ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – In a bid to modernize the country’s banking sector, Iraq’s largest bank on Sunday announced new loans allowing citizens and government employees to purchase new cars through installments.
Rafidain Bank, in a statement on its website, declared it would allow Iraqis to purchase new car models through five-year lease agreements, the first of its kind in the country. Iraqis are used to purchasing cars in lump sum cash payments, making the market somewhat unregulated.
The banking sector in Iraq remains underdeveloped. Earlier this year, the International Finance Corporation, member of the World Bank Group, announced it was launching a series of specialized workshops with the Central Bank of Iraq to raise corporate governance standards in Iraqi banks and strengthen the country’s banking sector.
The bank noted that a number of companies were partnering with them on the project, to match international standards, including United Auto Trading Company and Sama Al-Gharbya, two major commercial auto services companies.
Some of the companies specialize in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and American-made cars, the bank added.
In 2016, Rafidain Bank created loans that allowed Iraqi citizens and government employees to purchase cars through branches across the country. The bank has 165 branches in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region as well as Cairo, Beirut, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, and Amman.
It was nationalized under the Baathist regime, becoming a state bank, and was looted after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Nowadays, it has around 45 percent of banking assets in Iraq.