) - Banking and insurance in Iran Bank Melli
, Saderat and Sepah
''s three largest banks.
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.
Demand for investment banking services is currently 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Types of financial institutions
- 3 Islamic banking
- 3.1 Commercial banks
- 3.2 Derivatives market
- 4 Rates
- 4.1 Official "provisional" lending rate (aka "Mobadala")
- 4.2 Deposit rates
- 5 Banking assets and liabilities
- 5.1 Overdue loans
- 5.2 Summary of the assets and liabilities of the banking system
- 6 Banking reserves
- 7 Sectoral allocation of banking facilities
- 8 OTC market
- 9 Bond market
- 9.1 Participation papers
- 9.2 Sukuks
- 10 List of Iranian banks
- 10.1 Commercial government-owned banks
- 10.2 Specialized government-owned banks
- 10.3 Non-government-owned banks
- 10.4 Investment institutions
- 10.5 Presence abroad
- 11 Venture capital
- 12 Foreign banks
- 12.1 Foreign branches
- 12.2 Mainland activities
- 12.3 Free trade zones
- 12.4 Sanctions
- 13 Insurance industry
- 14 See also
- 15 References
- 16 Further reading
- 17 External links
History See also: Economic history of Iran
In 1960 the Central Bank of Iran (CBI, also known as Bank Markazi) was established as a banker for the government, with responsibility for issuing currency. In 1972 legislation further defined the CBI’s functions as a central bank responsible for national monetary policy. In the 1960s and 1970s, the expansion of economic activity fueled by oil revenues increased Iran’s financial resources, and subsequently the demand for banking services increased exponentially. By 1977, some 36 banks (24 commercial and 12 specialized) with 8,275 branches were in operation.
After the Revolution, the government nationalized domestic private banks and insurance companies. Bank law was changed under new interest-free Islamic banking regulations. The post-Revolution reduction in economic activity and financial resources required banks to consolidate. By 1982, this consolidation, in conformity with the Banking Nationalization Act, had reduced the number of banks to nine (six commercial and three specialized) and the number of branches to 6,581. Subsequently, the system expanded gradually.
In 2011, seven state-owned and private Iranian banks were involved in a USD 2.8-billion embezzlement case, which involved forging documents to secure multi-billion-dollar loans and purchase state-owned companies.
Types of financial institutions See also: Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran
As of 2011, 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")
- "Gharz al-Hasaneh" Funds (Islamic non-profit granting funds -replicate many of the functions of smaller-scale credit providers)
Islamic banking See also: Islamic banking in Iran and Islamic Banking
In 2009 Iranian banks account for about 40 percent of total assets of the world''s top 100 Islamic banks. Three of the leading four Islamic banks are based there; Bank Melli Iran, with assets of $45.5 billion came first, followed by Saudi Arabia''s Al Rajhi Bank, Bank Mellat with $39.7 billion and Bank Saderat Iran with $39.3 billion. “Iranian banks are still the predominant Islamic banking players, holding seven out of the top 10 ranks and 12 of the 100,” the Asian Banker research group reported. According to CIMB Group Holdings, Islamic finance is the fastest-growing segment of the global financial system and sales of Islamic bonds may rise by 24 percent to $25 billion in 2010.
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.
Derivatives market See also: Futures contracts in Iran, Iran Mercantile Exchange
and Iranian Oil Bourse
As of 2009, the Iranian Oil Bourse was a spot market for petrochemical products mainly, with plans to introduce sharia-compliant futures contracts for crude oil and petrochemicals in the future. Trading takes place through licensed private brokers registered with the Securities and Exchange Organization of Iran. With help of Bahrain-based International Islamic Financial Market and New York-based International Swaps and Derivatives Association, global standards for Islamic derivatives were set in 2010. The “Hedging Master Agreement” provides a structure under which institutions can trade derivatives such as profit-rate and currency swaps.
Rates See also: Inflation
and monetary policy in Iran and Riba
As of 2010, the interest rate charged between banks (i.e. interbank rate) is set by the government of Iran.
