IBOS aims to grow international banking network
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IBOS aims to grow international banking network

As banks retreat to their home markets, they must find reliable partners to serve corporate customers overseas or risk losing them.

Illustration: Pixabay

Even the most international of banks, Citi and HSBC, are now well into years-long efforts to cut back their local banking presences around the world. They, and many other banks that once harboured global ambitions, have been selling up, especially in retail banking, and quitting country after country.

But retail networks are a curious construct in banking. They don’t just serve individuals. Typically, they also serve businesses, all the way up from small local operations such as coffee shops and one- or two-person start-ups, sometimes to the mid-cap corporations covered by commercial banks.

And even small companies are now sourcing supplies and selling finished products internationally much earlier in their business lives than in decades past. That brings with it a requirement for bank-account opening, payments and receivables, other cash-management services and even trade finance and payroll in countries where a growing company’s main bank in its home market may no longer be present.

What is a bank to do if it wants to carry on serving that corporate customer well and hold on to the majority of its business, but cannot follow it overseas?

One answer is to join an international banking association.

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