Bank of China (BOC) Limited announced Friday that it achieved a profit of 121.44 billion yuan ($17 billion), in 2019's fist half, an increase of 5.08 percent year-on-year.
During the same period, its operating income rose 10.02 percent to 276.69 billion yuan. Among the total, net-fee and commission income grew by 4.93 percent to 50.56 billion yuan.
The net interest margin (NIM) of the bank dropped by five basis points in the first half to 1.83 percent, compared with the same period of last year. This was mainly due to an increase in deposit costs.
But the NIM soon stabilized as it increased by one basis point from the first quarter.
Wu Fulin, BOC executive vice-president, said the bank optimized the structure of its assets and liabilities and took measures to control deposit costs.
"We will closely track and analyze the economic and financial situations. On the one hand, we will optimize our bank's assets structure, offer different pricing strategies to our clients, and realize refined loan pricing management.
"On the other hand, we will adopt a customer-centric approach, accelerate our push for innovation of a full suite of products, increase customer stickiness, and reduce the cost of funds," said Wu at a news conference on Friday.
The bank will in the meantime make efforts to reduce its reliance on net interest income by improving the contribution of non-interest income to operating income, he said.
Endeavoring to provide more efficient and high-quality services to the real economy, the bank served major national strategies and initiatives, extended significant support to the development of key sectors, and shored up weak links in the economy with innovative services, according to its 2019 interim results announcement.
By the end of June, loans and advances of the bank and its subsidiaries to customers recorded an increase of 750.46 billion yuan from the end of last year.
Among these, outstanding loans to key areas such as the Yangtze River Delta and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region accounted for a significant share.
Liu Liange, BOC chairman, said the bank plans to offer new loans worth 1 trillion yuan in the Yangtze River Delta region in the next five years.
The bank continued to support the Belt and Road Initiative.
As of June 30, it had followed up on over 600 major Belt and Road projects and granted total credit of more than $140 billion.
Ramping up support for the development of inclusive finance and private enterprises, the bank's outstanding inclusive finance loans granted to micro and small enterprises reached 379.2 billion yuan, up 27 percent over the prior year-end.
The asset quality of the bank remained generally stable.
The nonperforming loan (NPL) ratio dropped by twi basis points from the end of last year to 1.4 percent at the end of June, although the balance of NPLs increased by 8.96 billion yuan to 175.9 billion yuan.
Liu Jiandong, BOC chief risk officer, said the bank will keep optimizing its credit structure, speed up its responses to national strategies, strengthen the screening and management of potential areas of risk, step up disposal of nonperforming assets, and improve the level of risk management by using information technologies and establishing online risk management platforms.
With China's banking sector expected to face greater pressure in terms of asset quality, Chen Hongming, associate partner at McKinsey, advised banks to accelerate digital risk management by using big data, advanced analytics, and automation technology.
He also encouraged banks to adopt digital debt collection solutions to reduce loan losses effectively and efficiently.