Official "provisional" lending rate (aka "Mobadala")
12.0% (2007), 11.5% (2008), 12.0% (2009). Free market rate is 24-25 percent (Aug 2009).
As of 2010, private banks have acquired 11 percent of the whole money market in Iran.
The provisional profit rates for term investment deposits in private banks and non-bank credit institutions for the year 1387 (2008–2009) & 1390 (2011–2012)
Term of Deposits Five-year Deposits Four-year Deposits Three-year Deposits Two-year Deposits One-year Deposits Special Short-Term Deposits Short-Term Deposits
Profit Rate for 1390 (2011) * (percentage)
|15 ||14.5 ||14 ||13 ||12.5 ||12.5 ||6-10 |
Profit Rate for 1387 (2008) * (percentage)
|15-18.5 ||15-18.5 ||15-18 ||15-17.75 ||17-17.5 ||15-17.25 ||10-16.5 |
* The range given covers the different interest rates offered by different banks. In 2010, for the first time in annual policies, the interest payable on bank deposits is similar for both state-owned and privately owned banks. For example, overnight deposits’ interest has been reduced from 12.5% last year to 9% this year. Similarly, 5-year term deposits will now earn 17.5% (per annum) interest, as opposed to 19% the previous year.
As of April 2014, the maximum interest rate for deposits of 90 days or less is set at 10 percent, the maximum rate for deposits of more than 1 year is set at 22 percent, and for other maturities the cap is set at 14 to 18 percent.
Banking assets and liabilities
Bank Melli, Saderat and Sepah are Iran''s three largest banks.
The total debt of 11 state-run banks to the Central Bank of Iran has exceeded $32 billion in 2009, showing a 10-fold increase over the past four years. Bank Melli Iran (aka National Bank of Iran), with nearly $9 billion, had the biggest debt followed by Bank Sepah, Iran''s oldest, with about $4.8 billion. Bank Maskan, Bank Keshavarzi, Bank of Industry and Mines and the Export Development Bank of Iran were next with the respective debts of $4.7, $4.1, $3.5 and $1.1 billion. Private sector banks had much lower debts. Bank Parsian, the largest private-run bank, owed about $421 million to the Central Bank. In addition, the collective debt of state-sector companies to the Central Bank has reached $25 billion (2009).
Overdue loans See also: Corruption in Iran
According to unofficial figures, overdue loans have reached IR175,000bn ($17.8bn, €13.6bn, £11bn), an increase of 75 per cent over three years (November 2008). Plan to inject about $13 billion to recapitalize the banking sector (2008). Ninety individuals have managed to secure collective facilities totaling $8 billion from Iranian banks, with previous $27 billion unpaid loans (2009).
In October 2009, Iran''s General Inspection Office informed that Iranian banks have some USD 38 billion of delinquent loans, while they are only capitalized at USD 20 billion. Current average for late debts of Iran''s state banks is over 15 percent while the global standard is 3 to 5 percent.
Summary of the assets and liabilities of the banking system
In FY 2004 the balance sheet of the banking system showed that total assets and liabilities were US$165 billion, an increase of 226 percent since 1976. In that year, bank assets were divided as follows: private debt, 34 percent; government debt, 16 percent; and foreign assets (90 percent foreign exchange), 22 percent. Liquidity funds (money and quasi-money) accounted for more than 39 percent of total liabilities. The loan-to-deposit ratio was 100.8% in 2011. In 2014 non-performing loan ratio was reported to be around 18%. By 2017, the government is required to pay $12.5 billion to domestic banks to settle debts.
