The Philippine banking system’s assets grew steadily amid the pandemic, it went up by 3.9 percent year-on-year to P19.393 trillion as of end-April from P18.665 trillion, based on Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data.

The end-April total banking assets is however lower compared to end-March’s P19.448 trillion.

The big banks or the 46 universal and commercial banks contributed the bulk of the banking system’s total assets at P17.98 trillion, up by four percent compared to end-April 2020’s P17.288 trillion.

The SM Group’s banking arm, BDO Unibank Inc., continue to dominate the banking landscape in assets size with P3.246 trillion as of end-December 2020, followed by government-owned Land Bank of the Philippines with P2.361 trillion.

The top five big banks in terms of assets size also include the Ty family-controlled Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. with P2.172 trillion, the Ayala Group’s Bank of the Philippine Islands with P1.947 trillion and tycoon Lucio Tan’s Philippine National Bank with P1.227 trillion.

The growth in the banking system’s total assets was partly due to an 11.89 percent increase in net financial assets during the period at P4.693 trillion compared to same time in 2020 of P4.194 trillion. Financial assets, other than loans and receivables, are the banks’ investments in debt and equity instruments.

The cash and due from banks also grew by 13.18 percent to P3.498 trillion versus P3.011 trillion in 2020.

However, the banking system’s gross total loan portfolio fell by 2.47 percent to P10.649 trillion from P10.919 trillion same period last year. Loans have the highest share of banks’ total assets.

The BSP said in a report that the composition of the banking system’s asset mix was still “relatively stable over the medium-term” but that credit growth was expected to decline due to the pandemic-induced economic recession, resulting to weakened or limited corporate demand and economic activities during the lockdowns.

The country’s GDP contracted by 4.2 percent in the first quarter as the stricter economic lockdowns continued from March 29 until mid-May to control the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Big banks’ outstanding loans continued to shrink in April by five percent, a bigger decline than 4.5 percent in March.

Source: Manila Bulletin (