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Banking sector’s role highlighted

The evolving role of Bahrain’s banking sector as a supporter of green financing was explored by Jean-Christophe Durand, chief executive, National Bank of Bahrain (NBB), in a wide-ranging interview he gave recently to Oxford Business Group’s online broadcasting channel, Global Platform.

In the broadcast, Mr Durand highlighted Bahrain’s status as a longstanding regional financial hub, which he said would strengthen NBB’s plans to further extend its reach into other GCC countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

He also emphasised the importance of ensuring that banks have the capabilities to service businesses operating across the economic sectors and of varying sizes, in line with Bahrain’s diversification drive.

“Of course, we support the large projects of government corporations and their endeavours within the framework of Vision 2030,” he told OBG.

“We need to be able to have the tools to address all these segments: retail, small companies, large companies and governments.”

The impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the banking sector was another topic examined, with Mr Durand noting that accelerated digitalisation and a broader product range were among the outcomes of the health crisis.

“We had to be close to small companies to help them to overcome the situation,” he explained. “We have started our journey with a retail app. The pandemic enabled us to review our business model, how we address clients and how we support staff as a national bank.”

Mr Durand added that the pandemic had also sharpened the focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles for banks and raised awareness of the contribution lenders could make to broader targets by providing green financing.

“We have a role to play to drive the agenda of ESG,” he said.

“For example, we have started lending for solar panels, for electric cars. I think an area where we probably need to bring more attention is on the environmental side, for clean energy.”




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