UAE-based private equity company Gulf Islamic Investments has fully acquired Anglo-Gulf Trade Bank (AGTB), a digital trade finance lender, from Mubadala Investment Company for an undisclosed sum.
AGTB is a digital bank licensed by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of the Abu Dhabi Global Market, and is described as the world’s first digitally enabled trade bank, GII said on Wednesday.
ATGB is a joint venture between AGTB Holdings, a Rowland family-controlled company, and Mubadala.
It aims to address a growing gap in the trade finance market and support commerce between companies in the Middle East, the UK and Asia through blockchain technology.
Digital banks have become more popular, largely driven by an increasingly technology-savvy customer base and increased preference for online banking after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Digital-only banks are not a new concept in the UAE. In the first half of 2017, Emirates NBD launched Liv. bank, which is aimed at millennials. Mashreq, Dubai’s oldest lender, also unveiled Mashreq Neo in the same year.
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, the biggest Sharia-compliant lender in the emirate, set up a digital-only bank called Amwali last year to tap into the UAE’s growing segment of technology-savvy youths.
However, independent digital banks are also entering the market, including Al Maryah Community Bank, which secured a licence from the UAE Central Bank in April last year.
This was followed by the launch of the UAE’s first independent digital bank, Zand, which caters to retail and corporate clients.
The latest digital bank to receive in-principle approval in the region is Wio, whose shareholders consist of Abu Dhabi holding company ADQ, investments holding company Alpha Dhabi, e& (formerly Etisalat) and First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE’s largest lender by assets.
The total capital invested in Abu Dhabi-based Wio is Dh2.3 billion ($626 million), plus “in-kind contribution”, ADQ said earlier this year. ADQ and Alpha Dhabi hold a controlling stake of 65 per cent while e& holds 25 per cent. FAB has the remaining 10 per cent.