South Korea will have its first fully online bank from early next year following the Financial Services Commision’s approval of the establishment of K-Bank on Wednesday.
The FSC endorsed a consortium of 21 shareholders including mobile carrier KT, Woori Bank, NH Investment & Securities, Hanwha Life Insurance, Hong Kong-based Alipay and other information technology startups to officially launch the online bank.
It is the first approval by the FSC for a new bank in the first-tier financial sector in 24 years, and the first for an internet-only bank.
K-Bank will be operated entirely on consumers’ smartphones and other mobile devices, allowing users to create a bank account in 10 minutes, transfer money and apply for a loan on their IT gadgets, without visiting a brick-and-mortar branch or submitting personal documents for identity certification.
The bank will run financial services 24 hours every day of the year, equipped with a machine-learning chatting service named “Chatbot” that will provide customer consultations.
It will also introduce loans with interest rates between 7 percent and 8 percent for consumers with a low credit rating who can only take out a loan with a minimum 15 percent interest rate, as they are marginalized by commercial banks for 2 to 3 percent loans. The bank will set its own credit rating system to filter healthy borrowers. KT will offer its subscriber database, which will include history of phone bill payments, on their consent, in order to help attract users to the bank.