Brokerage firms adjust to a changing market

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Brokerage firms adjust to a changing market

Korean brokerage firms are offering unprecedented services in a bid to diversify their businesses and survive the competition with banks.

In the wake of new technologies and innovative services such as individual savings accounts, the barriers that divided the financial industry are crumbling as the government strives to boost the domestic economy and improve investment options for consumers.

NH Investment & Securities on Wednesday reached a memorandum of understanding with BGF Retail, the operator of the nation’s biggest convenience store chain CU, to have automated teller machines (ATM) that enable brokerage account transactions at branches.

NH became the first brokerage house in Korea to allow people open securities accounts at a convenience store. So far, people were only allowed to open an account at a financier and on mobile apps.

The special ATM machines with securities transaction services started to operate on Wednesday at a CU branch located in Geumho-dong, Seongdong District, in eastern Seoul.

“I hope the new service will help people to access the securities services easier, as we’ve welcomed an era when online becomes the core arena for financial services and offline becomes a supplementary means,” said NH Investment & Securities CEO Kim Won-kyu at the agreement signing ceremony.

NH offers fee-free cash withdrawal service for its customers on the CU ATM machines. The machines will allow NH customers to send money as well as open securities accounts.

BGF said it will install the service at more branches this year. The nation’s largest convenience store chain has nearly 9,600 affiliated branches nationwide operating some 10,000 ATM machines.

Yuanta Securities launched a check card this week for the first time in the local brokerage industry to attract more financial customers and encourage investor to trade more. So far, only banks and credit card companies have issued check cards.

The new check card gives back 0.5 percent of the payments made with the card in cash, for those Yuanta customers who make transactions of 1 million won or more a month. The cash is paid to the securities account in the following month. Cashback of 1 percent of the total check card payment is given to customers with transactions of 100 million won ($83,855) a month.

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