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Kakao Bank triples operating profit

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

South Korea’s top internet-only bank Kakao Bank said Wednesday that its operating profit nearly tripled in the first three months this year over soaring demand for mobile loan services and stock trading accounts.

The internet-only bank’s operating profit came in at 18.4 billion won ($15 million) in the first quarter, up from 6.4 billion a year before.

Founded in January, 2016, the company posted losses in the first couple of years, but made a turnaround in 2019 with a net profit of 13.7 billion won.

In the first quarter this year, it earned 18.5 billion won in net profit, up 181.3 percent from a year earlier. It raked in 84.4 billion won of net interest margin, up from 54.5 billion won in the same period last year. The firm’s losses from fee-related services improved from 14.8 billion to 3.1 billion won during the same year.

The improvement in fee losses was driven by the growth of recommendation services for loan products offered by the bank’s partner firms, and a service that allows users to open a stock account at NH Investment & Securities.

“Losses from fees will be further reduced in the second quarter thanks to fee incomes generated by credit cards that the company started issuing in partnership with other companies from last month,” an official from the online bank said.

As of March, Kakao Bank’s overall assets are valued at 23.4 trillion won, up 43.6 percent on-year. The total deposit and loan balances totaled 21.3 trillion won and 16.7 trillion won, respectively.

Meanwhile, Kakao Bank’s competition with its local rival K bank to take the lion’s share will likely become fiercer as the latter will be backed by credit card processing firm BC Card. In April, BC Card, owned by telecom giant KT, said that it would acquire a 10 percent stake in K bank for 36.3 billion won while increasing its stake to 34 percent in total in stages.

“With the rise of non-face-to-face services in the banking sector due to the coronavirus pandemic, the online banks are expected to gain growth momentum in earnest in the coming months,” an industry official said.

By Kim Young-won (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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