Korea's best bank for SMEs 2018: Woori Bank
The image abroad of corporate Korea is of the same big-name chaebol: LG, Samsung, Hyundai and so on. But like other wealthy markets geared toward manufacturing and exports (Germany and Japan), much value lies in small and medium-sized enterprises. These SMEs act as Korea’s beating heart, generating abundant employment and acting as vital crucibles of creativity.
Few of Korea’s leading lenders are shy about articulating their SME credentials, but no domestic financial institution can compete with Woori Bank. Founded in 1899, Woori has been providing invaluable financial advice and credit to smaller Korean firms ever since. It helped to transform the likes of Samsung and LG into international powers and is working hard to support the next generation of would-be global firms.
At the end of September 2018, outstanding loans to Woori’s 1.6 million SME customers totalled W84 trillion ($74 billion). Its roster of smaller corporate clients is growing in number by roughly 100,000 each year, serviced digitally or at one of the bank’s 878 nationwide branches.
Woori has joined with government agencies to channel W1 trillion to smaller firms and aligned itself with the ministry of trade, industry and energy and the Korea Technology Finance Corporation to disburse an additional W500 billion to highly creative and innovative smaller firms.
The bank’s digital team has rolled out a suite of mobile banking services tailored to SMEs, including a tax advisory application and a cash management app.
The latter, Woori reckons, is actively used by more than 150,000 corporates every month, helping them to manage their time and finances more efficiently.