3 consortia apply for Internet-only bank licenses


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Three consortia, led respectively by fintech firm Viva Republica, brokerage Kiwoom Securities and the newly formed Anyband Smart Bank, have submitted their applications to win licenses for new Internet-only banks, the financial regulator said Wednesday.

If they receive licenses, they would set up more Internet-only banks in South Korea early next year. Two Internet-only banks — K-Bank and Kakao Bank — were launched in 2017, challenging traditional banks and forcing them to cut commission fees and revamp their online and mobile banking services.

Viva Republica, which operates the popular financial services app Toss, formed a consortium that includes Hanwha Investment & Securities and foreign venture capital firms such as Altos Ventures of the United States and Goodwater Capital of Britain.

Kiwoom Securities is part of a consortium that includes Hana Financial Holdings and SK Telecom.

The third consortium, Anyband Smart Bank, is led by three people but does not yet have shareholders, the regulator said.

After reviewing their applications, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) will decide in May on whether to give preliminary approval to open an Internet-only bank.

The FSC has said it can give preliminary approval to two Internet-only banks in May but hinted that it might approve only one group.

Last September, the National Assembly passed a bill that allows non-financial firms to boost their stake in Internet-only banks beyond the 4 percent ownership ceiling.

The new bill permits non-financial firms to hold up to a 34 percent stake in a web-only bank. (Yonhap)


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