Banking in Laos a thriving business
The number of banks setting up in Laos has been increasing recently, reflecting the growth in the banking business here as the country's economy expands.
The growth rate of Banque Franco-Lao Ltd (BFL), a joint venture between the BRED Group and Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL), reportedly doubled between 2011 and 2012 and now expects to grow by 50 percent in 2013.
CEO of BRED Group, which is also called Banque Populaire, Mr Olivier Klein and his team visited Vientiane last week to look for more business opportunities.
BFL now has 113 employees and 13 branches in Vientiane, Pakxe, Luang Prabang and Savannakhet and will extend its network this year to 25 branches throughout the country.
“We are happy that we are doing very good business here,” said Mr Klein. “This is my first visit here and we want to see what more we can do in Laos in the future.”
BRED developed its activities in Laos in 2010 through the creation of BFL with BCEL.
“We had a good partner here and were confident in the economy, so we decided to set up the bank. We chose this country as we feel comfortable with it and are doing well,” he added.
“The Lao government's policy on investment is also encouraging and we have good support from the people here.”
“We are here for long term growth, so we wish to create trust by doing our best,” Mr Klein added.
“When we have established a successful profile here we might look at extending our business into neighbouring countries like Thailand and Vietnam.”
Mr Klein said the bank aims to attract customers by stressing the importance of good service. “Banking products and technology are similar amongst most banks, but better service can make us different.”
BFL managing director Mr Guillaume Perdon said the bank is not only focused on French nationals and Europeans, it takes good care of all its clients of which about 80 percent are Lao.
“We also try to help Lao SMEs. We review their business plans in order to provide loans instead of demanding a property deposit.”
BRED Banque Populaire deputy chief executive officer, Mr Yves Jacquot, said that even though there are more banks in Laos, the competition is less strong compared to neighbouring countries. The Lao economy also keeps growing, so there are more op portunities for us to grow.”
BFL is developing a retail bank based on the experience of the leading Lao bank, BCEL, as well as the dynamism of Laos, which is located in the heart of an economic growth area and is now a member of the World Trade Organisation. BRED Group also develops specific services for the Lao community in France.
Confident in the Lao economy and BCEL management, BRED deepened its partnership in 2011 through the purchase of a 10 percent stake in BCEL, which ensures active cooperation between the two institutions, especially in training and IT.
BRED, the first regional bank with BPCE, France's second-largest banking group, is a cooperative bank founded 94 years ago, with the aim of financing the local economy.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update February 18, 2013)