The Financial Supervisory Commission yesterday announced more deregulation for banks’ offshore banking units (OBUs), saying they may provide all foreign currency-based products and services to customers regardless of asset levels.
The easing came as part of the government’s efforts to facilitate the development of “free economic pilot zones” in the nation, the commission said on its Web site.
The latest liberalization saves OBUs from needing to classify clients based on their asset levels when they seek to offer financial products and services, the commission said in a statement, adding that they may conduct all types of business not explicitly prohibited.
The easing is intended to allow financial institutions more room to diversify their product lines and boost their overall revenues, the commission said.
Meanwhile, the commission approved plans by Yuanta Financial Holding Co (元大金控) to acquire the local unit of New York Life Insurance Co, according to a separate statement.
Yuanta Financial in June inked a deal with New York Life to buy the local unit for NT$100 million (US$3.3 million).
The commission yesterday also gave its go-ahead to plans by Jih Sun International Bank (日盛銀行) to set up a representative office in Hong Kong, as well as plans by Shin Kong Commercial Bank (新光銀行) to establish a representative office in Yangon, Myanmar.
In related news, new housing loans given by the nation’s five largest banks marked the highest level since July last year, as more people have moved into their own houses or apartments by the end of the year, the central bank said yesterday.
The Bank of Taiwan (台灣銀行), Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合作金庫銀行), Land Bank of Taiwan (土地銀行), Hua Nan Commercial Bank (華南商業銀行) and First Commercial Bank (第一銀行) gave NT$54.47 billion (US$1.81 billion) in new housing loans last month, an increase of NT$11.29 billion from figures in October.
The month-on-month increase of NT$11.29 billion marked the second-largest rise this year, only slightly behind the level of NT$13.93 billion recorded in March.
“[In Taiwan], some people prefer taking [ownership of] their houses by end of the year,” Chen E-dawn (陳一端), deputy head of the bank’s Economic Research Department, told a press conference.
In addition, a large construction project in Xindian District (新店), New Taipei City (新北市), was settled last month, helping boost the overall number of housing loans, Chen added.
The average interest rate on new housing loans at the five banks in Taiwan dropped to 1.935 percent last month, from the 1.945 percent recorded in October, reaching its lowest level since December last year, the central bank said.