The 10 Biggest Latin American Banks

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After a period of rapid expansion, the Latin American banking sector has experienced slower growth in recent years because of political upheaval and plummeting commodity prices. While the future looks uncertain, major banks are hoping they can return to the double-digit annual growth they saw a decade ago.

As of April 30, 2021, the largest banks in Latin America are largely concentrated in three countries, according to the market intelligence firm S&P Global. Brazil claims the five biggest institutions by asset size, while three are headquartered in Mexico, one is based in Colombia, and another resides in Chile. Here is our analysis of each one.

Key Takeaways

  • The largest Latin American banks are in four countries: Brazil, Mexico, Columbia, and Chile.
  • Brazil has the five largest financial institutions by asset size.
  • The largest bank in Latin America is Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, based in Brazil.

1. Itaú Unibanco Holding SA

  • Assets: $369.53 billion (June 30, 2021)
  • Headquarters: Brazil

The largest bank in Latin America, Itaú does business in 21 countries and operates more than 33,000 service points worldwide. The privately-owned company provides traditional corporate banking services as well as investment banking operations and merger and acquisition support.

2. Banco do Brasil SA

  • Assets: $329.38 billion (Sept. 30, 2020)
  • Headquarters: Brazil

The government-controlled Banco do Brasil, with approximately $# billion in assets, is Latin America’s second-largest bank. On top of lending to individuals and businesses, the bank also offers asset management services and foreign exchange capabilities. Based in Brasilia, the bank has a presence in more than 23 countries.

3. Banco Bradesco SA

  • Assets: $295.14 billion (March 31, 2021)
  • Headquarters: Brazil

Headquartered in São Paulo, Banco Bradesco serves the individual as well as business clients. In addition to its banking products, it offers insurance services and retirement plans. Founded in 1943, Bradesco operates some 4,746 branches and owns 34,859 ATMs.

4. Caixa Econômica Federal

  • Assets: $277.44 billion (June 30, 2021)
  • Headquarters: Brazil

Established in 1969, Caixa is a “private government entity” with a close relationship to the Brazilian Ministry of Finance. The bank plays a key role in executing income transfer programs and putting national housing policies into effect. It also manages the country’s main lottery programs.

5. Banco Santander (Brasil) SA

  • Assets: $175.46 billion (June 30, 2021)
  • Headquarters: Brazil

Like several other Latin American banks, Santander Brasil is actually part of a larger European bank—in this case, Spain-based Santander. In addition to retail banking, credit cards, and home loans, the organization offers asset management and commercial banking services. 

6. Grupo Financiero BBVA Bancomer SA de CV

  • Assets: $125.28 billion (April 15, 2020)
  • Headquarters: Mexico

Mexico’s largest bank in terms of assets and deposits, Bancomer is a subsidiary of the Spanish company BBVA. Its revenue stream includes retail banking operations, stock brokerage services, insurance, and mutual fund management. BBVA Bancomer now has more than 78.1 million customers, 7,744 bank locations, and a network of 4,286 ATMs.

7. Grupo Aval Acciones y Valores SA

  • Assets: $103.29 billion (June 30, 2021)
  • Headquarters: Columbia

8. Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB de CV

  • Assets: $89.06 billion (March 31, 2021)
  • Headquarters: Mexico

Banorte was opportunistic in the wake of the Mexican financial crisis in the 1990s, acquiring multiple banks and building its presence throughout the country. Officially known as Grupo Financiero Banorte, the bank offers retail banking products as well as investment services, annuity and insurance products, retirement funds, and warehousing capabilities.

9. Banco Santander México SA Institución de Banca Múltiple Grupo Financiero Santa

  • Assets: $81.95 billion (July 30, 2021)
  • Headquarters: Mexico

Santander Mexico provides a wide range of consumer products, including mortgages, credit cards, and personal loans. The bank, a division of Spain-headquartered Santander, also caters to business clients. Services include pension planning services, financing solutions, and foreign trade services. 

10. Banco de Crédito e Inversiones

  • Assets: $74.13 billion (June 30, 2021)
  • Headquarters: Chile

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