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Kakao Pay to tap deeper into global market with Siebert: CEO

Kakao Pay aims to triple its annual number of transactions to 10 billion by 2026 with personalized services and perks

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : May 15, 2023 - 15:08

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Kakao Pay CEO Shin Won-keun talks during a press conference held at Conrad Seoul in Yeouido, Seoul, Monday. (Yonhap) Kakao Pay CEO Shin Won-keun talks during a press conference held at Conrad Seoul in Yeouido, Seoul, Monday. (Yonhap)

Kakao Pay, the online payment unit of South Korean tech giant Kakao Corp., will step up its stock trading service and expand global footing by launching a solution jointly with US brokerage firm Siebert Financial, the firm's CEO Shin Won-keun said Monday.

“We are considering making a solution that combines Siebert's stock trading solution with Kakao Pay Securities' mobile trading service,” Shin said at the press conference held at Conrad Seoul in Yeouido, Seoul.

In April, Kakao Pay announced that it would acquire a controlling 19.9 percent stake in New York-based Siebert at $17 million.

“Although there are several stock services available in the US, I don't think they cover the same level of sophisticated needs that Korean investors tend to ask for. If we enter the US market with mobile trading service that covers these needs, we believe it can become the next Robinhood,” Shin said. Robinhood refers to the popular stock trading platform that offers commission-free stock trading with no account minimums and fractional share trading.

Listed on the tech-heavy Nasdaq, Siebert provides various brokerage and financial advisory services, including securities brokerage, investment advisory and insurance offerings.

As the Korean company's short-term goal for the global market, Shin said it will expand overseas offline payment service further for Korean tourists.

Currently, there are five countries-- Japan, China, Macau, Singapore and France -- where Kakao Pay can be used for payment at affiliated stores without going through the process of exchanging currencies.

“In particular, in Japan and China, we have established payment ecosystems by forming strategic partnerships with the top local payment companies,” Shin said.

Kakao said the same service will soon be launched in six countries -- Italy, Germany, the UK, Australia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Furthermore, Kakao Pay plans to introduce a system that enables foreign mobile payment services such as Alipay to be used by Korean merchants affiliated with Kakao Pay who have many international customers.

"By making it much easier for foreign tourists to spend money in Korea, it will be economically beneficial to domestic store owners," Shin added.

During the press conference, Shin also talked about the company’s goal to achieve 10 billion annual transactions by 2026.

"Achieving the goal of 10 billion transactions would make Kakao Pay a platform that is used by every Korean over the age of 15 at least once per day for a year,” Shin said.

This goal also means that the company aims to increase the number of transactions to more than three times the current level. Over 30 million users used Kakao Pay last year with its total transaction amount reaching 118 trillion won ($88.2 billion) through 3.2 billion transactions.

To reach this goal, Kakao Pay CEO also presented a blueprint to provide curated services with AI technology and expand discount benefits for users.

“For example, after dining at a restaurant, Kakao Pay may offer coupons for a nearby cafe,” Shin said. “We will also offer discounts for smart mobility users who already paid for public transportation. So after getting off from public transportation, the users can travel by scooters at a discounted price."

Shin also discussed problems that the company had to deal with last year, including service disruption due to a fire at Kakao’s data center, as well as Kakao Pay losing trust from investors after former CEO Ryu Young-joon and seven other executives sold 90 billion won of company shares only a month after Kakao Pay went public in December 2021.

“Last year, all Kakao affiliates faced difficult times dealing with human-made and natural disasters, but we took it as an opportunity to reestablish a strong foundation and regain our initial drive,” he said.

This was the first press conference since Shin took the office in March last year.