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Tuesday January 2, 2007

Beijing okays postal savings bank



BEIJING: China has formally approved the setting up of a new postal savings bank, setting the stage for the transformation of China Post's vast network of savings accounts into an independent financial institution.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said on its website that the new bank would be fully owned by the China Post Group, an entity recently carved out of the State Post Bureau to carry out its business functions.

The new bank would concentrate on retail banking and intermediary services, serving both urban and rural residents but with particular emphasis on the latter, the agency said.

To that end, the bank would set up a department specifically for rural financial services, the CBRC said, adding that the bank would work with policy banks and rural credit cooperatives to improve the coverage and quality of rural finance.

The CBRC did not disclose any financial details on the new bank, but state media reported earlier that the postal system had deposits worth 1.5 trillion yuan (US$192bil) at the end of June 2006, which would make it the country's fifth largest lender by deposits.

China Post had already begun to expand the services offered through its 36,000 post offices in preparation for the bank's creation, setting up a pilot programme for small-scale loans in several provinces last year. Previously, it did not offer loans. – Reuters

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