Assets/Liabilities 2008/09 (billion rials)(1) 2012/13 (billion rials)(1)
|Foreign assets ||1,216,175.6 ||2,273,570.6 |
|Claims on public sector: ||235,940.9 ||910,354.4 |
|Claims on public sector - Government ||206,925.9 ||698,989.7 |
|Claims on public sector - Public corporations and agencies ||84,613.5 ||211,364.7 |
|Claims on non-public sector ||1,866,550.9 ||4,138,974.7 |
|Others ||1,208,222.0 ||2,992,062.2 |
|Sub-total ||4,582,487.9 ||10,314,961.9 |
|Below the line items ||810,382.2 ||1,345,559.4 |
|Total assets = total liabilities ||5,392,870.1 ||11,660,521.3 |
|Liquidity: ||1,901,366.0 ||4,606,935.9 |
|Liquidity - Money ||1,901,366.0 ||1,136,717.7 |
|Liquidity - Quasi money ||525,482.5 ||3,470,218.2 |
|Deposits and loans of public sector: ||335,620.6 ||407,779.3 |
|Deposits and loans of public sector - Government ||319,542.4 ||389,635.8 |
|Deposits and loans of public sector - Public corporations and agencies ||16,078.2 ||18,143.5 |
|Capital account ||244,659.0 ||574,643.7 |
|Foreign loans and credits and foreign exchange deposits ||610,550.4 ||1,373,864.5 |
|Import order registration deposits of non-public sector ||2.0 ||2.0 |
|Advance payments on letters of credit by public sector ||662.7 ||1,501.6 |
|Others ||1,489,627.2 ||3,350,234.9 |
|Sub–total ||4,582,487.9 ||10,314,961.9 |
|Below the line items ||810,382.2 ||1,345,559.4 |
(1) Excludes commercial banks’ branches abroad. As of March 2010, Bank Saderat Iran, Bank Mellat, Tejarat Bank, and Refah Kargaran Bank have been classified as private banks.
Banking reserves See also: Fractional reserve system
The ratios of the banks'' legal reserves in the Central Bank in 2009 were as follows:
- Current deposit: 20 percent
- Interest-free-loan deposit: 10 percent
- Short-term deposit: 17 percent
- One-year deposit: 17 percent
- Two- and Three-year deposit: 15 percent
- Four-year deposit: 13 percent
- Five-year deposit: 11 percent
- Other deposits: 20 percent
According to Article 14 of the Monetary and Banking Law of Iran, the CBI is authorized to determine reserve requirement ratio within 10 to 30 percent depending on banks’ liabilities’ composition and field of activity.
Sectoral allocation of banking facilities See also: Economy of Iran
In 2008, Iranian banks extended 70 trillion rials ($7 billion) to quick-yield economic enterprises. According to Article 14 of the Monetary and Banking Law of Iran, the CBI can intervene in and supervise monetary and banking affairs through limiting banks, specifying the mechanisms for use of funds and determining the ceiling of loans and credits in each sector.
Sector Share in total credits (%) - 2009 Share in total credits (%) - 2010
|Agriculture, water, and processing industries ||25 ||25 |
|Manufacturing and mining ||33 ||35 |
|Construction and housing ||20 ||20 |
|Trade and services ||15 ||20 |
|Export ||7 ||- |
OTC market See also: Tehran Stock Exchange
Since 2009, Iran has been developing an over-the-counter (OTC) market for bonds and equities called Farabourse. Its shareholders include the Tehran Stock Exchange Corporation (20%), several banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions (60%), and private and institutional shareholders (20%). As of July 2011, Farabourse has a total market capitalisation of $20 billion and a monthly volume of $2 billion.
In 2010, 5.5% of the Mobile Telecommunication Company of Iran shares were offered on the Iranian Over-The-Counter (OTC) market, at a value of $396 million. This was the largest IPO-to-date in the Iranian OTC equity market. In 2011, Pardis Petrochemical Co., the largest producer of urea and ammonia in the Middle East, Amir Kabir Petrochemical Co., Pasargad Bank, Yazd Alloy Steel Co. and Ravan Fanavar Co (a car auto part manufacturing company) went all public.
Bond market See also: Money and Credit Council and Iranian Rial
Participation papers See also: Musharakah
An important development for the Iranian capital markets was the opening of a fixed income market for the first time in 2009 with the issuance of term deposit certicates (traded OTC). The only type of tradable Islamic bond in Iran is the "Participation Paper". These are typically short term bonds (1–3 years) and have the same economic characteristics as fixed-rate conventional corporate bonds. For participation loans (known as Musharakat, and similar to project finance), the interest rate charged by the banks is dependent on the profitability of the project for which financing is required. Plan by the Government to limit the maximum rate at 20% (April 2011).
