Thursday, August 17, 2017

World’s largest bank ICBC opens its Yangon branch office

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) opened its Yangon branch office yesterday, becoming the sole Chinese bank undertaking commercial operations in Myanmar.

ICBC has officially arrived in Yangon. Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw / The Myanmar TimesICBC has officially arrived in Yangon. Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw / The Myanmar Times

ICBC, which is the world’s largest bank, with a market capitalisation of US$240 billion, was one of nine foreign banks to be granted a provisional licence by the Central Bank of Myanmar last October.

The nine were given a year to secure the final green light from the Central Bank and open a branch office, becoming the first foreign institutions to operate commercially in Myanmar since 1963.

ICBC is the eighth bank to open. Only the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) still needs to open its office before the October deadline.

Foreign banks are limited to providing wholesale banking services to foreign companies and local and international financial institutions, as well as funding local businesses in partnership with local banks. Retail banking is off the cards, for now.

At the launch in Yangon yesterday, ICBC said it will offer a number of services including accepting deposits, offering loans and foreign exchange services, issuing payment instruments, guarantees and commitments.

It will also trade with customers in money market instruments, currency forward and spot contracts, swaps exchange and interest rate instruments, and will provide corporate advice, development financing, mortgage financing, and e-banking services.

ICBC was the only Chinese bank to apply for a branch licence, and is the only bank from China to have a presence in Myanmar at all, according to information from the Central Bank.

Banks already in business are The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Mizuho Bank from Japan, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) and United Overseas Bank (UOB) from Singapore, Thailand’s Bangkok Bank, and Malaysia’s Malayan Banking Berhad (Maybank).