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[Global Finance Awards] Kakao Bank makes waves as convenient mobile bank

Kakao Bank, South Korea’s second internet-only bank, has emerged as a cost-effective, convenient and user-friendly banking service for the smartphone-savvy population.

Led by Korea’s mobile messaging giant Kakao, Kakao Bank has secured more than 4.35 million accounts as of the end of October, three months after it opened to the public. Of them, around 73 percent have registered for debit cards linked to the accounts.

Among 1,500 Kakao Bank users aged 20 to 59 that were surveyed, 76.5 percent said they were satisfied with the internet bank, while 77 percent said they would recommend it to others, suggesting the bank’s potential to expand its user base by word-of-mouth, it said.

Check cards issued by Kakako Bank (Kakao Bank)
Check cards issued by Kakako Bank (Kakao Bank)

Kakao Bank’s biggest advantages included being able to make transfers without the need for a public authentication certificate, the app’s easy user interface and cheap transfer fees, the survey found.

In the three months since its opening, Kakao Bank attracted deposits worth around 4.02 trillion won ($3.6 billion) and extended loans worth 3.39 trillion won. It has also hosted more than 34,000 overseas wire transfers, riding on its low fees that are around 90 percent cheaper than those of conventional banks.

Looking ahead, Kakao, in partnership with the Korea Housing-Finance Corporation, will launch by early 2018 a new mortgage loan product that users can register for through the Kakao Bank mobile app at their convenience.

It is also preparing a new all-in-one payment service called “payinfo” which will allow users to pay their bills including those for cellphones and insurance as well as state taxes, via their Kakao Bank accounts.

The internet bank’s partnership with Korean retail giant Lotte will also unfold next year. The two plan to jointly launch a new direct-from-account payment service, a new credit card as well as unique financial products combining the two firms’ strengths in their respective fields.

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