While the banking system in China is primarily operated by the government, it has modernised and adopted a number of international banking norms. There are also two other banking options available in addition to the state-operated banks. Policy banks can be found mainly in rural areas. These banks specialise in trade and economic development. There are also city commercial banks which deal mainly with urban development and the growth of small and medium size businesses.
You will also find that a number of international banks have branches in China, including DBS Bank, CitiBank, Bank of East Asia, and OCBC. If you already bank with one of these financial institutions, you may find it easier to use one of their branches rather than open a new account.
If you do want to open an account with a Chinese bank, there are four large banks in the country that you will want to choose from:
- Bank of China
- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
- Agricultural Bank of China
- China Construction Bank
As you can tell from the names, the latter three banks originally were formed in order to develop specific areas of the economy. It is important that you go to the appropriate bank when trying to open an account. For the majority of international companies the first and only choice will be to use the Bank of China or BoC as it is commonly known.