Banking groups vow digital innovation in 2018

By Bae Hyun-jung
  • Published : Jan 2, 2018 - 17:54
  • Updated : Jan 2, 2018 - 17:54
South Korea’s leading banking groups on Tuesday vowed to achieve innovation in the digital finance sector this year, seeking to vie with burgeoning financial technology rookies and internet-only banks.

KB Financial Group, the nation’s top banking group by market capitalization, said that it would become the industry’s “first mover” by incorporating new digital technology and co-working with fintech startups.

“We shall build a new KB-centered financial ecosystem and further secure digital competitiveness, so as to become the first mover (in the industry),” said Chairman Yoon Jong-kyoo in his New Year’s address.

KB Financial is anticipated to beat longtime competitor Shinhan Financial Group in net profit for 2017, in which case it would retrieve the No. 1 position for the first time in nine years.

According to market researcher FN Guide, KB Financial’s net profit for the fourth quarter of last year is estimated at 656.2 billion won ($618 million), compared to Shinhan Financial’s 599.6 billion won.
(From left) KB Financial Group Chairman Yoon Jong-kyoo, Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Cho Yong-byoung, Hana Financial Group Chairman Kim Jung-tae, Woori Bank CEO Sohn Tae-seung.

Cho Yong-byoung, chairman of Shinhan Financial, suggested the slogan of “2020 Smart Project” and vowed to become a pioneer amid volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

“Our task is to make a swift transition to Digital Shinhan and to accelerate our strategy for One Shinhan,” he said, underlining the need for a comprehensive operation platform.

“For this, we shall fundamentally innovate our manpower portfolio and rebuild our corporate DNA.”

Hana Financial Group Chairman Kim Jung-tae, while recognizing the urgent need for digital evolution, stressed that digital technology and financial services should always focus on people.

“Digital business is eventually about satisfying users and their everyday financial needs,” he said.

Spurring key banking groups’ rush for digital financing last year was the successful launch of Kakao Bank, the nation’s second internet-only bank.

Though its business still remains in the red, the new bank quickly rose to public attention by attracting close to 5 million users during the first six months of its launch, and the creation of over 240,000 new accounts within its first day of operation.

Woori Bank, which came under fire last year over a recruitment scandal and a consequent leadership overhaul, vowed to regain public trust and to restructure itself into a comprehensive financial group.

“Despite challenges, our bank achieved a record-high net profit and built a new digital banking platform,” said Sohn Tae-seung, the new CEO who took office in December.

The top priority goal for Woori Bank this year is to establish the foundation for sustainable profits and growth, said Sohn.

Meanwhile, state-run banks renewed their pledges to support the nation’s economic recovery, focusing on small and medium-sized companies and innovative startups.

“2018 is to become a pivotal inflection point for South Korea’s economy,” said Lee Dong-gull, chairman of Korea Development Bank.

“KDB will lead the country’s successful transition into the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ stage by backing innovative growth and expanding its financial territory.”

Eun Sung-soo, chairman and president of Export-Import Bank of Korea, called for full-fledged efforts to encourage local SMEs in the global market.

“In spite of the recovery trend of the global economy, we still face various challenges such as trade protectionism and changes in global monetary policies,” he said.

“Amid such situations, policy financing should look beyond quantitative growth and focus on long-term corporate growth and employment.”

By Bae Hyun-jung (