Half-year results from some of China's biggest banks have revealed a significant drop in the pace of profit growth, suggesting that their borrowers are struggling to meet loan repayments as the economy weakens.
Industrial & Commercial Bank of China said on Thursday that its net profit in the first half rose by 0.6 percent to 149.02 billion yuan ($23.27 billion), compared with seven percent growth for the same period in 2014 and 1.4 percent growth for the first quarter.
Agricultural Bank of China reported profit growth of 0.3 percent to 104.32 billion yuan, compared with 13 percent for the same period last year and 1.3 percent in the first quarter. And Bank of Communications revealed profit growth of 1.5 percent to 37.32 billion yuan, compared with six percent for the same period in 2014.
In the UK, challenger bank Aldermore has announced that it doubled its profits in the first half of the year on the back of gaining more mortgage and small business customers.
The bank reported that its underlying pre-tax profits more than doubled to £44 million, net interest income rose by 50 percent and new loans increased by 14 percent to £1.2 billion. Lending to small businesses rose by 12 percent to £2.5 billion while residential mortgage lending increased by 14 percent to £2.9 billion.
Revealing Aldermore's first set of interim results since the bank floated on the stock market in March, chief executive Phillip Monks said that the UK's new bank tax could hit lending.
Cash is on the way out in the UK, according to a survey by Lloyds Bank, with only half of those surveyed believing that it will still be in day-to-day use in ten years' time and 39 percent saying they don't expect to be using cash at all by then.
The rise of cards and contactless payments in the UK has been striking, and Barclaycard confirmed the trend yesterday, revealing that contactless transactions more than doubled in the last 12 months. Barclaycard said that 29 percent of supermarket transactions and 20 percent of restaurant payments are now contactless.
Atlas Mara, the Africa-focused bank founded by former Barclays boss Bob Diamond two years ago, has reported a maiden profit of $4.1 million for the first half of the year, compared with a $63.1 million loss last year. However, Atlas Mara's shares are still not performing, having closed at $5.70 yesterday, compared with their December 2013 flotation price of $10.
The Polish News Bulletin reports that an analysis by the country's central bank has found that, while merchants have benefited from the lowering of interchange fees, consumers did not experience any financial benefit. Acquirers have also benefited from the lower fees but, contrary to expectations, they have not led to a decrease in the price of goods and services.
In Australia, the central bank is to look at whether barriers are forcing consumers to pay high credit card interest rates of 20 percent despite the existence of better deals in the market.
Reserve Bank of Australia assistant governor, Malcolm Edey, told a Senate inquiry into credit card interest rates that the fact consumers weren't switching to cards with more attractive rates raised the question of whether "there are obstacles to competition and whether there might be some role for regulatory action".
The issue is to be discussed at September's meeting of the country's Council of Financial Regulators.
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