Mr. Barzani outlined the need for an improved banking sector in Kurdistan. He said,
“I believe the time has come for us to seriously examine international financial practices and carefully consider how modern banking can help families and businesses to manage their wealth … I have no doubt that the presence of Standard Chartered will help us move forward in this regard.”
The bank is one of a small number of foreign lenders with operations in Iraq, which is experiencing rapid oil-fuelled economic growth. Standard Chartered opened its country head office and first branch last November in Baghdad's banking district, on a street lined with blast walls and patrolled by guards with Kalashnikov rifles.
Mr. V. Shankar, the Standard Chartered CEO for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, said the company comes “with glitter in our eyes” and stated his optimism for the bank’s activity in the Region.
Kurdistan is relatively peaceful by contrast, and the autonomous region's main cities are full of cranes and construction sites. The bank also plans to open another branch in the southern oil hub of Basra later in 2014.
Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Iraq Gavin Wishart told Reuters that the business environment in Kurdistan was "progressive" and described the pace of development as "encouraging".