Myanmar's best international bank 2020: OCBC
International banks don’t have an easy time in Myanmar under the eyes of the central bank and regulator, but Singapore’s OCBC has been one of the most innovative and adaptable foreign players since it set up office in 2015.
Driving the growth of the franchise is general manager Daniel Tan. One of his most prescient moves last year was to create a dedicated China desk, led by two bankers. Tan earmarked resources for the team to capture cross-border investments from the growing Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area. It completed a cross-border $10 million bank guarantee to a Chinese contractor for a bridge project in Yangon.
OCBC has industry expertise in education, healthcare, telecommunications and transportation. For the latter it supplied $7.5 million in financing for the construction of dry ports in Yangon and Mandalay — for a foreign-local joint venture project — and $10 million for one of Myanmar’s largest motorcycle distributors.
It also provided a $29 million cross-border syndication loan to finance 400 new telecom towers in the country.
The bank primarily offers services in cash management, trade financing and foreign exchange. Last year it created its first foreign-exchange forward so that customers can hedge the currency risk between dollars and kyat.
OCBC also arranged and led a series of deals in collaboration with domestic banks in 2019, including a $34 million club loan to finance an office building in Yangon, a $20 million club deal to fund a retail mall in Yangon and a $13 million loan for a leading Myanmar distributor of cement, diesel and building materials for the local market.
Among its other achievements last year was the completion of Myanmar’s first green loan – a $44 million refinancing for the construction of green shopping mall Junction City.
It is also pursuing socially responsible investment financing: to increase financial inclusion it supplied $35 million to microfinance institutions that provide financial services to Myanmar’s unbanked population.
OCBC has kept up with local banks in internet and mobile banking, launching its own smartphone app in 2018 just as the popularity of mobile and online services surged. Over the last two years, the use of its Velocity@ocbc internet banking platform grew 30% to cover 85% of its customer base, while 15% of clients have taken to its mobile app. The bank is ahead of the curve compared with some local competitors, incorporating facial identification, thumbprint and voice recognition technology.