The Korea Herald


[KH Explains] Why is Samsung's Monimo losing in financial app game?

Absences of control tower and MyData business license have taken toll on growth of groupwide mobile app

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : June 13, 2023 - 11:48

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A poster promoting Samsung financial affiliates' unified service app Monimo under the brand Samsung Financial Networks (Samsung Card) A poster promoting Samsung financial affiliates' unified service app Monimo under the brand Samsung Financial Networks (Samsung Card)

More than a year has passed since Samsung's financial affiliates launched the comprehensive service app Monimo together, but unfortunately, it has fallen short of market expectations.

Under the brand Samsung Financial Networks, Monimo offers services from four Samsung financial affiliates: Samsung Life Insurance, Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance, Samsung Securities and Samsung Card.

With these affiliates' apps having a total user base of over 25 million — estimated without overlaps — Samsung’s app was expected to pose a threat to existing financial app operators with similar services in Korea, such as Toss Bank and Kakao Bank, which had around 20 million and 18 million monthly active users, respectively, at the time of Monimo's launch in April last year.

However, the monthly active user count for Monimo is estimated at around only 2.2 million as of April, according to industry sources.

The app has also failed to impress users, receiving dismal ratings on both Google Play Store (3.2) and Apple's App Store (1.8).

One comment on Google Play Store review read, "Honestly, this app sucks. The user interface poorly imitates that of Toss, and my experience using this app is utterly miserable."

Industry sources see that one of the primary reasons for the Samsung financial app's underperformance is Samsung Card's failure to obtain the license for the MyData service.

MyData enables customers to conveniently access their comprehensive financial information from various major financial firms through a single online platform. This service plays a crucial role in assisting platform operators with valuable analytics on customer spending patterns and developing customized financial products.

Unlike other local card companies, Samsung Card faced challenges in obtaining the necessary license for MyData due to an institutional warning issued to its largest shareholder, Samsung Life Insurance, by the Financial Service Commission in January 2022. Consequently, both Samsung Card and Samsung Life Insurance were restricted from starting a new business for a year.

The FSC approved Samsung Card's MyData business operation on Sunday.

This approval came approximately two months after the company obtained a preliminary license in April.

"We anticipate that Samsung Card's entry into the MyData business will enable us to provide customers with personalized benefits and a wider range of services. Furthermore, Samsung Financial Networks' Monimo and Samsung Card app will be developed to offer better services," a Samsung Card official said.

While Monimo has some catching up to do, some industry insiders emphasize that obtaining the MyData license alone will not be sufficient in the already saturated Korean financial app market.

"Monimo is a latecomer to customized services using MyData. It is often challenging to differentiate services in the financial market due to regulations, so early movers usually have the advantage. It will be difficult for Monimo to stand out in a current situation," an industry insider said on condition of anonymity.

He also emphasized the importance of creating a service that can appeal beyond the existing Samsung affiliates' customer base for Monimo's success.

The absence of a control tower, with four Samsung affiliates collaborating, is frequently cited as another factor contributing to the app's subpar service.

A Samsung Card official refuted these claims, saying there is a robust decision-making system in place.

“Important discussions and decisions regarding the app are conducted by a committee comprising executives from Samsung's financial affiliates. We do not see that not having a control tower is an issue,” the official said.

The Samsung Card official also addressed rumors suggesting that a collaboration with Samsung Pay could potentially improve the situation for Monimo.

“Samsung Card is just one of the many card companies utilizing the Samsung Pay service and there have been no discussions regarding the integration of Monimo with Samsung Pay. While the possibility of such collaboration may exist in the future, no concrete plans or discussions have taken place thus far,” he said.