[Global Finance Awards] KB Kookmin Bank brings digital transformation to finance services



South Korea’s KB Kookmin Bank is continuing to digitally transform its diverse finance service offerings, with the aim of delivering more innovative and convenient banking services to its customers in both online and offline settings.

Bringing a digital touch to traditional mobile finance apps, KB introduced a chatbot banking platform last year called “Liiv Talk Talk,” which allows customers to activate certain banking services by conversing with a smart chatbot.

The bank was also the first among Korea’s major banks to launch a mobile platform that provides integrated real estate information and related financial products and loans.

KB Kookmin Bank CEO Hur Yin demonstrates the “smart teller machine” at KB’s Yeouido branch in August 2018. The machine connects customers to bank employees via video chat, enabling them to complete banking tasks that previously required a physical visit to the bank. Examples include applying for credit cards and creating new accounts. (KB Kookmin Bank)

Bridging the offline and online worlds, KB launched a mobile app-connected digital piggy bank running on internet-of-things technology. It was designed to encourage good saving habits among children and families.

Banking services that previously required a physical visit to a bank can now be accessed via mobile apps — including the Play Asset app, which utilizes a “robo-adviser” that recommends investment products and funds to customers.

Moreover, KB has focused on transforming its major banking and finance services into “mobile-only” platforms. Its main banking app, “KB Star Banking,” adopted a series of updates last year, including a new feature that lets users view their account information immediately without logging in.

KB has also added a “quick transfer” feature to the banking app, which lets users make simple money transfers without having to input a password, access a security tool or provide a digital signature.

To improve accessibility, the bank has introduced a “smart teller machine” that connects customers to KB employees via video chat and remotely carry out banking tasks that previously required physical visits to the bank. These include biometric authentication changes and account creation procedures.

Diverse forms of biometric authentication are now available within the main KB Kookmin Bank mobile app, including iris scanning as well as pulse and voice recognition. Blockchain-based security-authentication procedures have been adopted as well.

Since its initial launch in 2016, KB’s lifestyle finance app “Liiv” has also grown into a popular app that provides simplified payment, money withdrawal and transfer services, according to KB.

Cooperation with outside partners is also part of KB’s digital transformation strategy. The bank joined hands with Samsung Electronics and mobile carrier SK Telecom to introduce KB’s main mobile app on devices.

It also developed an open application programming interface portal that can be accessed by interested developers to build apps that are compatible with KB’s services. The bank is also working with fintech startups to develop a series of cloud-based platforms.

Customer service improvement is another major goal for KB’s digital transformation push. With its new ARS-free call center, KB now allows customers who call their customer service number to get in touch with a customer service representative directly.

As another example of its efforts to upgrade customer service, phone records from customer service conversations are being used to “train” artificial-intelligence-equipped customer service chatbots, the bank said.

By Sohn Ji-young (jys@heraldcorp.com)

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