Profit and awards accrued to participation papers are tax exempt. The Central Bank must obtain approval from the Majlis in order to issue participation papers. As at 2012, regulations for fixed income instruments oblige that a market maker always buys back the papers from the sellers in the secondary market at par value if there are no other buyers present. With participation papers, at the end of the project the profit must be calculated and can then be distributed among the shareholders. During that time, dividends or interest can be paid.
Around nine billion euros worth of participation bonds in foreign currency and Iranian rials have been allocated for different projects in the Oil Ministry in 2010. Three billion euros will be allocated to the South Pars gas field and the rest will go to oil field development projects.
- Bank Mellat''s June 2010 offering of bonds worth 250 million euro overseas is considered the third stage of offering a total of one billion euro in bonds designed to help finance development of phases 15-18 of Iran’s South Pars natural gas. The bond has a maturity of three years and an interest rate of eight percent.
- New issues in July 2010 included $300 million of papers by the Tehran Municipality and $100 million of participation papers by the Ministry of Energy. The vast majority of these participation papers pay coupon rates of 2-3% above bank rates.
- Also in July 2010, Iran & Shargh Leasing Co. (the first non-bank entity to list a fixed income product on the OTC market) listed $8 million worth of participation papers.
- In August 2010, Iran sold about $500 million worth of bonds for the first development phase of the gas deposit. The three-year bonds, yield 16 percent.
- In November 2010, Iran will sell rial bonds worth $2.3 billion to finance the second development phase of its South Pars gas field. The bonds will be sold through Bank Saderat Iran, Bank Melli Iran and Pars Oil and Gas Co. Previously, POGC had sold $1.5 billion worth of papers for the same purpose. These papers pay a coupon of 16% per annum and have a tenure of 4 years.
- In November 2010 Keshavarzi Bank listed $100 million of one-year tradable certificate of deposit (CD’s) with an annual interest rate of 15%.
- Iran’s national budget for 2012-13 has envisaged issuing €12.5 billion in bonds for financing domestic oil projects.
For up-to-date amounts and list of issuing agencies, see here.
Publicly Purchased Participation Bonds by the Issuing Authority in 2010/2011
Issuer Participation Papers Purchased(billion Rials) Percentage from the Total
|Municipalities ||14,613 ||9 |
|Government Corporations ||70,841 ||45 |
|Maskan Bank ||71,351 ||46 |
|Total ||156,805 ||-- |
Sukuks See also: Sukuk
Sukuk is an Islamic Fixed income instrument, which looks similar to an asset-backed debt instrument. As of July 2011 and for the first time since the law was passed 3 years ago, Iranian companies such as Mahan Airlines and Saman Bank have respectively issued $30 million and $100 million worth of this type of bonds. Iran will also issue $15 billion in sukuk (Islamic Sharia-based) bonds in 2012 to be invested in the domestic oil industry.
List of Iranian banks See also: List of banks in Iran and List of Iranian companies
In 2010, The Banker listed 13 Iranian banks in the "top 1,000 banks in the world". In 2005 the Iranian banking system consisted of a central bank, 10 government-owned commercial and specialized banks, and four private commercial banks. In 2004 there were 13,952 commercial bank branches, 53 of which were foreign branches. Specialized banks had 2,663 branches.
