Citibank Korea globalizes all ATMs ... spending money in Korea now even easier

Citibank Korea globalizes all ATMs ... spending money in Korea now even easier

Move means no more fees or exasperated ATM-kicking for foreign travelers at Citibanks throughout South Korea
citibank korea
If it were up to us, we'd think about posting that sign for globalized ATMs in English. Just saying.

Banking in Korea just got more convenient for foreign travelers who bank with Citibank.

First time travelers to the country are often bewildered by how difficult it is to find an ATM that accepts their foreign card for cash withdrawals, as most local ATMs don't accept them and “global ATMs” can be found only at a few select locations throughout the country.

Due to a steady and large influx of inbound travelers to Korea, and the forecast of millions of visitors expected to arrive for the Yeosu World Expo opening on May 12, Citibank Korea has decided to globalize every ATM at all of its 220 branches in the country.

Previously, about 10 percent of Citibank ATMs in the country had been globalized.

Korea Exchange Bank, Shinhan Bank and Woori Bank are the only other local banks offering globalized ATMs, albeit at limited locations. Citibank is the first in Korea to globalize all of its ATMs.

While the move sounds like an expensive and complicated step, it turns out that it isn't as laborious to execute as it may sound. 

"The ATMs in place actually all had the globalized software since 2007, but it wasn't activated until this move of signing a new deal with international credit card companies," said marketing manager Cho Chong-Soo.

"So it didn't actually cost us anything, but if we were to have physically changed all the programs, then it would have cost around 450 million (US$398,000)." 

Reacting to tourist and traveler boom

Citibank cited Jeju Island’s recent selection as one of the world’s New 7 Wonders and the Visit Korea Year 2010-2012 campaign as factors influencing its decision. 

“We looked at data from Korea Tourism Organization and other institutions about the increasing number of travelers and their needs,” said Cho.

According to the Korea Tourism Organization, approximately 9.79 million foreign tourists traveled to Korea in 2011, posting significant growth from 8.79 million in 2010 and 7.81 million in 2009. 

At Citibank's new globalized ATMs, fees have been waived for cash withdrawals by foreign credit cards (other banks still charge a fee of around US$3-$5), which means travelers are getting preferential treatment over locals, who have to pay a fee to withdrawl money with a card from another local bank or during non-business hours.

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