More so than other Chinese state-owned banking giants, the Agricultural Bank of China has a focus on the country’s less well-to-do rural population. Its loans to rural households rose 53% to $30.8 billion in the five years through 2017. It now faces competition in that field from Internet giants Alibaba and Tencent and fintechs such as CreditEast, which allows farmers to borrow cows. But such loans have also become a lesser part of AgBank’s retail loan businesses; its amount of outstanding residential mortgage loans tripled in the same period, to $468.3 billion.
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Non-performing loans are growing faster than profits.