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Commercial banks in Serbia thrive despite interest rate limitations: A look at 2023 profits

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Despite the National Bank of Serbia’s decision to limit interest rates on housing loans in September, commercial banks in Serbia still managed to achieve impressive profits in 2023, as reported by Danas.

In recent years, banks had enjoyed favorable conditions with low interest rates, including periods of negative Euribor. However, inflation starting in mid-2021 prompted central banks to raise interest rates, leading to a ripple effect on other reference rates like Euribor for euros or Belibor for dinars. These rising rates, particularly throughout 2022 and 2023, bolstered the income of commercial banks.

The Austrian Raiffeisen Bank emerged as the top earner in 2023, posting a net profit of 182 million euros, more than double its earnings in 2022. Following closely behind was Intesa, with a profit of 179.4 million euros, marking a substantial increase of 70 million euros from the previous year. Additionally, Unikredit, another Italian bank, more than doubled its profits from 71.4 million euros in 2022 to 157 million euros in 2023.

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Other notable performers included Hungarian OTP Banka with 142.8 million euros and NLB Komercijalna Banka with 128.4 million euros, both showing significant improvements from the prior year.

While interest income remained a primary source of revenue, the landscape shifted in 2023. With interest rates no longer at historic lows, banks turned to increased fees and commissions for earnings. However, this income stream saw a decline in prominence, with banks earning a net amount of 660 million euros from fees in 2023 compared to 573.3 million euros in 2022.

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