FinanceMalta Investor Guide Series – Credit & Financial Institutions

Source: FinanceMalta


The Maltese banking sector has changed significantly over the last 15 years¸ having been transformed from a tightly controlled publicly owned sector into one of liberalisation and foreign ownership. The Maltese banking landscape has developed from four retail banks serving the local population to an EU-compliant industry sector of world-class  sophistication¸ with 25 foreign or privately-owned credit institutions providing banking services. Bank assets surged from about 20 billion euro in 2004 to around 50 billion euro in 2011. In addition¸ 14 financial institutions and a number of payment institutions¸ which are not allowed to take deposits but offer other financial services¸ complement the sector

Malta’s retail banking sector is one of the most consistently profitable sectors of the Maltese economy. Domestic deposits account for some 10.6 billion euro. The domestic banking landscape in Malta is dominated by Bank of Valletta and HSBC Malta. Each of them has a network of around 50 branches and offices across the Maltese Islands and together they account for around 90 per cent of the local market. In addition to HSBC and BOV¸ the Maltese banking sector includes APS Bank¸ which is owned by the local Catholic Church¸ and Lombard Bank¸ whose largest shareholder is Marfin Bank from Cyprus¸ both of which operate a small number of branches on the island. Among the more recent newcomers is the Portuguese retail bank¸ Banif Bank¸ which in January 2008 entered the domestic retail and commercial market¸ and Mediterranean Bank¸ which is targeting high-net-worth wealth management¸ savings and investments.

Malta’s international banking centre has been gaining considerable ground in establishing itself as a finance hub in the Mediterranean region. Fast growing and dynamic¸ Malta-based banks currently hold total international deposits of 28 billion euro. This has drawn some of the most highly respected names in institutional finance to establish operations in Malta and use the country’s strategic location as a springboard for future expansion into Europe¸ Africa and the Middle East. Of the 25 banks 22 are foreign owned. 14 of the foreign credit institutions are from EU member states¸ six are from non-EU countries and another two are branches from non-EU countries. There are currently a dozen financial institutions licensed in Malta. While this number has declined in the past years¸ there are now also seven payment institutions licensed in the country with many others exercising their right to provide services within the EU or establishing a branch in Malta.


  • A stable macroeconomic environment
  • EU and eurozone location
  • Flexible regulatory framework
  • Competitive fiscal environment
  • Growing numbers of freshgraduates specialising in financial services
  • Lower operational costs
  • A reputable stock exchange
  • Easy access to key stakeholders due to the size of the island
  • English-speaking country with a pro-business government
  • Convenient European timezone
  • A stepping stone to the markets of Europe and north Africa