The Korea Herald


Korean banks flock to Myanmar for ‘next big market’

KDB, IBK, KB Kookmin accredited to start business in ASEAN state

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : April 10, 2020 - 16:33

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An external view of the Korea Development Bank headquarters in Yeouido, Seoul (Yonhap) An external view of the Korea Development Bank headquarters in Yeouido, Seoul (Yonhap)

Major South Korean lenders are gearing to start business in Myanmar, hoping to sustain their momentum in the Southeast Asian region.

Korea Development Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea and KB Kookmin Bank obtained preliminary approval from the central bank in Myanmar earlier in the week, industry sources said Friday.

KDB was granted preliminary approval from the Central Bank of Myanmar a day prior to open a new branch in Yangon, the country’s largest city. It marks the first time in 22 years for the state-run bank to open an Indochina office after withdrawing its office from Bangkok in the wake of the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

State-run IBK and KB Kookmin Bank obtained the approval to set up a local subsidiary.

In its latest move to open up the financial market to foreign operators, the CBM granted preliminary licenses to seven foreign banks out of 13 applicants from five countries. The certified lenders may open up to 10 branches in the region to carry out corporate and retail financing.

In addition to its work capacity and high credit rating, KDB was recognized for its cooperative network with ASEAN member states, officials said.

With the new Yangon branch, KDB expects to support the Moon Jae-in administration’s New Southern Policy and fulfill its role for both Korea and Myanmar’s developments in the high-growth potential financial market.

Taking advantage of its forte in the housing loan market, KB Kookmin Bank is planning to focus on housing loan products, seeking to create synergy with the Myanmarese government’s project to create a collective residential complex for low-income families.

Among Korean banks, the pioneer to start business in Myanmar was Shinhan Bank, which opened its first office in 2016.

By Jie Ye-eun (