Israeli Banks Eye Haredi Customers

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Many, if not all, of Israel’s banks have exhausted their possibilities for local growth, analysts say. The future, they explain, lies to a large extent abroad and in expanded financial services.

However, there appears to be potential in sectors where until a few years ago most banks weren’t active – especially the Ultra-Orthodox. In recent years, banks have learned that speaking to haredim in their own language can bring in a lot of business.

It can’t be denied that the population is, for the most part, on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, with most families living under the poverty line. Their participation in the labor market is considerably lower than that of the general population. But the banks still see advantages in working with haredim.

“Generally, this is a very loyal, responsible population,” says Yaakov Tannenbaum, general director of the Mercantile Bank, which operates in the Ultra-Orthodox sector. “The average haredi won’t take on obligations he can’t meet.”

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