CARD Bank Inaugurates First Islamic Banking Branch in Cotabato City

Posted on January 29, 2024
Written By: Jeffrey Tandingan

CARD MRI officers, staff, and clients with BARMM community leaders gather for the inauguration of CARD Bank, the first Islamic banking branch in the country on January 22, 2024, in Cotabato City. Pictured here are (from left to right in front) the Ministry of Trade, Investment, and Tourism Deputy Minister and Bangsamoro Economic Zone Authority OIC Deputy Executive Director Atty. Sukarno A. Abas; BBOI Chairperson Mohamad Omar Pasigan; BARMM Senior Minister Abunawas L. Maslamama; and Islamic Banking Supervisory Group of BSP Manager Atty. Normina Datudacula. It was also joined by (from right to left at the back) BBOI Board Governor Datu Habib S. Ambolodto and CARD MRI Founder and Chairperson Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip.


In a groundbreaking move, CARD Bank, Inc. a microfinance-oriented rural bank under CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI), opened the first Islamic banking branch in Cotabato City on January 22, 2024. This event is an important milestone in providing inclusive financial services to the local Muslim community.

As of September 23, 2023, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reveals that a significant section of unbanked communities comes from Mindanao, particularly the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The establishment of this Islamic branch aims to serve the unbanked and underbanked population to strengthen the economy of the Muslim-dominated region while providing ethical Shariah-compliant financial services.

Key officers from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, BARMM Government, Bangsamoro Board of Investments (BBOI), and local government officials, who attended the grand opening, expressed their full support for CARD Bank’s commitment to diversify its services and meet the financial needs of the entire community.

According to Mohamad Omar Pasigan, Chairman of the Bangsamoro Board of Investment, “This day marks a significant milestone in the banking sector across the Philippines. BARMM takes pride in the opening of the first-ever Islamic Bank in the country. After extensive deliberations and numerous series of meetings, we have turned this vision into reality. I hope this is just the beginning, and we will continue to expand to other Islamic cities.”

In addition, Atty. Normina Datadacula, the Manager of Islamic Banking Supervisory Group of BSP said, “Today’s event truly marks another milestone in the country’s commitment to developing the Islamic finance ecosystem. Since the enactment of the Islamic Banking Law, the BSP has laid down the regulatory reforms to promote the growth of Islamic Banking in the Philippines, and CARD Bank has responded to the demands of times. As you begin your Islamic banking journey, rest assured that the BSP will be your steadfast partner, continuously issuing and enabling regulation to expand Islamic banking and finance in the country. May this opening ceremony be an impetus of more great things to come.”

Islamic banking and finance are inclusive, offering much-needed financial products and services to help Muslim communities start and expand their enterprises and livelihoods. This move by CARD Bank is anticipated to inspire other financial institutions to explore providing diverse financial options to Muslim communities.

Islamic Banking for Financial Inclusion

The new Islamic branch strictly adheres to Shariah-compliant banking principles, offering a wide range of financial products and services aligned with Islamic finance principles. This includes Wadiah Deposits accounts such as Wadiah Basic Savings, Wadiah Regular Savings, and Wadiah ATM Savings, Term Investment Deposit under “Mudharabah”, Micro-Agri Financing and Micro-Enterprise Financing under “Murabahah” or “Musharakah” contract, Supplemental Commodity Financing under “Murabahah 2”, all in compliance with Islamic finance law.

According to CARD Bank President and CEO Ms. Marivic M. Austria, “CARD Bank’s strategic move to open an Islamic banking branch aims to provide the Muslim community in Cotabato City and BARMM with accessible and culturally sensitive financial solutions. This initiative aligns with the goal of promoting financial inclusion and creating opportunities for economic empowerment of all people, irrespective of their faith and belief.”

Collaboration with Islamic Financial Experts

To ensure the seamless integration of Islamic banking practices, CARD Bank collaborated with experienced Islamic financial consultants. Its staff and key officers underwent training in Indonesia to understand and implement the correct principles of Islamic banking and financing.

This collaboration with Islamic law experts ensures that  CARD Bank’s delivery of high-quality financial products and services is responsive to the needs of Muslim communities and at the same time, respectful of their culture and beliefs.

Islamic Branch and Technology

The Islamic branch of CARD Bank is located in Sinsuat Avenue, Rosary Heights VI9600, Cotabato City.  The bank’s design is culturally sensitive,  with an Islamic prayer room that clients may conveniently use for contemplation and worship. It is also equipped with the latest technologies to provide an efficient banking experience. Clients can expect digital banking services, including the mobile banking application konek2CARD, which enables them to manage accounts and conduct transactions easily using their Android mobile phones.