BEIRUT: Kuwait’s Boubyan Group has announced the launch of Nomo bank in the UK, as competition increases in the digital Islamic banking sector.

CEO Adel Al-Majed claimed in a Twitter post on Wednesday that Nomo will be the world’s first Islamic digital bank, despite Zurich Capital Funds Group in April announcing the launch of a new lender branded as RIZQ / BARAKA, which is claimed would be the first bank to provide all banking services online and according to Islamic law.

Digital banking has become increasingly popular in the GCC. Saudi Arabia gave licenses last month to two new digital banks, one of them is owned by telecom gaint, STC.

In the UAE, a survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last October, showed that 70 percent of respondents said they are actively searching for a new bank, and 87 percent said they would be willing to open an account with a branchless digital-only lender.

Nomo will operate through Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME) and its launch is subject to approval by British regulatory authorities.

Boubyan Bank customers in Kuwait and the wider region will also be able to open accounts and manage all their banking operations through the Nomo Bank application, which is currently in the initial operating stage, Al-Majed said.

Other services will include current accounts in pounds and dollars, direct debit cards, bank transfers and fixed-term deposits in different currencies, he added.

RIZQ / BARAKA launched in the UAE but aims to target customers in the Middle East and North Africa and said in April it aims to scale up its operations worldwide via strategic partnerships with banks and financial institutions in India, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the UK, Australia, Brazil and Mauritania.

Earlier this year, Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar also announced that he is to lead a new digital bank set to be launched soon in the UAE.

Zand is being billed as “the world’s first combined digital corporate and retail bank,” and is going through final approvals ahead of its launch.

Alabbar, founder of Emaar Properties — the Dubai developer behind The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa — teamed up with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to launch the Noon online shopping platform in 2017. He will take on the role of chairman of Zand.

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