Hana Financial Group and SK Telecom -- one of the five biggest lenders and the largest mobile carrier by subscribers in South Korea, respectively -- are ramping up a joint initiative to expand their presence in fintech, an industry built on making the best of financial and tech companies amid a rush to a digitalized economy.
The partnership is the latest highlight of a race to outgrow the traditional financial systems by the five banking giants: KB Kookmin, Shinhan, Hana, Woori and NongHyup. The groups have either reached out to tech companies or launched dedicated tech teams in-house to deal with increasing transactions -- financial and nonfinancial -- taking place online.
Web 3, a decentralized internet running on the record-keeping blockchain technology, will be the No. 1 priority in the joint digital push, the two companies said Sunday, noting the efforts will also be led by SK Square, the investment arm of the country’s second-largest conglomerate SK Group.
“Hana Financial Group and SK Telecom have come together for innovation in digital finance, our very first step forward,” Hana Financial Group Chairman Ham Young-joo said, stressing the need to ride out challenges ahead together.
The three companies will not only invest in startups making strides in the Web 3 technology, but come up with platforms themselves, so that users who have signed up for Hana financial services can also “seamlessly enter” into services like mobile, e-commerce and satellite navigation -- all of which SK Telecom and Square offer. The SK users will in turn enjoy better terms and conditions on their Hana credit cards, for example, according to the firms.
“From now on, we will be at the forefront, enhancing customer experience and prioritizing social good,” SK Telecom CEO Ryu Young-sang said, referring to steps to raise public awareness of “social entrepreneurs,” who pursue financial gains all the while applying strategies to address environmental, social and governance problems hampering sustainable growth.
Businesses conscious of the ESG principles will be given opportunities to expand their operation, with young entrepreneurs seeking to build one also receiving the help they need, Ryu said, adding young Koreans will have tools to boost their financial literacy or learn ways to responsibly manage money.
Meanwhile, self-employed workers running small or medium-sized businesses will get cheaper loans to grow their shops; more painstaking efforts like introducing unmanned businesses in the face of the pandemic will also be supported, according to Ryu.
The three companies repeatedly stressed what they call “hyper-cooperation” -- a united front local businesses seek to counter stronger global adversaries.