Japan's best bank for SMEs 2019: SMBC
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Japan's best bank for SMEs 2019: SMBC


The truth is that domestic banking of small and medium-sized enterprises is not a core priority for any of the megabanks – it is to a large extent still served on the ground by regional and local banks – but SMBC shows the clearest sense of direction among the top three.

First-quarter numbers show that the average loan balance to medium-sized corporations and SMEs at SMBC grew modestly to Y17.6 trillion ($162 billion), which makes it the largest constituent of the domestic loan balance, ahead of large corporations and individuals. Though the domestic corporate loan spread to SMEs has been steadily falling, given the interest rate environment, it is still above that of large corporations. SMBC has said it expects the loan spread decline in this area to bottom out during this financial year.

Outside Japan, the Asian Development Bank and SMBC signed an agreement in April to promote over $100 million of trade across developing Asia annually. This is an attempt to facilitate trade flows at a time when they are under pressure from macroeconomic developments.

SMBC is present in 14 Asian countries, and trade and supply-chain work in the region is central to its strategy. SME banking is a large part of the combined SMBC/BTPN business in Indonesia, for example.

The agreement follows the launch of a new loan product by SMBC in October 2018 designed to promote sustainable development goals (SDGs) at SMEs. The loan includes a subsidy that partially pays the credit guarantee fee of clients if they have prepared a management plan that covers the SDG initiatives. During the term of the loan, SMBC also provides support to clients.