China has four of the top 10 largest banks in the world: the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the China Construction Bank, the Bank of China and the Agricultural Bank of China. The fifth-largest bank in China, the China Development Bank, falls outside of the top 10 banks in the world, but well within the top 20.
China’s banking system has undergone major changes, allowing it to operate significantly more like Western banks. However, the banking system is still controlled tightly by the government. China’s central bank is the People’s Bank of China, or PBOC, responsible for the planning and implementation of China’s monetary policy. The PBOC maintains all of the banking sector’s clearing, payment and settlement systems, in addition to overseeing the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE, that establishes foreign exchange policies. China's banking system continues to expand, reflecting China's increasing position in global finance.
Industrial & Commercial Bank of China
The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, or ICBC, is the largest multinational bank company in the world as measured by total assets, over $3 trillion as of 2014. It was established in 1984 as a limited company and is the first Chinese bank ever recognized as the world’s largest.
In 2006, ICBC had the world’s largest initial public offering, or IPO, with a value of over $21 billion. The record was subsequently broken in 2010 by the Agricultural Bank of China. The IBC was the first company to ever be listed simultaneously on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
ICBC officially opened a branch in Kuwait in 2014, the first and only Chinese bank there. It is the fourth branch of the bank in the Middle East, which also has branches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The opening of this branch served to advance the bank’s service network in the Middle East and is considered a significant accomplishment in the bank’s strategy to expand operations internationally.
China Construction Bank
The China Construction Bank, or CCB, was ranked in 2015 as the fourth largest in the world in terms of market capitalization of nearly $2 trillion. It operates nearly 14,000 branches, with established international branches in Luxembourg, South Africa, South Korea, the United States and Australia.
The bank was founded in 1954 as the People’s Construction Bank of China, changing its name in 1996. Bank of America obtained a 9% stake in the bank in 2005, facilitating the bank's continuing rapid growth. The Luxembourg branch was opened in 2013 and serves as the bank’s European headquarters.
Bank of China
The Bank of China, or BOC, was established in 1912 to replace the Imperial Bank of China and is the oldest remaining bank in mainland China. In 2009, the bank was recognized as the second-largest loan provider in China. As of 2015, it was the fifth-largest bank in the world in terms of market capitalization of approximately $1.5 trillion.
The BOC is considered the most international of all China’s banks as it has a branch in every inhabited continent in the world. It operates in more than 20 countries including Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. In 2010, the BOC branch in New York offered renminbi products to Americans, the first major Chinese bank to make such products available in the U.S.
Agricultural Bank of China
The Agricultural Bank of China, or ABC, was founded in 1951 and established its headquarters in Beijing. It has numerous branches throughout mainland China and in London, New York, Sydney and Tokyo. The bank has over 300 million retail customers, nearly 3 million corporate clients and almost 25,000 branches around the world. In terms of lending, ABC is the world’s third-largest provider. As of 2014, ABC was ranked by Forbes as one of the top 10 largest and most valuable companies in the world.