Asia-Pacific's largest and Malaysia's most successful Islamic financial institution, Maybank Islamic, is set to create another benchmark. Serving more than 4 million customers nationwide, the bank is taking the lead in growing the Islamic banking industry as it opens its doors to the global marketplace. Maybank Islamic corners up to 22 per cent of Malaysia's Islamic banking market, managing more than HK$188 billion in assets. It accounts for about 28 per cent of the financing domestic business of parent bank and Malaysian banking icon Maybank Group, whose legacy and credibility are reflected on its Islamic finance arm. Operating under an Islamic window licence since 1993 and as a standalone bank since 2008, Maybank Islamic has expanded to 16 dedicated branches and more than 390 Maybank branches in Malaysia. "We are a market leader in both deposits and financing," says Muzaffar Hisham, CEO of Maybank Islamic and head of Maybank Group Islamic Banking Division. "Our success has been fuelled by the government's support and clear regulations, as well as Malaysia's predominantly Muslim market. The next phase is to take this success into the international scene and help global customers discover the advantages of Islamic banking." These advantages include a broader potential investor base, especially for corporate clients looking to diversify into sharia-compliant assets such as sukuk or the Islamic equivalent of bonds. Such diversification could then further open up opportunities in other Islamic markets in Asia and the Middle East through cross-border investments. "Not only are we a fully universal Islamic bank, but we also cut across Maybank's three business pillars: community financial services, wholesale business and insurance or takaful," Hisham says. "The first objective is to offer an alternative to conventional banking. The second is to provide added value to our customers and stakeholders through our full suite of sharia-compliant financial products and services." Maybank Islamic sees Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei as key expansion areas, and plans to leverage Maybank's growing presence throughout Asia. The bank is slated to open a treasury services window this year at Maybank Hong Kong, where it aims to help with future cross-border investments. "We see China's economic growth as an opportunity for investors who may want to invest in China but want to look at Islamic finance as an alternative and potentially more rewarding solution," Hisham says. "For any business targeting the Asian market, the natural choice for banking would be Maybank Islamic because we are well represented in the region - ready to serve the customers."