Top 5 Iranian Banks - 2012 ranking
Bank Score (Iran) Score (Global) Banking Power/Capital Base ($ Million) Banking Power/Capital Base (% Change) Total Assets ($ Million) Total Assets (Score) Total Assets (% Change) Credibility/Capital to Assets Ratio (%) Credibility/Capital to Assets Ratio (Score) Performance/Return on Capital (%) Performance/Return on Capital (Score) Return on Assets (%) Return on Assets (Score)
|Bank Saderat Iran ||1 ||259 ||3,109 ||4.46 ||54,877 ||3 ||14.22 ||5.66 ||7 ||25.63 ||8 ||1.45 ||7 |
|Pasargad Bank ||2 ||266 ||3,057 ||147.7 ||18,057 ||8 ||47.41 ||16.93 ||3 ||20.69 ||9 ||3.5 ||2 |
|Bank of Industry and Mine ||3 ||310 ||2,550 ||-2.16 ||9,432 ||10 ||12.1 ||27.04 ||2 ||3.2 ||13 ||0.87 ||10 |
|Mellat Bank ||4 ||320 ||2,402 ||NM ||68,370 ||2 ||NM ||3.51 ||12 ||32.59 ||15 ||1.14 ||9 |
|Tejarat Bank ||5 ||350 ||2,103 ||13.6 ||45,188 ||4 ||18.65 ||4.66 ||9 ||27.14 ||7 ||1.26 ||8 |
Commercial government-owned banks
No. Bank name Bank name (in Persian) Year founded No. branches (Domestic) No. branches (International)
|1 ||Bank Melli Iran ||بانک ملی ایران ||1928 ||3,300 || |
|2 ||Bank Sepah ||بانک سپه ||1925 ||2000 || |
|3 ||Post Bank of Iran ||پست بانک ایران ||2006 ||400 || |
Specialized government-owned banks
No. Bank name Bank name (in Persian) Year founded No. branches (Domestic) No. branches (International)
|1 ||Keshavarzi Bank (Agriculture) ||بانک کشاورزی ||1933 ||1,900. || |
|2 ||Bank Maskan (Housing) ||بانک مسکن || || || |
|3 ||Bank of Industry and Mine ||بانک صنعت و معدن || ||65 || |
|4 ||Export Development Bank of Iran ||بانک توسعه صادرات ايران ||1991 ||34 || |
|5 ||Cooperative Development Bank/Tose''e Ta''avon Bank ||بانک توسعه تعاون ||2009 || || |
|6 ||Gharzolhasaneh - Mehr Iran Bank ||بانک قرض الحسنه مهر ایران || || || |
No. Bank name Bank name (in Persian) Year founded No. branches (Domestic) No. branches (International)
|1 ||EN Bank ||بانک اقتصاد نوین ||2001 ||145 || |
|2 ||Parsian Bank ||بانک پارسیان ||2001 ||160 || |
|3 ||Karafarin Bank ||بانک کار آفرین ||2001 ||52 || |
|4 ||Saman Bank ||بانک سامان ||2002 ||123 || |
|5 ||Bank Pasargad ||بانک پاسارگارد ||2005 ||296 || |
|6 ||Sarmayeh Bank ||بانک سرمایه ||2005 || || |
|7 ||Sina Bank ||بانک سینا ||2009 ||260 || |
|8 ||Ayandeh Bank ||بانک آینده ||2009 || || |
|9 ||City Bank ||بانک شهر ||2010 ||131 || |
|10 ||Day Bank ||بانک دی ||2010 || || |
|11 ||Ansar Bank ||بانک انصار ||2010 || || |
|12 ||Tejarat Bank ||بانک تجارت ||1978 ||1887 || |
|13 ||Refah Bank ||بانک رفاه ||1960 ||1128 || |
|14 ||Bank Saderat Iran ||بانک صادرات ايران ||1952 ||3300 ||30 |
|15 ||Bank Mellat ||بانک ملت ||1980 ||1820 ||4 |
|16 ||Hekmat Iranian Bank ||بانک حکمت ایرانیان ||2010 || || |
|17 ||Tourism Bank ||بانک گردشگری ||2010 || || |
|18 ||Iran Zamin Bank ||بانک ایران زمین ||2011 || || |
|19 ||Middle East Bank ||بانک خاورمیانه ||2012 || || |
|20 ||Gharzolhasaneh - Resalat Bank ||بانک قرض الحسنه رسالت ||2014 || || |
|21 ||TTBank ||بانک توسعه تعاون ||2009 ||420 || |
Investment institutions See also: Privatization in Iran
, Tehran Stock Exchange and Iranian Oil Bourse
No. Institution name Institution name (in Persian) Year founded No. branches (Domestic) No. branches (International)
|1 ||AminIB ||تأمین سرمایه امین ||2008 || || |
|2 ||EN Bank ||تأمین سرمایه نوین ||2008 || || |
|3 ||Pasargad Bank ||شرکت سرمایه گذاری بانک پاسارگاد ||2008 || || |
|4 ||Turquoise Partners ||شرکت سرمایه گذاری فیروزه ||2005 || || |
A number of Iranian banks have established branches abroad, several of which have been subject to program of consolidation. Thus, in recent years, Bank Saderat has acquired the Iran Overseas Investment Bank (from Bank Mellat), and branches of Bank Melli and the Bank of Industry and Mines in London to form Saderat International. In addition, the London branches of Bank Tejarat and Bank Mellat merged to form Persia Bank.
