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Korea's best bank for SMEs 2017: Industrial Bank of Korea

Industrial Bank of Korea

There are banks that excel at offering a solid range of financial services to small and medium-sized enterprises. And then there are actual SME banks, which exist primarily to serve the needs of buzzing young firms, the lifeblood of any economy.

Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) is one such financial institution. Formed in the turbulent year of 1961 with just Won200 million ($185,000) in paid-in capital, expressly to finance the needs of small businesses, it soon become a household name and a vital financial bedrock of the fragile young economy.

For more than 50 years it has quietly but steadfastly expanded its reach and its range, coming to offer a full suite of corporate and retail services to its 16 million customers.

The lender posted pre-tax profit of Won519 billion in 2016, an annualized increase of 15%, on net interest income of Won1.15 trillion. But it is in loan disbursals to SMEs, which account for 27% of all lending, that IBK really shines. Its stated aim is to be “one of the world’s top financial groups” thanks to its “distinctive SME-oriented model”.

Total outstanding lending to the bank’s roster of 1.3 million smaller firms rose 6.6% year on year in the first quarter of 2017, to Won134.4 trillion.

Newly launched products catering to SMEs include the i-One Small Business Loan, a loan facility that small business owners can apply for entirely online; a digital support programme to help corporates of all sizes get online; and loan products to support sustainable business ventures and the construction of smart factories.