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Serving Brunei through Islamic Solutions

Islamic Finance

When looking at the long and fascinating history of Brunei, the way in which it manages to combine the responsible infusion of Islamic Values, Real Economy and Finance is something that allows it to stand apart from the rest of the world. The Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam manages this with ease and confidence led by Mubashar Khokhar. We take a look at his firm and his achievements as he is named CEO of the Year, 2020 – Brunei

BIBD stands as Brunei Darussalam’s largest bank and its flagship financial institution. With over 900 employees and B$10.7 billion worth of assets under management, the team are proud to serve more than 216,000 customers, including retail, corporate as well as international clients. But this level of success is due, in no small part, to the efforts of those at the highest level, namely Mubashar Khokhar.

Mr. Khokhar has been a leading light of the organisation since his appointment in 2016. Alongside other responsibilities in the UAE, he has overseen the three year journey between 2016 and 2018 where the bank committed to becoming the first choice institution for employees, customers and stakeholders. It was an ambitious strategy, one which has paid off with BIBD receiving the accolade within Brunei Darussalam.

From this success, Mr. Khokhar is determined to see the bank aiming even higher, to make use of the momentum already gained. Now, the team are planning ways in which they can benchmark themselves against the best Islamic banks in the region, with a view to becoming the Best Islamic Bank in Asia-Pacific.

With many different offerings available, it’s paramount that the team at BIBD find ways of standing out as a unique banking identity. This has most easily been achieved through the team’s strong “Bruneian at Heart” values. BIBD is a bank for the people of Brunei, built by the people of Brunei. Its ethos perfectly captures the essence of inclusiveness of Islamic banking and the team’s commitment has always been to provide smart, safe and practical financial services and solutions to customers regardless of race or religion, supporting the ambitions of the Bruneian community.

Under Mr. Khokhar’s reign, the team has learned to constantly innovate in order to provide the solutions that people wish to see. 2018 saw the launch of the bank’s digital banking platform, BIBD NEXGEN, in 2018, and the team have continuously added to its suite of services, transforming it into a one-of-its-kind product that remains unique in the local market. 2019 saw the firm launch BIBD Wave – a near-field communication (NFC) mobile payment service on NFC-enabled Android devices. This was the first of its kind in Brunei, and has led the way to enormous success.

The achievements made at this stage have allowed the team to develop their comprehensive BIBD NEXGEN Wallet which is equipped with digital conveniences such as BIBD QuickPay for QR code payments, BIBD vCard or Virtual Mastercard, Mastercard Contactless and BIBD Wave. As a national leader in the field of mobile banking services, it’s clear that BIBD has a huge role to play in the evolution from traditional banking to the fintech age.

While Mr. Khokhar has made his name by creating a forward-thinking company, it is also outward looking. BIBD is currently the only bank in Brunei that serves all segments within the retail banking market, with the firm’s Household Bank Strategy, introduced for the retail banking sector, enabling them to capture more than 60% of the market. The desire for BIBD to provide a comprehensive range of products and services to all generations of the Bruneian family unit, and able to meet the needs of our retail customers at every stage of their life has been key to the firm’s continued success.

To serve the firm’s wide clientele base, the bank has opened seventeen branches at strategic locations in Brunei Darussalam’s four districts as well as the largest network of ATMs in the country, serving over a quarter of the Bruneian population. As the premiere Islamic financial institution in the country, BIBD is also committed to ensuring employees are equipped with the necessary Islamic Finance knowledge and skills to be able to serve its customers better. To date, BIBD has 20 employees certified in Islamic Finance Wealth Management and 66 employees certified in Islamic Financial Planning, enabling the bank to deliver highly proficient and informed services to clients.

The nature of BIBD means that it has become the bank of choice for Government Linked Companies (GLCs) and Corporates. The range of services that the team can provide are second to none, providing a comprehensive solution to any and all business needs. The impressive array of BIBD NEXGEN services also extend to corporate customers, with BIBD BizNet providing an array of features including bulk payment management for payrolls, making enquiries and checking transaction histories for Current, Investment and Financing Accounts, conducting transactions in multiple foreign currencies and to make donations, among others.

The challenge of COVID-19 has hit every industry, but what has encouraged Mr. Khokhar is that the values, ethos and commitment of his team have never wavered. He has led the team through the crisis by putting the health of his staff and his customers first and foremost. Most important to surviving this once-in-a-lifetime event was the establishment of a COVID-19 Task Force to ensure a coordinated and holistic response to the pandemic. This targeted approach meant that the team were able to offer a collective economic relief package amounting to BND250 million for a period of 12 months, which was very well supported by our Honourable Chairman and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance & Economy II.

Amidst the shutdown of public events and restaurants in Brunei Darussalam, it was BIBD that provided the vital assistance that MSMEs needed to digitise their businesses and establishing a strong online presence. Leveraging technology to bring communities together in a time of crisis is one of the most hopeful things the firm could do, encouraging a digitalised society powered by a cashless economy. MSMEs were charged nothing for this key service that has helped to keep the economy flourishing in the region.

With such a strong history of success in innovation, it’s not surprising that this approach will guide the next steps of BIBD. The mission for Brunei is to become a dynamic and developed economy by 2035, and this bank has a major role to play in that achievement. Obviously, the pandemic has forced digitalisation on many industries and businesses, and the team at BIBD is determined to embrace the potential of this new format. Mr. Khokhar has already put core teams into place that will carry out these plans and bring them to fruition. This includes the plan for the creation of a group-wide Data Warehouse Facility which is slated for completion in 2021. This core project that will feed all of BIBD’s future ambitions and initiatives. The digital step forward will include optimising the use of data and metadata – which will facilitate interoperability and resource integration.

Some banks are inherently stagnant, but the team at BIBD is nimble and agile in the extreme. They know just how to move in order to make the most of a situation. With ambitious plans ahead, and an eye already on the next move, it’s clear that they have found the ideal CEO in the form of Mubashar Khokhar.

For more information, please contact Adina Hj Azahari at www.bibd.com.bn

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