Banking and finance are central pillars of Panama’s prosperity. Conservative investment policies and practices have kept the financial sector’s attention firmly focused on Panama’s growth as investments are turned into tangible national assets.
Published: September 2015
Throughout the 2008 and 2011 banking crises that wreaked havoc on economies around the world, Panama’s banks stayed remarkably above the fray. In fact, the industry has continued to grow over the last decade, emerging as the banking hub of the region. In all, 94 public and private institutions hold some $178.16 billion in assets. Today, Panama is moving to consolidate its business resources to stake its claim as the undisputed finance center of Latin America.
The nation’s banking system is set apart from others around the world in that there is no central bank operating as a lender of last resort or manipulating the money supply, as the Federal Reserve does in the United States. The Superintendency of Banks Panama (SBP) governs the industry. Formed in 1998 to replace the National Bank Commission, the SBP is charged with assuring stability, competitiveness, and confidence in the financial system. The SBP is autonomous; its funding comes from banks, and it has gained respect in both the public and private spheres.
Banking credit increased by 14 percent in 2013 over the preceding year. The trade sector, including services, led with $13.4889 billion, followed by personal consumption at $2.3706 billion, and construction with $2.3329 billion.