Most economic experts view banking as one of the most important facet of financial and economic health. If the banking sector is weak in a particular country, then it may mean that its economy is also weak. While this may not always follow in all cases, a weak banking sector may mean that only a few businesses or individuals are putting their money in the bank or seeking loans from it. Everyone knows that the banking sector thrive on loans and investments, meaning it is using the money deposited to it by regular individuals and businesses to provide loans to other firms at a certain interest rate, or use that money to invest in what it perceives as a profitable venture. If nobody or only a few people are putting their money in the bank, where will the financial institution get the capital it needs to finance a loan, project, or investment? In the case of the Asia Pacific, it can be said that the banking sector in that region is one of the most resilient in the world. Among the banks in the Asia Pacific region, which are the strongest and what makes them tick?

Bank of China (Hong Kong)

Undisputedly the strongest bank among all other banks in the Asia Pacific Region, the Bank of China HongKong, or BOC Hong Kong, came into being after businesses of member banks under the umbrella of the Bank of China Group were combined after their restructuring. Its strength stems from many sources, among them the foresight of its officers in collaborating with finance technology companies (FinTech). It also has embraced blockchain technology to handle mortgage-heavy property valuations. It also utilizes blockchain technology to take charge of its growing number deals relating to trade finance. Another contributory factor why BOC Hong Kong is so successful and emerged as the strongest bank in the Asian Region is its strategic partnership with Alibaba, one of the largest online shopping services in the world, and Tencent, the biggest gaming and social network company in China and is now known as the most valuable public company in the Asia Pacific Region. Today, BOC Hong Kong is leading the way in terms of digital wealth management, mobile payment, as well as online financing.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (Macau)

Considered as the largest bank in the world in terms of loans, deposits, total assets, number of customers and the total number of employees, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited or ICBC, is one of the so-called Big Four commercial banks owned by the Chinese Government. It owes its financial strength through its aggressive utilization of global capital markets, as well as going on a massive spree of acquisitions and mergers not only in Asia but also in the North and Latin America, as well as African markets. It also set up subsidiaries worldwide to further boost its expansion on a global scale. As of 2017, their total asset is estimated to be at almost 4 trillion USD with more than 50 billion USD of those assets spread out in more than three dozen countries overseas.

HSBC Hong Kong

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd, or HSBC for short, is among the top three of the strongest banks in the Asia Pacific region. With headquarters located in the United Kingdom, HSBC has maintained a lot of influence in the Asia Pacific, mainly due to the numerous HSBC branches in the region as well as subsidiary banks under its umbrella. Known in some quarters as The Bank, Hong Kong authorities have been trying to lure its headquarters back to the Chinese peninsula following some worries that arose following the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. With an estimated total asset of more than 2.5 trillion USD, it is recognized as the seventh-largest bank in the world in terms of assets and has emerged as one of the top three strongest banks in the Asia Pacific region. Like BOC Hong Kong and ICBC, its strength lie mainly in the fact that its operating costs are low and has a lot of depositors from which it can draw its funds from. Its business interests also hugely vary from providing government funding to local and foreign governments, stocks, bonds, mergers and acquisitions, to setting up subsidiaries for various other business activities.

The individual assets of the three banks, in some cases, exceed the total cash reserves of a particular country. This just goes to prove how big and strong they are. The fact that the operations of these three banks are mostly centered on the Asia Pacific region already speaks volumes on which area or region they find very much profitable for their operations. With the continued economic boom in the region, it can be said that these banks will only grow stronger in the years to come.

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