MANILA, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Eight foreign banks have applied to open offices in the Philippines, adding to 10 that have received approval since one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies changed banking laws three years ago, a central bank official said on Friday.
Chuchi Fonacier, deputy governor in charge of banking supervision at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, declined to identify the lenders. She said most are Asian and in various stages of the application process, and that one publicly listed Malaysian bank is likely to start operations this year.
“They are seeing the business environment is conducive to do business,” Fonacier told reporters on the sidelines of a business forum. “Plus, of course, you have the demographics,” she said of the Philippines’ young population.
The Philippines is keen to develop its banking sector, with assets of about 14.42 trillion pesos ($280.44 billion), to help quarterly gross domestic product growth reach as much as 8 percent in the medium term from around 6 percent at present.
To that end, the government changed laws surrounding foreign lenders in 2014 to scrap a 10 branch limit and allow full ownership of local peers.
The Philippines has since granted licences to lenders including Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp - a unit of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc - Singapore’s United Overseas Bank Ltd, Taiwan’s Chang Hwa Commercial Bank Ltd, South Korea’s Woori Bank and Industrial Bank of Korea.
$1 = 51.4190 Philippine pesos Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Christopher Cushing