Kakao may buy its way into brokerage trade

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Kakao may buy its way into brokerage trade

Kakao, a leading information technology company, may be going into the securities business by buying a small brokerage called Baro Investment & Securities, according to local media outlets Tuesday.

Reports said that Kakao Pay, the payment subsidiary of Kakao, is in discussions with Shinan Company, a local real estate developer, to buy a controlling stake in Baro for about 50 billion won ($44 million). Shinan Capital, a consumer finance unit of Shinan Company, holds a 100 percent stake in Baro.

A spokesperson at Kakao Pay said the company is looking into different ways to expand into financial services.

“Nothing has been decided yet,” the source said, “but we are considering different ways to provide diverse financial services including securities trading for our users.”

Incorporated in the popular Kakao Talk messenger to provide payment and mobile wallet services, Kakao Pay currently has 23 million users with a market share of around 40 percent in the mobile money transfer market.

But since peer-to-peer payments are done without any fees, the platform needs another line of businesses to generate profit.

Analysts expected Kakao Pay to follow in the footsteps of other mobile payment apps by bringing financial products onto its platform.

Toss, the country’s largest money transfer app, has pursued that strategy, as have other such companies around the world. The app started off with free money transfers and expanded into an asset management platform with recommended securities products.

Kakao Pay competed to buy Fund Online Korea, a local fund supermarket operator, in June, but lost out to Korea Securities Finance Corporation.

Founded in 2008, Baro Investment & Securities posted 57.3 billion won in sales and 7.3 billion won in profit last year and has 41.9 billion won in capital.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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