Models of Standard Chartered (SC) Bank Korea promotes the Seoul-based lender’s product of the SC My Signature Account. The bank has started a marketing event offering generous interest rates to new customers. Photo courtesy of SC Bank Korea

Korean lender promises high interest rates

Standard Chartered (SC) Bank Korea announced on April 22 that it had launched a marketing event of guaranteeing high interest rates to new customers.

The product, dubbed the “SC My Signature Account,” will be available to new clients through May 31 with annual interest rates of up to 2 percent.

In case transactions top 100 million won in a specific month, the customer would receive the 1.7 percent interest rate for funds saved longer than a month.

And newcomers would gain a bonus rate of 0.3 percent so that the maximum total can reach 2 percent, according to the Seoul-based lender.

Through a lottery, SC Bank also plans to provide presents to customers whose balance is higher than 100 million won as of the end of this June.

Included in the gift list are massage chairs, air purifiers, iPad Air, and department store gift certificates.

Since its debut last July, the SC My Signature Account has attracted interest at a time when great uncertainties lingered in the market.

“The SC My Signature Account is a checking account but offers generous interest rates. Hence a mounting number of folks want to savor its benefits,” an SC Bank official said.

“We also have other checking accounts, which are helpful to people at a time when the borrowing costs are set to go up.”

Observers point out that similar products would continue to hit the market as the benchmark interest rates go up.

“Just like the United States, our interest rate is expected to keep rising. Hence, more and more people would care about bank accounts rather than investing in real estate or the stock market,” Prof. Seo Yong-gu at Sookmyung Women’s University said.

“Against this backdrop, banks are likely to stage stiff competition to win the hearts and minds of interest-rate-sensitive customers.”

Earlier this month, the Bank of Korea raised the key borrowing rate by 0.25 percentage points to 1.5 percent. Since last August, the central bank jacked up the rate from 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent to deal with the inflationary pressure.

The Bank of Korea is expected to keep cranking up the rate down the road.