Korea's best domestic bank 2017: Shinhan Bank
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Korea's best domestic bank 2017: Shinhan Bank

Shinhan Bank

Shinhan Bank, South Korea’s largest lender by assets and market capitalization, stands head and shoulders above the crowd. Its financials speak to the strength of the Seoul-based lender, which posted a bigger profit than any of its peers in 2016, for the seventh year in a row, thanks to a sharp rise in interest and non-interest income.

It also retained its top ranking in asset quality for the third straight year and boasts the lowest NPL ratio of any first-tier Korean lender, at just 0.65%.

Shinhan’s consistent outperformance continued into 2017, with the lender reporting net income of Won1.89 trillion ($1.7 billion) in the first half and net income of Won892 million in the third quarter, up 25.1% year on year.

Executives at rival banks grudgingly agree that it is the bank to beat in Asia’s third-largest economy. But it is Shinhan’s ability to take the long view that really stands out in an often insular sector.

That long-term approach was aided by a smooth succession at the start of 2017, with former Shinhan Bank CEO Cho Yong-byoung moving up to become chairman of the parent Shinhan Financial Group, while former head of Shinhan Card Wi Sung-ho became chief executive of the bank.

Many Korean lenders are looking overseas for fresh sources of growth and opportunity, but none more so than Shinhan, which operates through 150 channels in 20 countries. It recently opened branches in Sydney and Yangon, and purchased two local banks in Indonesia.

In April 2017, it bought ANZ’s retail business in Vietnam, gaining access to one of the region’s most vibrant emerging markets. It’s also one of the best domestic exponents of digital banking, recently launching a fintech startup programme, Future’s Lab, as well as digital kiosks with palm-print identification technology, and a burgeoning mobile banking platform, Sunny Bank.

In November 2017, Shinhan said it was planning to launch a bitcoin vault service, citing strong demand for cryptocurrencies in one of the world’s most wired nations.

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