Venture capital See also: Tehran Stock Exchange, Science and technology in Iran
, National Development Fund
, Foreign direct investment in Iran and Intellectual property in Iran
In recent decades Iran has shown an increasing interest in various entrepreneurship fields, in higher educational settings, policy making and business. The government is supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in the public and private sectors as well as universities. Iran’s fifth economic plan (2010–15) has allotted $3 billion to the Initial Investment Technology Fund, which is designed to support new university graduates who want to develop their ideas and carry out innovative projects. The Innovation and Prosperity Fund was established in March 2011 to support knowledge base companies & foreign direct investment in Iran. As of 2014, Canton Hermidas Private Equity and Swicorp are the two foreign based private equity funds that have a focus on Iran.
Foreign banks See also: Central Bank of Iran, Foreign portfolio investment in Iran, Foreign Direct Investment in Iran
, Islamic Development Bank and World Bank
According to CBI, 5 offices of foreign banks (as of May 2012) operate in Tehran and Kish free trade zone.
Article 44 (fifth clause) of the Iranian Constitution Law had heretofore placed banking activities exclusively in the hands of government. In tandem with the Law on Usury Free Banking Operations, these two measures effectively blocked foreign banking operations from conducting business in mainland Iran. In 2009 the Constitution was to be amended to allow foreign banks to operate normally in mainland Iran.
Foreign branches See also: List of banks in Iran
The minimum capitalization for establishing a foreign bank branch in Iran is euro 5m. A handful of foreign bank branches and representative offices extant in the country were allowed to undertake administrative and coordination activities but were not permitted to open customer accounts inside the territory of mainland Iran, receive deposits or extend normative facilities.
Until now, foreign banks in Iran have acted as the bridge between foreign companies from the same mother country in the host country. Foreign companies learned of Iran''s economic and investment opportunities through these foreign banks in the country.
In 2010, the Iranian government lifted a cap on the percentage of shares in Iranian banks that can be owned by a foreign individual or company. The original law, which applied to both Iranians and foreigners, restricted the amount of shares in a bank that a single company could own to 10 percent and an individual to 5 percent. Iranian ownership of banks is still subject to the limits.
According to the new rules, only the Iranian government has the authority to form joint banks with foreign entities. Foreign entities can now hold over ten percent of the shares in joint banks with Iran but their shares cannot exceed more than 49 percent. Under the same provisions, foreign individuals and entities that have at least 51 percent Iranian ownership shall be considered Iranian companies.
For the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran is set to allow foreign banks to establish branches in the country and engage in normal banking operations.
In 2008, Bank Markazi (the central bank) formally officiated over the opening of Iran''s first foreign bank branch in the capital, Tehran. The Iran-Europe Commercial Bank, which is registered in Hamburg, Germany, but is majority owned by the Bank of Industry and Mines of Iran. The second foreign bank to be created in Iran was the joint Iranian-Venezuelan bank. As of 2010, similar projects exist with countries such as Russia, Belarus and Egypt.
