All bank branches in Taiwan are expected to offer Chinese-English bilingual services by 2030, Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) Chairman Wellington Koo (顧立雄) said yesterday, reiterating the government’s goal of making Taiwan a bilingual nation.
Banks would not need to require every staff member at their branches to speak English fluently, but each branch should have at least two or three employees who can serve foreign clients, Koo told reporters after visiting two branches run by Mega International Commercial Bank (兆豐銀行) and DBS Bank Taiwan (星展台灣) in Taipei’s Tianmu (天母) area.
The two branches were designated by the commission as role models for other banks, it said.
“We want banks to build a bilingual environment first and make gradual improvements as 2030 approaches,” he said.
To be considered bilingual, branches should also have information on electronic boards and signs in Chinese and English, Koo said.
They should have new account application forms that are only in English so that foreign clients do not become confused, he said after discovering that disclaimers on Mega Bank’s bilingual forms were only in Chinese.
DBS is basing the development of its bilingual services on those provided by its Singapore-based parent company, Koo said.
Mega Bank’s plan to make all of its 108 branches bilingual by 2028 surprised him, Koo said, adding that the model branch also has employees who can speak Japanese and French.
Mega Financial Holding Co (兆豐金控) chairman Michael Chang (張兆順) said that the bank plans to offer bilingual services at nine other branches by the end of next year, and would extend its bilingual service to another 59 branches by 2024 and the remaining 39 branches by 2028.
Mega has about 10,820 foreign clients, who interact with bank employees mostly for deposits and credit card applications, Chang said.
Forty percent of the Tianmu branch employees have scored an average of 650 points on the Test of English for International Communication, up from the bank-wide average of 20 percent, the bank said.
“Sometimes it is just a lack of confidence that prevents Taiwanese from speaking English,” DBS Bank Taiwan general manager Lim Him-chuan (林鑫川) said, adding that the bank routinely sends its employees to Singapore for training.
“DBS will soon offer bilingual services at five other branches,” he said.
Other banks — eight state-run banks and six privately owned banks — have expressed the willingness to provide bilingual services at some of their branches, the commission said.
American Chamber of Commerce chairman Leo Seewald yesterday said that Taiwan’s banking industry is progressing and becoming more friendly to foreigners.
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