Banking and Currency in Hong Kong: A Study of Postwar by Y. C. Jao

By Y. C. Jao

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Present banking data do not distinguish between types of depositors (government, business, and household), let alone distribution by size. Information on government-held time deposits may be obtained from annual reports of the Accountant-General, but we know of no way to differentiate between deposits held by firms and deposits held by individuals. A breakdown of bank loans and advances is available only since June 1965, but again with no size distribution. 3 describing the sources and uses of bank funds is therefore necessarily incomplete, and covers a relatively short period.

In 1959 it acquired the whole capital stock of another note-issuing bank, the Mercantile Bank Ltd. At present the Bank is the centre of a group which is a complex network of international banking with a comprehensive chain of branches, subsidiaries and associates all over the world. 5 In 1971, it ranked seventy-ninth among the top 300 commercial banks in the world. 6 More important, its international activities underline the fact that, despite its origins and deep roots in Hong Kong, the bank has vigorously diversified its interests both geographically and functionally, pursuing a strategy commonly adopted by many other British overseas banks.

The third main group may be called the non-British expatriate banks. These are the Hong Kong offices of international banking institutions. The group has been steadily increasing in number, reflecting the growing importance of Hong Kong as a trading and financial centre. American, European and Asian banks are well represented. The large number of foreign banks makes Hong Kong's banking structure one of the most cosmopolitan in the world. In addition to the licensed banks (see Appendix A), there were forty-four representative offices of foreign banks at the end of 1972 (see Appendix B).

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