Banking in Azerbaijan
The Central Bank of Azerbaijan is the central bank of Azerbaijan which is charged with regulating the money supply, circulating currency, and regulating the commercial banks of the country. However, the banking system in Azerbaijan is small relative to GDP and ineffective in capital allocating. An estimated $1 billion is held in cash or outside the banking sector. There are approximately 70 foreign and local banks in Azerbaijan. Of the four state-owned banks, only the International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) was solvent in 1999. The IBA was in the process of being privatized in that year. Major commercial banks include Standard Bank, Unibank, Damirbank, AG Bank and others.
The central bank increased the minimum required capital for commercial banks to $1.5 million in 1999, and expected to increase the figure to $3 million in 2001 (the latest year for which data was available), effectively consolidating the sector. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand deposits — an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $363.6 million. In that same year, M2 — an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $738.5 million. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 10%.
The Baku Stock Exchange, known as the BSE, opened in 2001 trading short-term treasury bonds and the common stock of recently privatized state-owned enterprises. Trading volume in the first six months was just under $1 million. A regulatory framework for the new exchange is under development and is expected to conform to international transparency standards.
On March 6, 2014 Fitch Ratings released an assessment of Azerbaijan’s banking sector as being "broadly stable," although highlighted structural issues that should be addressed to improve the sector. Fitch noted that retail lending is a higher growth segment than corporate lending. Fitch also affirmed positive ratings on five different Azerbaijan banks.
- Barnett, Ryan (12 March 2014). "Fitch: Azerbaijan banking sector "broadly stable"". CISTRAN Finance. Chicago, IL, USA; Moscow, Russia. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
- "RPT-Fitch Affirms Five Azerbaijan Privately-Owned Banks". Reuters. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2014.