HSBC expanding retail banking business in China’s Guangdong province

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 April, 2016, 3:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 April, 2016, 9:04pm

HSBC Holdings, the largest bank in Europe and Hong Kong, plans to expand its retail business in Guangdong province in the coming years, with credit-card, securities trading and residential mortgage businesses in the pipeline, said Asia-Pacific chief executive Peter Wong Tung-shun.

Wong was in Guangzhou yesterday morning with group chief executive Stuart Gulliver and Greater China head Helen Wong to co-host the launch ceremony of HSBC Express, the banking group’s first train sponsorship programme. Under the deal, 11 of the 22 trains between Guangzhou and Shenzhen will be named HSBC Express.

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“These trains are for mass commute. The programme aims to bring the image of HSBC to the public as we are expanding retail banking in Guangdong, which would provide huge opportunities for HSBC in the coming years,” Gulliver told the South China Morning Post during the launch ceremony.

“While Hong Kong has eight million customers, there are more than 50 million Cantonese speakers in Guangdong. HSBC is very strong in retail banking in Hong Kong, which is a big part of our business. Retail banking would be our important business thrust in Guangdong in the years ahead.”

HSBC now has 64 outlets in Guangdong, accounting for a third of its 177 outlets in the country. The lender has traditionally focused on corporate banking on the mainland, but Gulliver said the growing wealth in Guangdong made it the ideal place for retail banking.

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“On its own, the Guangdong economy is the 16th-largest in the world. The middle classes are growing, and so is the demand for retail business services,” he said.

Wong told the Post that the bank’s retail expansion would include launching credit cards, which received regulatory approval last year. The launch date, however, has yet to be confirmed.

Securities trading is also in the pipeline. HSBC has set up a joint venture with the Qianhai authorities, becoming the first foreign company to hold a majority stake, of 51 per cent, in a securities firm trading stocks for customers all over China from the special economic zone. The Qianhai authorities earlier told the Post it expected the venture to begin operations this year upon regulatory approval.

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Wong said the residential mortgage business was another retail segment in demand, adding that the bank would also like to go into other wealth management businesses. “When people get wealthy, they like to buy homes. HSBC can offer mortgages and other wealth management services in Guangdong,” he said.

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He said HSBC would compete with mainland lenders by developing digital banking.

Gulliver said that with so many train and bridge projects linking Hong Kong with Guangdong, the interconnection between the two would be enhanced. This will provide huge opportunities for the bank.