The head of Taiwan’s largest financial group has suggested regulators adopt withdrawal curbs to save local banks from the type of collapses in public confidence that have rocked global markets in recent weeks.
Lee Chang-ken, president of Taipei-based Cathay Financial Holding Co., warned of the increased risk lenders face of rapid bank runs in an age of social media and digital banking.
“NT$1.3 trillion was withdrawn from Silicon Valley Bank in under 48 hours,” he said at the company’s earnings briefing in Taipei Wednesday. “If that happened in Taiwan today, any bank it happened to would die.”
Lee said that equity markets can impose restrictions on trading to protect listed companies and suggested a “fuse mechanism” to protect banks when they face liquidity crises. He said he was just “throwing the idea out there” for everyone to discuss.
Cathay Financial is Taiwan’s largest financial group in terms of assets.
Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission declined to immediately comment.
Lee’s concerns echo remarks from Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser Wednesday, who cited mobile banking as a “game changer” for lenders in the face of client worries about their deposits. The unease among senior bankers comes after weeks of turmoil in global financial markets triggered by the collapse of SVB Financial Group and several other smaller US lenders.
“We all need to think about this problem,” Lee said Wednesday. “If this can happen in the US, it can happen in Taiwan.”