Hana Bank, microfinance unit, Myanmar, South Korean, Korea financial firms, banking, Chairman Shin Je-yoon

SEOUL, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) — South Korean lender Hana Bank said Monday it has established a microfinance institution in Myanmar, joining in the global competition to tap into the impoverished country that has launched dramatic reforms to open up its economy.

The Hana Financial Group affiliate held the opening ceremony of “Hana Microfinance” in Hlegu Township, a rural community northeast of Yangon, over the weekend with around 300 government officials and local residents attending, according to a press release.

Hana Microfinance, the first overseas microfinance unit established by a Korean bank, plans to extend small-sum loans under 500,000 won (US$485) to residents of 23 townships across Myanmar.

“The microfinance unit is set to boost Hana Bank’s corporate image in Myanmar and potentially help the bank’s long-term goal of entering the local banking industry,” a Hana Bank official said by phone.

Since November 2012, the lender has been operating an office in Yangon. Its business, however, has been largely limited due to an absence of a sales license.

The latest move comes as companies around the world are scrambling to enter the Southeast Asian nation that is slowly progressing toward democracy following five decades of military dictatorship.

While the political and economic reforms unveiled three years ago wooed foreign investment, the financial industry has remained an area with high barriers.

As part of efforts to help Korean firms enter Myanmar, Financial Services Commission Chairman Shin Je-yoon visited the country in June to strengthen economic ties and promote Korean financial firms.


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