RETAIL BANKING | Staff Reporter, Korea

Korean banks zero in on booming expat market

Lenders are growing their foreign currency desks.

South Korean banks are steadily expanding their product and service offerings for foreign workers in response to the steady growth of foreigners in the past decade, reports The Korea Times.

The number of foreigners in Korea hit 2.3 million as of end-July from a mere 747,000 in 2005 with expectations that the demographic could account for 5.8% of the population by 2021.

Also read: South Korean banks' foreign currency deposits rebounds to $68.51b in July

To tap on this lucrative market, Shinhan Bank has opened a Sunday Foreign Currency Center in Gyeonggi Province last March to cater to the number of foreigners in the area.

KB Kookmin operates similar centers across seven regions as it pledges to enhance measures designed for foreigners after the number of foreign currency transactions were valued at $635m (KRW723b) in September.

"The number of foreigners is expected to increase up to 5 million over the next decade, a reason why we deem them our new, significant customers," according to a KB official.

Woori Bank also inked an MOU earlier this year with Talking Korea, an education business to develop a Korean-language education models for foreigners. "Once we establish ourselves as a customer-friendly, reliable provider of banking services, a large number of foreigners will likely maintain a relationship with us and possible recommend us to their acquaintances, a great way for us to expand our presence both here and overseas," a spokesperson told Korea Times.

Photo from Laika ac from UK - Seoul, CC BY-SA 2.0

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