In 2009, four US banks, including Citibank and Goldman Sachs applied for opening a branch in Iran. The banks made a formal request to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) to establish a branch. If the Majlis and CBI approve their request, these four banks will set up a temporary branch in an Iranian free trade zone. And if they can work according to the Iranian banking law (i.e. usury-free banking), they will also be allowed to open branches in Tehran and other cities.
In 2010, Tehran Times reported that the banks filing the requests for working in Iran were from "states in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East regions as well as Asia".
Free trade zones See also: Free trade zones in Iran
Foreign banks could operate in Iran''s free trade zone areas for many years and there are currently three such banks on Iran''s Kish Island in the Persian Gulf. Iran’s Majlis (parliament) has ratified the bill for the establishment of domestic-foreign joint banks and insurance companies in free trade zones.
Sanctions See also: Sanctions against Iran
The United States is attempting to isolate Iran from the international financial and commercial system in an effort to promote policy change in Iran regarding its nuclear program and purported terror financing.
In 2006, Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse as well as ABN AMRO and HSBC - decided to end their operations in Iran. UBS announced that it had stopped doing business with Iran because of the company''s economic and risk analysis of the situation in the country. UBS stated that it will no longer deal with individuals, companies or state institutions such as the Central Bank of Iran.
Bank Melli, Saderat and Sepah are Iran''s three largest banks. They have been hit with UN and US sanctions over the past two years, over alleged links with Iran''s nuclear and missile programmes (2008). Malaysia and U.A.E are also cooperating with the United States in implementing international sanctions against Iran.
Insurance industry See also: Privatization in Iran, Iranian Economic Reform Plan, Takaful and Insurance
The Central Insurance (Bimeh Markazi Iran) company is in charge of regulating this sector in Iran. Five state-owned insurance firms dominate the sector, four of which are active in commercial insurance. The leading player is the Iran Insurance Company, followed by the Asia Insurance Company, the Alborz Insurance Company and the Dana Insurance Company. Export and Investment Insurance deals with foreign trade. Insurance companies Asia, Dana and Alborz will be listed on the stock exchange in 2009 after review and improvement in their financial accounts, internal regulations and organizational structure nationwide.
In 2006 the market share for private insurance companies stood at 54% and 46% for governmental insurance companies. At the end of 2008, there were 20 insurance firms active in the market, only 4 of which were state-owned (with a 75% market share). As of 2014, twenty-five insurance companies are active in Iran and all, except one, are privately owned. Parsian Insurance became the largest privately owned company to be listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange in 2010. Parisan is the third largest insurance provider in Iran.
In 2008, the total insurance premiums generated in Iran were $4.3 billion. This is less than 0.1% of the world’s total, while Iran has approximately 1% of the world’s population. The insurance penetration rate is approximately 1.4%, significantly below the global average of 7.5%. This underdevelopment is also evident in product diversity.
Approximately 60% of all insurance premiums are generated from car insurance. There are about 14 million vehicles in Iran and 90 percent of them are insured (2012). Of the 10 million motorcycles that operate on Iran''s roads only 2 million are insured. Also, 95% of all premiums come from general insurance contracts and only 5% relate to life products (against world average of 58% for life insurance in 2011). One of the defining characteristics of the economy is entrenched high inflation (and expectations) thanks to persistent monetisation of fiscal deficits. This produces an environment in which no prudent person would enter into a long-term savings contract. According to Business Monitor International, unless and until economic policies in Iran change radically, the reality of the insurance sector will fall a long way short of its potential.
Blood money was $67,500 in 2011, down from $90,000 a year before. Starting in 2012, Iran is also insuring its own fleet of oil tankers.
Payout ratios have shown consistent growth over the years. Last year, the industry average payout ratio was 86%. Iran has 2 re-insurers. Insurance premiums come to just below 1% of GDP. This is partly attributable to low average income per head. In 2001/02 third-party liability insurance accounted for 46% of premiums, followed by health insurance (13%), fire insurance (around 10%) and life insurance (9.9%).
The Central Insurance of Iran is currently in the process of implementing some deregulation within the industry and migrating from a tariff-based regulation regime to a prudential based one (such as the Solvency regime), which is in line with the internationally accepted standards.
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