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Kakao Bank further cements status as No. 1 internet bank

Kakao Bank, South Korea's second internet-only bank, said Monday that it swung to a net profit in the first nine months of 2019 from a year earlier, further distancing itself from its only rival, K-Bank, in terms of profitability.

The bank posted a net profit of 15.4 billion won ($13 million) in the January-September period, shifting from a net loss of 15.9 billion won a year earlier, according to data posted on the website of the Korea Federation of Banks.

The bank posted a net profit of 6.6 billion won in the first quarter of 2019, for the first time since July 2017 when it started operations. Kakao Bank racked up a profit in the past three quarters in a row.


Kakao Bank, led by Kakao Corp., operator of South Korea's dominant messaging app KakaoTalk, has gained popularity among mobile-savvy customers in recent years.

The two internet-only banks are open around the clock and all of their services can be done without face-to-face contact between customers and bank branches, offering great convenience to many bank customers who don't have the time to visit lenders during work hours.

Kakao Bank is also pushing for an initial public offering next year in a move that could further fuel competition in the local banking sector that was controlled by brick-and-mortar banks in the past.

In stark contrast, K-Bank said its net loss widened to 74.2 billion won in the January-September period, from a net loss of 58 billion won from a year earlier.

In April, the Financial Services Commission halted its review of a plan by KT Corp. to raise its stake in K-Bank, citing an anti-trust investigation into the telecom giant.

The commission's decision thwarted K-Bank's plan to raise 592 billion won via a rights offering.

K-bank, which started operations in 2017, suspended lending services to customers in April due to lack of capital. (Yonhap)