Awards recognizing the strongest banks in China, as Chinese bankers take leading roles on the global stage.
City Commercial Bank
China’s city commercial banks often must take bold steps to move beyond the geographical area where they began. Harbin Bank, based in China’s far northeast, chose to build its business model on lending to the private sector rather than state-owned enterprises. Such lending takes more skill and comes with more risk but can offer higher returns and is ultimately more sustainable. The bet appears to be paying off. Harbin Bank launched a successful IPO in Hong Kong in 2014 and is now the fourth-largest city commercial bank in China.
MyBank, the virtual banking arm of Ant Financial, opened in June 2015 and has garnered much attention in the 15 months since for its innovative approach to small lending, much of which flows to e-commerce merchants on the Alibaba marketplace. MyBank extends small, short-term loans to small companies to assist in business development. In its short time of operation, the bank has extended loans to more than 800,000 small businesses and is extending its reach through its mobile app, which was launched in the spring.
Postal Savings Bank of China
Until recently, Postal Savings Bank of China has received much less attention from investors than the country’s other large, nationally owned banks. Operating through China’s postal network, the bank has focused historically on increasing access to banking services throughout the country, especially in rural areas. In preparation for its recent IPO, however, the bank has turned its attention to improving efficiency and profitability across its vast network, which already counts more domestic branches than any other Chinese bank. The bank listed in Hong Kong in September, the largest IPO of the year.
China Cinda Asset Management
China Cinda Asset Management has historically played a precarious role in the Chinese financial system. The company was one of four asset management companies set up by the central government to buy bad loans from the country’s banks. This background contributed to the asset management company’s sensitivity to risk and its sophistication in minimizing it. In recent years, the company has diversified its product line while taking on experienced investors such as UBS, Standard Chartered and Citic Securities.
Consumer Credit Card Program
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Through its massive network of branches, its innovative approach to mobile payments and point-of-sale transactions, and its general popularity with Chinese consumers, ICBC has become the world’s largest issuer of credit cards, with more than 117 million in circulation. In the first half of this year, card transactions for the bank totaled almost Rmb1.4 trillion ($210 billion). The bank has inspired almost a million merchants across the country to install POS terminals, and introduced cellphone-based credit cards and QR code scanning.