KB heading to temples
By Kim Tae-jong
KB Kookmin Bank will hold various marketing events in association with the Jogye Order, the nation’s largest Buddhist sect, to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday, which falls today.
The county’s biggest lender by assets plans to take full advantage of the occasion to attract customers and deposits.
According to the bank, it has put up banners at 100 temples across the country to mark the special day and will offer congratulations, as well as gifts to people who participate in the lotus lantern festival that accompanies the celebrations.
“It is a good chance for us to attract customers and deposits,” an official from the lender said. “People say about 80 percent of the Buddhist sect’s budget comes in on Buddha’s Birthday through contributions and donations.”
It is the biggest holiday for about 6 million Buddhists, and KB expects to attract new customers through the marketing.
It is the first official marketing event since KB Kookmin Bank became the main bank of about 2,000 temples in the Jogye Order after a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed in October. Previously, Nonghyup Bank was the order’s main bank.
“We don’t expect all the Buddhist believers and temples to change their main banks all of a sudden. So we will gradually encourage them, through various channels, to choose us as their main bank, and that’s why Buddha’s Birthday is so important to us,” the official said.
It is known that the Jogye Order is also encouraging temples and Buddhists to change to KB,.
The close relationship between the bank and the Buddhist community is also attributed to KB Kookmin Bank President Min Byong-deok’s long affection for the religion.
He graduated from Buddhist schools such as Bomoon High School and Dongguk University and now serves as chairman of the Association to Support Buddhism in the Military. He was also chosen as the best Buddhist believer on May 17 by the Jogye Order for his contribution to the religion.
But there are some people who raise concerns over the “religion marketing.”
“KB Kookmin Bank’s close relationship with one certain religion may backfire as other religions may find it discriminative,” a market insider said.
Regarding such concerns, KB also emphasized that their marketing does not favor a certain religion.
“We know that it is a very sensitive issue, so we have taken a very careful stance on this,” the official said.
Meanwhile, Nonghyup Bank has come up with various measures not to lose customers as the size of transactions between the Buddhist circle and the lender was estimated at a minimum of hundreds of billions of won.
Nonghyup Financial Group Chairman Shin Choon-shik has been making efforts to maintain a close relationship with Jogye Order.
Nonghyup signed an MOU with the Jogye Order on May 10 to strengthen their mutual cooperation. Nonghyup promised to offer financial support to the order for the protection of cultural heritage and corporate social responsible activities as well as low-interest loans to temples.