Japanese Banks Jump Into The Market

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is learning to speak Arabic.

The bank has just become the first Japanese lender to provide shariah-compliant products such as deposits, loans and trade finance solutions through an overseas branch, its newly established unit at the Dubai International Financial Center.

“This launch reflects the size of the Islamic finance industry and the fact that it is an area that is growing much faster than conventional financial services,” says BTMU’s regional head for the Middle East, Shichito Tobari. However, the bank will soon have to face the competition of two other Japanese giants: Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, which has already announced plans to open an Islamic window at its Dubai branch; and Mizuho, due to expand its London office, the group’s largest foothold in Europe, Middle East and Africa. As international lenders look for ways to tap the large pools of wealth and liquidity of the Islamic customer base, the field is only going to get more crowded.