Kyobo Life, SBI Holdings, Kiwoon Savings mull internet-only bank


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Financial institutions including Kyobo Life Insurance, SBI Holdings and Kiwoom Savings Bank are mulling jumping into South Korea’s internet-only bank business, reports said Wednesday, backed by the state’s efforts to foster the sector.

The companies attended a briefing session on evaluation for the country’s third internet-only bank scheduled Wednesday, according to industry sources. 

Kyobo Life (Yonhap)

The institutions admitted that they have been eyeing to enter the country’s internet-only banking sector for a while, but stressed they have yet to form a consortium.

“We have decided to attend Wednesday’s briefing session as it is crucial to always pave new roads,” Kyobo Life spokesperson Song Guk-hyun told The Korea Herald, confirming the firm’s attendance at the briefing.

“But we are currently at a stage where we are inspecting all possibilities. We have yet to form a consortium with SBI Holdings and Kiwoom Savings Bank, but as we can’t jump into this alone, cooperating with them is a possibility,” he added.

SBI Savings Bank, which is a South Korean subsidiary of Japanese financial giant SBI Holdings, also acknowledged its parent company’s interest in South Korea’s internet-only banking market, but echoed Kyobo Life’s cautious stance.

“SBI Holdings has been eyeing South Korea’s internet-only banking market, which will be considered as an expansion of its internet banking platform SBI Sumishin Net in Japan,” said a source, who requested anonymity.

“But at the same time, it is taking cautious steps because of the lack of benefit of entering the South Korean market, which is already shared by two majors K bank and Kakao Bank. On top of that, the online banking platforms of local institutions are already well-equipped and developed, adding to its hesitancy,” the source added.

Despite the government’s push, the hesitancy of the financial firms to enter the country’s internet-only bank business is shared by others of different industries.

Earlier this week, reports said that internet portal giant Naver has notified financial authorities that it will not attend Wednesday’s information session. Its IT peers such as Interpark and online game developer NHN Entertainment have already decided to withdraw from the bank race.

Under the Korean banking law, a nonfinancial firm cannot own more than 10 percent in a bank, with voting rights limited to 4 percent. The National Assembly last year passed a bill that relaxes the 4 percent cap to 34 percent to nonfinancial firms.

By Jung Min-kyung ([email protected])

Source : koreaherald


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