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Woori Cambodia ready for the transition to a commercial bank

Harrison White

Woori Bank (Cambodia) Plc has launched after receiving full approval from the regulator and converting from WB Finance. The bank has stated a strong emphasis on staff training, implementing corporate products, and improving infrastructure.

The full commercial license comes after the 2019 merger between – WB Finance and Woori Finance Cambodia – forming WB Finance Co Ltd.

The bank’s parent company Woori Financial Group has a global presence in more than 450 locations in 23 countries. Local operations have a $924 million loan portfolio, total assets of $1.14 billion, 3,728 staff, and $273 million in shareholder equity.

Speaking to Cambodia Investment Review about the newly approved commercial license Kim Hongju, CEO-Nominee said he has put a strong emphasis on developing human resources.

Investment in staff, corporate products, and infrastructure

A common issue by commercial banks that have transitioned from microfinance institutions is the shift in company cultures that is required such as moving from company-centric to a customer-centric model.

“Staff training is our biggest agenda after the transition to a full commercial bank. In response, we have implemented a companywide training schedule as well as conducting team building exercising to integrate our staff,” Kim said.

“That said, we are also treating our staff training as a corporate social responsibility – this is another one of our key characteristics – we want our company to grow with Cambodia,” he added.

Opportunities for more corporate products in the market is one of the biggest differences between Cambodia and the Korean banking sector. “Cambodia has yet to develop its commercial and investment banking sector and Woori hopes to capture this space,” Kim said.

After reportedly receiving a $100 million capital injection the bank is now looking to an aggressive upgrade and expansion of its infrastructure.

Kim would not disclose the bank’s digital transformation agenda however emphasized that being digital is a fundamental component of every bank not just in Cambodia but around the world.

The bank’s parent company slogan is “Digital First, Change Everything”.

In addition, to digitalization, the bank has stated it will upgrade all 138 branches nationwide as well as roll out premium branches and upgrade existing branches to better serve their 326,000 customers. Furthermore, more than 100 ATMs will be rolled out throughout the year.

One of Woori Bank (Cambodia) 138 branches across the Kingdom.

Investment in Cambodia’s banking sector

During the COVID 19 pandemic, the National Bank of Cambodia implemented regulations to assist both borrowers and lenders. Most recently they decided to continue allowing financial institutions to restructure loans until June 30 this year – but will now classify them as non-performing after multiple restructures. 

In response, Kim said that amid this unpredictable economy, and with support from the National Bank of Cambodia, our company has restructured loans and credit payments for clients who are in need.

South Korea’s increasing investment in Cambodia is now worth over $4.4 billion as the two nations look to also strengthen diplomatic ties through economic cooperation and bilateral trade estimated at $1 billion annually.

This investment has been heavily focused on Cambodia’s finance sector after in 2011 the country helped to launch the Kingdom’s securities market sharing a 45 – 55 percentage split with the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

However, Kim reflects that investment into Cambodia’s financial sector has come from a wide range of countries not just Korea – including China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia are other strong investors.

“Cambodia has a strong attraction for many regional countries that are already at a further stage of development. Cambodia reporting growth figures of 7% year-on-year offers fantastic opportunities for companies,” Kim said.

“Stable political outlook and relatively favorable foreign investment laws are also strong drivers,” he added

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