How BDO is wooing Korean customers in Philippines

By Fidea Encarnacion,

Posted at Feb 26 2014 05:09 PM | Updated as of Feb 27 2014 02:14 AM

MANILA, Philippines – BDO Unibank, Inc. (BDO) will start offering a new service targeted at Korean nationals residing in the Philippines that will allow seamless money transfers and remittances to and from Korea beginning next month.

Walter Wassmer, BDO senior executive vice president and head for institutional banking group, said that they opened a Korean Desk back in 2010 to provide a better service to Korean nationals who are interested in opening an account with the bank.

“We are ahead of the rest. I think our advantage to them is that [since a number of] Koreans don’t know how to speak in English, we will always have a Korean on our desk. They [serve] as a bridge to the language barrier," he said.

BDO will launch the International Remit Account (IRA) on March 3, a service that will allow Korean nationals to receive money sent in by relatives in Korea through partners Kookmin Bank and Hana Bank.

Korean beneficiaries will be able to receive the money through BDO branches and automated teller machines (ATMs). The Korean desk will be open to assist customers through any BDO branch.

“They can retrieve the money in all BDO branches and [from] the 14, 000 ATMs in the network… They can transact in any branch, [and the Korean Desk will be] just a phone call away. The branch manager or the account assistant may transfer the call and we’ll have somebody ready to bridge the language gap,” Wassmer said.

To use the service, the Korean resident must open a new account with BDO. The transfer shall be completed within the same day the outbound transaction was made.

According to BDO, IRA will be subject to fees, but shall be comparably lower compared to competitors.

Wassmer said that of the 120,000 Korean residents in the Philippines, about 30,000 are students who rely on money being sent by their families from Korea.

“I think we have a total of 120,000, more or less. That’s the market, and [it’s] growing. A lot of Korean students in this country are supported by their parents in Korea, and so money is sent on a regular basis. Our product allows them to send the money faster and easier for them to retrieve the money," he said.

Although Korean students serve as the biggest in the total target market, Wassmer said that they are targeting Koreans residing in different parts of the Philippines -- such as retail business owners and executives working in corporations.

“[We are] addressing a niche in the market…on a nationwide platform,” Wassmer said.