An employee of Kookmin Bank walks out of the bank's branch office in Seoul
An employee of Kookmin Bank walks out of the bank's branch office in Seoul Reuters

As Philippine-Korea relations continue to flourish with hundreds of thousands of Koreans visiting Philippines yearly, Korea's biggest bank, KB Kookmin Bank has filed an application with the Philippine Central Bank to open its first branch in the country.

If KB Kookmin Bank gets the central bank's nod, then it will be the 12th foreign bank to be opened in the Philippines, which has opened up to foreign banks after a law known as Republic Act No. 10641 was approved in 2014. It allows foreign banks to compete in the Philippine banking industry.

Three other Korean banks -- Shinhan Bank, Industrial Bank of Korean and Woori Bank -- were also given the approval to open branches in the Philippines.

Apart from the Korean players, the Philippine government also gave the go-ahead signal to other foreign banks to open branches and they include -- Hua Nan Commercial Bank, Cathay Yuanta Bank, First Commercial Bank, Chang Hwa Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, United Overseas Bank and CIMB Bank Berhad.

The KB Financial Group became aggressive in its expansion and acquisitions overseas when it overtook Shinhan Financial Group as the most valuable financial company in South Korea.

As a result of its expansion, KB Kookmin has established overseas branches in New York, London, Auckland, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Yangon Shangai, Beijing, Suzhou, Guanzhou, Gurgaon and Harbin.

It is recorded to have the largest Korean-customer based and widest network branches in South Korea.

Economists in the Philippines said that the entry of the new Korean Bank and other foreign banks flourished as they got attracted to the Philippines' strong macroeconomic fundamentals.

The Philippines has a total population of 100 million and Filipinos are on the rise of developing consciousness on the importance of banking services.

In 2005, Korean tourists visiting the Philippines reached 570,000, overtaking the number of US tourists visiting the Philippines. Koreans also have discovered the Philippines as a destination to learn English-speaking skills and at the same time enjoy affordable access to natural beach resorts.