The Turkish state-run Ziraat Bank was granted a banking license by the Central Bank of Azerbaijan on Tuesday. The banking sector in Azerbaijan experienced high growth rates in 2013, according to a report released by the World Bank in October 2014. However, Azerbaijan's financial penetration indicator remains one of the lowest in Europe and Central Asia, the report said, and this offers a clear market opportunity to Ziraat Bank.
Ziraat Bank employs more than 24,000 people in 1,700 branches. There are 57 branches in foreign countries such as Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Russia, the U.K., the U.S., Georgia, Bulgaria and Greece. Separately, on Oct. 15 this year, Ziraat Bank received permission from the Turkish banking regulator to set up a bank working on Islamic financial principles. The Central Bank of Azerbaijan is continuing its reform of the sector, recently introducing a new legal and regulatory framework for consumer protection and financial literacy, as well as risk-based supervision, according to the World Bank report.