Big Four (banking)
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Big Four is the colloquial name for the four main banks in several countries, where the banking industry is dominated by just four institutions and where the phrase has gained currency.
In Australia, the "big four banks" refers to the four largest banks by market share, who between them hold 85% of the home loan markets in the country. In 2012, their combined total asset is A$2.66 trillion, which is about 200% of Australian GDP in 2011. These are:
- National Australia Bank
- Commonwealth Bank, also known as CBA (government owned until 1996)
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, or ANZ
The government policy until 2011 was to maintain this status quo, it was called the four pillars policy. During the Global Recession of 2008-09, Westpac acquired St George Bank and the Commonwealth Bank acquired Bankwest.
During the 1920s the term “Big Four” applied to the Four Northern Banks of the Republic of China (i.e. the four most capitalized commercial banks in Northern China). These were the Yien Yieh Commercial Bank, the Kincheng Banking Corporation, the Continental Bank and The China & South Sea Bank. These were contrasted with the Three Southern Banks of Southern China.
By 1949 the Big Four were the Bank of China, the Bank of Communications, the Central Bank of China and the Farmers Bank of China (and with Central Trust of China, Postal Savings and Remittance Bureau of China, Central Cooperative Treasury of China, called as "Big Four Banks, Two Bureaus, One Treasury" or "四行两局一库").
Currently, in the People's Republic of China, the Big Four banks ("四大商业银行") are:
- Bank of China
- China Construction Bank
- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
- Agricultural Bank of China
and have been described as such in the western press.
In Ireland, the term "big four" applies to the four largest banks by market capitalisation. These all operate in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and have a wider international presence.
- Bank of Ireland
- Allied Irish Banks (operates as First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland)
- National Irish Bank (operates as Northern Bank in Northern Ireland) - Irish Branch of Danske Bank since 2007.
- Ulster Bank - Subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group since 2000/2001.
South Africa 
- Standard Bank (Not related to Standard Chartered Bank)
- FirstRand Bank (operators of First National Bank)
- Nedbank - owned by Old Mutual.
- Absa Group - owned by Barclays since 2005.
United Kingdom 
In relation to the United Kingdom, the phrase "big four banks" is currently used to refer to the four largest UK-based banking groups, being:
- Barclays Bank (part of Barclays);
- Midland Bank (now HSBC Bank and part of HSBC);
- Lloyds Bank (now Lloyds TSB, itself now part of Lloyds Banking Group); and
- National Westminster Bank ("NatWest") (now part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group).
United States 
- Bank of America (headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina)
- Citigroup (through its Citibank subsidiary, headquartered in New York City)
- JPMorgan Chase (through its Chase subsidiary, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois)
- Wells Fargo (headquartered in San Francisco, California)
From a purely retail banking perspective, U.S. Bancorp and PNC Financial Services both have significantly more branches than Citibank, the retail banking arm of Citigroup. However, Citibank still has significantly more assets than U.S. Bancorp and PNC.
See also 
- Big Five (banks), Canada
- ABC news story
- Four Northern Banks
- Yao Sui: Chinese Finance History, High Education Publisher in 2007, Beijing. (in Chinese: 《中国金融史》，姚遂主编，高等教育出版社，2007年版)
- "Anglo Irish Bank Corporation (Executive Summary)". SME Financial. Retrieved 2012-01-17 "...The only banks with higher market capitalisation were Allied Irish Banks (AIB) and Bank of Ireland, both with strong retail and commercial presences. Ulster Bank and National Irish Bank are the other members of the ‘Big Four’ retail and commercial banks, both owned by overseas parents and not listed on the Irish Stock Exchange".
- Hardiman, Cyril (12 February 2005). "'Big Four' Northern banks face probe on pricing and competition claims". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
- "Cross-Border Personal Banking in Ireland". Centre for Cross-Border Studies. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
- "AIB's First Trust refunds £350,000 to customers over fee error". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved 2012-01-17.
- "Northern Bank to close four branches". BBC News. 16 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- "Banks and foreign exchange in SA". SouthAfrica.info. Brand South Africa. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
- Östlund, Carl-Viggo. "Kunderna gisslan hos storbankerna (The customers held hostage by the big banks) (swedish)". Aftonbladet.se.
- "UK banks prepare for inevitable shake-up - sources". Reuters. 1 September 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- "UK to prioritise taxpayers as bank shake-up looms". Reuters. 10 April 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- The Big Four by D Rogers
- "Citigroup posts 4th straight loss; Merrill loss widens". USA Today. Associated Press. October 16, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
- Temple, James; The Associated Press (November 18, 2008). "Bay Area job losses likely in Citigroup layoffs". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 5 December 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
- Banks Ranked by Number of Branches
- Banks Ranked by Total Assets