Bahrain-based Arab Financial Services (AFS) reported net income in 1995 of $3.8 million, a sharp improvement on 1994’s earnings of $557,000. AFS says the rise reflects an improved commercial environment, which has prompted the company to re-enter the travellers cheque market after stopping the service in 1994. The board of directors has recommended a 5 per cent dividend, equivalent to the profits for 1995.

‘The strong growth in profit was partly due to improved performance in 1995 of the company’s three main business units: payments cards, bureau processing and wholesale foreign money,’ AFS chairman Abdulhadi Shayif said in a statement. Payment card issuances rose by 30 per cent in 1995, seven more institutional customers began using the bureau processing services, including Gulf Air’s frequent flyer programme and the volume of wholesale banknote trading rose 31 per cent in the year, Shayif said.

AFS relaunched its Visa travellers cheque service in February, after announcing its plans to re-enter the market at the end of last year.

‘In addition to our shareholders’ support, we have strong indications from over 30 financial institutions in the region that they will stock AFS travellers cheques,’ AFS acting general manager Mahmood al-Koofi said.

The travellers cheque business accounted for one third of the company’s activity in 1993, but the business was halted in 1994 as regional demand fell. This was mainly caused by the loss of two major markets in Libya and Iraq. However, the company says the market is now growing in other countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf states.