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Israel’s First New Bank in Half a Century Seeks Poor Customers

Aug. 13, 2019, 9:31 AM

Eased requirements for bank formation in Israel will allow the country’s first new lender in nearly half a century to open in 2020, with a mission to serve low-income customers shunned by other institutions.

Ogen, a non-profit bank, will offer affordable credit to poor clients. One-fifth of Israel’s population cannot get affordable loans from Israel’s five largest banks, which provide 95% of all trade credit and 65% of all commercial credit, according to a 2015 Milken Institute report.

Ogen’s creation became possible after the Bank of Israel in June 2018 greatly reduced capital requirements for new banks and allowed them ...