Plans to buy Ahli United Bank last year – a move that would have cemented its dominant position in Islamic banking – have been delayed until the end of year, due to the pandemic. Assuming it is completed, the merger would create a giant with assets of more than $100 billion, making it the world’s largest Islamic bank, and the sixth-biggest lender in the GCC region.
KFH continues to invest in clean energy and digital. In February 2020, the Central Bank of Kuwait gave the go-ahead to fund the Clean Fuel Project, a $1.65 billion plan to upgrade the Mina Abdulla and Mina Al Ahmadi refineries, and to boost output to 800,000 barrels of oil a day. Kuwait Finance House also financed a KD350 million loan to Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, and strengthened its status as the leading market-maker for secondary sukuk.
On the digital front, KFH continued to embrace new and emerging technologies. It is using robotics to mitigate forex buy/sell transaction times, boosting efficiency in the process, and during the awards period, it launched KFH Xpress, a service for instant cross-border money transfer directly from a customer’s bank account.
The Kuwaiti lender has also emerged as a domestic and a regional leader in blockchain: in August 2019, it unveiled a cross-border remittance service called ‘Instant International Transfer’, using Ripple’s blockchain technology.