The bank is planning to open several new branches across the country, including up to nine branches across the Doha Metro network.
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The Commercial Bank, which owns Turkey’s Alternatifbank (formerly ABank) has invested an additional $100m (QR364m) as part of its expansion plans in Turkey.
“Our branches at Doha Metro stations will be based on key traffic centres. We have won licenses for three branches and will be bidding from more. In addition, we are also expecting our 30th standalone branch to be ready for opening in the coming months,” Joseph Abraham (pictured), Commercial Bank CEO, told The Peninsula on the sidelines of the opening of the bank’s 29th branch at Doha Festival City mall on Tuesday late evening.
“Our aim has always been to ensure that we follow and meet our clients’ requirements. As they like to visit malls, and do shopping and banking at one place, we intend to ensure convenience for our customers and serve them better as the sector evolves.”
On credit growth in the local market, he said that the bank, as part of its strategy, is focused on increasing its loan book in proportion of its government and public sector, which is growing 14 percent annually. And also focusing on real estate sector in which it has large exposure.
Commenting on personal and SME-financing, he said that the Commercial Bank is committed to QDB’s Al Dhameen programme and continue supporting its SME clients.
Asked about the possibility of re-organising the exiting branch network as more people prefer to use online banking, the CEO said that as certain population clusters develop the bank will ensure that its branches are well located for easy access to its existing and potential customers.
“Overall the number of online transactions is growing up exponentially, while the number of people visiting the branches remaining constant. So we will continue investing on this,” said Abraham.
Commenting on the bank’s exposure in Turkey, especially at the backdrop of the weaker value of lira against the US dollar, he added that Turkey is a very important market in terms of its geo-political position, the size of the economy and population, and its importance to the Gulf region.
“Given the fast growing and expanding relationship between Qatar and Turkey, especially after the blockade, we are increasing our investments in the country. We have recently bought a head-office in Istanbul for $50m, which is to be opened formally next month. And we have also put an additional capital of $50m. This shows our confidence and commitment to the market.”
On the impact of the ongoing international trade war and rising interest rates in the US, he said: “There is volatility in the international market. Since the world is so globalised, so there is an impact… But the good thing is that the prices of oil and gas have gone up, and the fundamentals of the economy remain strong, especially in terms of its external balances.”
On his part, Amit Sah, Commercial Bank EGM, Head of Retail and Consumer Banking, reiterated that the bank already has very strong presence and will continue to grow and expand at several strategic locations, including malls and metro stations.
“Since most people now prefer to do regular banking transactions on mobile, we are focusing on other services. We would like our customers to walk out of our branches with a fully-activated Credit Card/Debit Card and a cheque book within 30 minutes, or even in lesser time as the technology advances.”
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