Woori Bank Stretches Hands to Non-Korean Clients
By Kim Jae-won
Expats visit local banks for financial services such as opening new accounts, sending money home and changing currency. Woori Bank added one more special service to this list, a shelter for foreign workers.
The lender opened a small shelter and library for Filipino workers at their Hyehwa-dong branch in Seoul on Dec. 6. The space is equipped with about 300 books, and 200 CDs and DVDs in Filipino, which were shipped from the island nation. Any Filipino worker can use the facility for free. A rental service is also available.
Basic Korean textbooks and Korean dictionaries are also set aside for the islanders to help them learn the language.
"About 300 hundred Filipino workers visit the shelter every Sunday. They have already organized a regular meeting in the shelter," Park Ki-moon, a manager of the public relations division at Woori, told The Korea Times.
"Filipino workers use the branch on Sundays because there is a Filipino Catholic Church nearby. After the service, they drop by here to get banking service and enjoy Filipino culture," Park added.
Woori decided to supply the location and the necessary materials, but let Filipinos manage it.
"We just provide the venue and what they need. Filipino workers run the center by themselves," Hong Young-hwan, vice president of the branch, said.
It has just started, but I hope more Filipinos visit this shelter and enjoy it."
Woori's Various Expat-Specialized Services
Woori Bank provides various expat customer focused services from expat-only desks to remittance fee waiving programs.
There are expat-only desks in 11 branches nationwide, including the Myeongdong branch. Expats can get one-stop banking service without waiting in line at other branches. The lender also started a Chinese and Japanese language service for Internet banking recently as well as the English service they already run.
There are two specialized foreigner branches in Seoul. The Hyehwa-dong branch is for Filipinos, and the Gwanghee-dong branch is for Mongolians.
The Hyehwa-dong branch is opened from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. while the Gwanghee-dong branch runs from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays to provide bank service for Filipino and Mongolian workers who don't have time to drop by the banks on weekdays.
"About 70 to 100 Mongolian workers use our branch to remit some of their salary to family members at home," Kim Sung-deok, a vice president of the Gwnaghee-dong branch, said.
"Some of them come from cities in Gyeonggi Province, such as Ansan to use the bank service and meet their compatriots around here."
There is a small Mongolian community near the Jung District.
The lender also opened a new service called "Woori One Remit Club," which waives remittance fees every fourth time they use the service. Any expat who resides in Korea can register for the service. They can drop by any branch of the lender nationwide with his or her passport. There is no additional or annual fee for the service.
Woori Bank vowed to provide more services for expats.
"We will extend various financial services for foreign workers as well as providing community-caring activities," Lee Jong-hwi, CEO of the lender, said at the shelter's opening ceremony.