Banking in Iran - Money Safe Box

Go to content

Main menu:

Banking in Iran

Banking in ...
The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) was established in 1960 (1339 solar year). Aka Bank Markazi Jomhouri Islami Iran, is the central bank of Iran. It is entirely government owned. Among its major purposes are: maintenance of the value of the national currency (rial), balance of payments as well as facilitating trade transactions and contributing to the economic advancement of the country. The Central bank is in charge of laying and implementing monetary and credit policies of the country. The importation of goods, issuance of documentary credits and registration of orders for documentary bills of exchange for imports are also done in accordance with the policies of the Central Bank. It is a member central bank of the Asian Clearing Union. 

Commercial banks are authorized to accept checking and savings deposits and term investment deposits, and they are allowed to use promotional methods to attract deposits. Term investment deposits may be used by banks in a variety of activities such as joint ventures, direct investments, and limited trade partnerships (except to underwrite imports). However, commercial banks are prohibited from investing in the production of luxury and nonessential consumer goods. Commercial banks also may engage in authorized banking operations with state-owned institutions, government-affiliated organizations, and public corporations. The funds received as commissions, fees, and returns constitute bank income and cannot be divided among depositors
List of Banks in Iran List of Banks and Credit Institutions, Commercial Government – Owned Banks, Specialized Government – Owned Banks, Non-Government-Owned Banks, Gharzolhasaneh Banks, Non-Bank Credit Institutions

Islamic banking

After the Islamic Revolution, the Central Bank was mandated to establish an Islamic banking law. In 1983 the Islamic Banking law of Iran was passed by Majlis. This law describes and authorizes an Iranian Shiite version of Islamic commercial laws (as differentiated from a less 'liberal' Sunni version). According to this law, Iranian banks can only engage in interest-free Islamic transactions (as interest is considered usury or "riba" and is forbidden by Islam and the holy book of Qur’an). These are commercial transactions that involve exchange of goods and services in return for a share of the "provisional profit" called Mobadala.

In practice, Iran uses what are officially termed "provisional" interest rates, as rates paid to depositors or received from borrowers should reflect the profits or losses of a business. Under these rules, deposit rates, known as "dividends", are in theory related to a bank's profitability. In reality, however, these dividends have become fixed rates of return—depositors have never lost their savings because of losses made by the banks and almost never received returns larger than the provisional ex-ante profit rates. Interest charged on loans is presented as "fees" or a share of corporate profits. All such transactions are performed through Islamic contracts, such as Mozarebe, Foroush Aghsati, Joalah, Salaf, and Gharzolhasaneh. Details of these contracts and related practices are outlined in the Iranian Interest-Free banking law and its guidelines:

Gharzolhasaneh: An interest-free, non-profit, loan extended by a bank to a real or legal person for a definite period of time.

Joalah: The undertaking by one party (the jael, Bank or employer) to pay a specified money (the joal) to another party in return for rendering a specified service in accordance with the terms of the contract. The party rendering the service shall be called "Amel" (the Agent or Contractor).

Mosaqat: A contract between the owner of an orchard or garden with another party (the Amel or Agent) for the purpose of gathering the harvest of the orchard or garden and dividing it, in a specified ratio, between the two parties . The harvest can be fruit, leaves, flowers, etc. of the plants in the orchard or garden .

Mozaraah: A contract where the bank (the Mozare) turns over a specified plot of land for a specified period of time to another party (the Amel or Agent) for the purpose of farming the land and dividing the harvest between the two parties at a specified ratio.

Mozarebe: A contract wherein the bank undertakes to provide the cash capital and other party (the Amel or Avent) undertakes to use the capital for commercial purposes and divide the profit at a specified ratio between the two parties at the end of the term of the contract.

Shariah-compliant assets has reached about $400 billion throughout the world, according to Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, and the potential market is $4 trillion. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are at the top with the biggest sharia-compliant assets.

According to the IMF, Islamic banking forbids pure monetary speculation and stresses that deals should be based on real economic activity and therefore poses less risk than conventional banking to the stability of financial systems.
Banking and insurance in Iran

Following the Islamic Revolution, Iran's banking system was transformed to be run on an Islamic interest-free basis. As of 2010 there were seven large government-run commercial banks. As of March 2014, Iran's banking assets made up over a third of the estimated total of Islamic banking assets globally. They totaled 17,344 trillion rials, or US$523 billion at the free market exchange rate, using central bank data, according to Reuters.

Since 2001 the Iranian Government has moved toward liberalising the banking sector, although progress has been slow. In 1994 Bank Markazi (the central bank) authorised the creation of private credit institutions, and in 1998 authorised foreign banks (many of whom had already established representative offices in Tehran) to offer full banking services in Iran's free-trade zones. The central bank sought to follow this with the recapitalisation and partial privatisation of the existing commercial banks, seeking to liberalise the sector and encourage the development of a more competitive and efficient industry. State-owned banks are considered by many to be poorly functioning as financial intermediaries. Extensive regulations are in place, including controls on rates of return and subsidized credit for specific regions. The banking sector in Iran is viewed as a potential hedge against the removal of subsidies, as the plan is not expected to have any direct impact on banks.

As of 2008, demand for investment banking services was limited. The economy remains dominated by the state; mergers and acquisitions are infrequent and tend to take place between state players, which do not require advice of an international standard. The capital markets are at an early stage of development. "Privatization" through the bourse has tended to involve the sale of state-owned enterprises to other state actors. There is also a lack of sizeable independent private companies that could benefit from using the bourse to raise capital. As of 2009, there was no sizeable corporate bond market. Electronic banking in Iran is developing rapidly. The needed $70 million initial capital for the opening of each electronic bank as approved by the Money and Credit Council compares with $200 million required to establish a private bank in the country.

Types of financial institutions: About 80% of the country's wealth was deposited with state banks and the remaining 20% with private banks. Iran's financial institutions are:
Finance & Credit Institutions ("Tosse-eh")
"Gharzolhasaneh" Funds (Islamic non-profit granting funds -replicate many of the functions of smaller-scale credit providers)

Payment Systems in the I.R.Iran
Considering the double digit inflation rate and relative stability in the currency denomination, the recent trend of the payment instrument has gradually moved from notes to various kinds of cheques, particularly traveler's cheques. The introduction of modern payment instruments can be traced back to early 1990s where commercial bank of Sepah launched its Aber Bank Debit Card and ATM services.Since then almost all Iranian banks have provided their customers with the card payment services focusing on cards with debit function and ATM services to tackle the problem of heavy branch traffics.
The interbank card switch (SHETAB) was introduced in 2002 and now all card issuing banks in Iran are connected to the center; building up a uniform card payment network where all issued cards are accepted in all acquiring terminals.

Back to content | Back to main menu