Number of bank branches in Taiwan falls to 5-year low

Taipei, The number of bank branches in Taiwan fell to a five-year low at the end of 2017, amid efforts by the local banking industry to streamline operations in a saturated market, according to the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC).

As of the end of last year, there were 3,417 bank branches in Taiwan, the lowest number since the end of 2012 when it was 3,416, the FSC said.

Chuang Shiu-yuan (???), deputy director of the FSC's Banking Bureau, told the media that Citibank Taiwan, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank each closed two branches in 2017.

Meanwhile, Barclays Taiwan Cooperative Bank, First Commercial Bank, Bank SinoPac and United Cathay Bank each shut down one branch last year, he said.

Chuang said the FSC will be accepting applications later in May for banks to set up new branches, but they are likely to be fewer than the number closed last year.

This restriction is aimed at preventing further saturation of the local banking industry, he said.

Chuang said the FSC will again take applications in November and that 17 banks and 11 credit cooperative unions are qualified to set up new branches this year, based on their financial data.

According to FSC data, outstanding loans at banks in Taiwan amounted to NT$27.45 trillion (US$924 million) as of the end of March, up NT$183.8 billion from the end of February.

Non-performing loans reported by Taiwanese banks totaled NT$75.4 billion at the end of March, down NT$2.8 billion from a month earlier, the data showed.

As a result, the average bad loan ratio at the end of March was 0.27 percent, 0.02 percentage points lower than at the end of February, according to the FSC.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel