The Sydney-based Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has opened two more rural branches in central China's Henan Province, bringing its number of bank outlets in the major farming province to three.
The two branches, located in the counties of Lankao and Dengfeng, were opened officially on Monday and Tuesday respectively, each having a registered capital of 30 million yuan (4.7 million U.S. dollars) and 50million yuan.
Rural banks would be one of the CBA' s priority areas in China, and CBA would not only bring capitals but also advanced experience and management to China, Simon Blair, head of International Financial Services of CBA, said at the opening ceremony of the Lankao branch on Monday.
CBA will speed up expanding its rural bank network in Henan, said Chen Qing, head of institutional banking of CBA's north Asia business, adding that the bank is aiming to have 10 rural branches by the end of 2012.
CBA opened its first rural branch in Henan in Jiyuan City in February this year.
CBA's branches in Henan offer lending, deposit and fee-based services to small- and medium-sized enterprises and business owners, said Chen.
"The establishment of CBA's branch in Lankao will help improve its backward banking business," said Li Fu'an, head of the Banking Regulatory Commission of Henan. Rural financing in Henan, a key farming province with more than 100 million people, is relatively undeveloped.
A report published by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) in January said China's reform of the rural financial sector had been slow, exacerbating the economic gap between rural and urban regions.
It also said the demand for rural finance in China had largely been met by local branches of large urban banks at high costs with high risks.
Founded in 1911, CBA, Australia's largest bank by market capitalization, entered the Chinese mainland market in 1994. It is the first foreign bank to gain approval to open a county bank in Henan.