Bank of China, the mainland's second-largest lender, said its international settlement operations passed the US$1 trillion mark last year, setting a global record for commercial banks.
The state-owned bank said yesterday on its website that its international settlements business, both on the mainland and overseas, totalled US$1.4 trillion last year. It did not give a comparative figure for the previous year.
'It is not surprising to see the international settlements business increase at such a fast pace in light of the mainland's rapidly growing economy,' said Margaret Lee Man-yuen, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong)'s regional head of financial institutions business in Greater China and Japan.
International settlements is a payment service dealing in foreign exchange, including trade payments, foreign exchange trading settlements and payments for investments.
BOC said it held a 30 per cent market share on the mainland.
International settlements conducted on the mainland increased by 20 per cent last year to US$603.5 billion, while trade financing for corporate customers in foreign currencies and in yuan jumped 32 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively, the bank said.
ICBC (Asia) deputy general manager Stanley Wong Yuen-fai said on a country-by-country basis, the United States and the eurozone accounted for the largest international settlements volume, given the size of their economies.
Mr Wong noted that there were many banks in the business, so market share was widely dispersed.
On the mainland, BOC surpasses its international counterparts in part because the bank used to specialise in foreign exchange.
'There could be a lot of international payments, including payments by government entities, conducted through the bank's network,' Mr Wong said.
The mainland's robust economy also contributed to the growth of international settlements, he added.
CCB International analyst Bonnie Lai said BOC would benefit from the growth in fee income from increased international settlements if commission rates remained unchanged.