Country Awards for Excellence 2020: Asia
There’s something hopeful about Afghanistan International Bank’s (AIB) name. The Kabul-based bank is very much a domestic lender, with 37 branches scattered across 11 provinces.
But while it has no international operations, it is outward facing. Its shareholders include the International Finance Corporation and it is the only Afghan lender able to offer international transfer services to most countries.
AIB’s systemic importance grew in 2019, when Standard Chartered withdrew completely from the market, leaving it as the only onshore lender able to transmit dollar payments to non-central Asian states.
And while it is the biggest fish in its own pond – no other domestic lender is more profitable, has as large a loan portfolio or has more assets and deposits on its books – it is far from being a default winner of this award.
AIB posted a profit of $610 million in 2019, up 21% over the previous year, with revenues up 14% over the same period. Fees from dollar remittances are a key driver of growth and earnings, accounting for 36% of non-interest income and 20% of total income last year.