Focus is innovation at big fintech conference

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Focus is innovation at big fintech conference

Government officials and major financial firms voiced their determination to push for innovation at Korea’s largest financial technology conference on Tuesday.

The Korea Fintech Industry Association opened the two-day 2018 Fintech Conference on Tuesday in Yeouido, western Seoul. The association is made up of over 300 member companies involved in financial technology, or fintech, including notable members such as Kakao Pay. The conference was sponsored by various government agencies, including the Financial Services Commission (FSC) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

About 50 speakers from 30 companies and public agencies came to discuss the future of financial innovation in Korea under the theme of “Evolution of Finance, Fintech Revolution.”

The conference opened with remarks from government officials. Representatives from the ruling Democratic Party and the opposition Liberty Korea Party and Bareunmirae Party emphasized the need for government support in nurturing the fintech industry.

“China has a fintech industry worth trillions of dollars because the Chinese government allowed companies to freely experiment with innovative services,” said Liberty Korea Party Rep. Song Hee-Kgyoung. “By contrast, the Korean government only eased regulations on internet-only banks, although the National Assembly’s Special Committee on the Fourth Industrial Revolution has recommended 105 different innovative regulations.”

Officials from the FSC described what the financial regulator was specifically doing to promote innovation in the sector. The FSC previously announced that it had reserved 8 billion won ($7.1 million) of its 2019 budget for the fintech industry.

“We are pushing for the speedy adoption of a special law on financial innovation, which will enable firms to experiment with new financial services and help them successfully launch their services in the market,” said FSC Vice Chairman Kim Yong-beom.

The bill on the special law on financial innovation that was submitted in March is currently being held in the National Assembly.

Executives at Korea’s leading financial firms then took the stage to discuss how their innovative services are changing the way people manage their finances and make transactions.

“Though Toss started off as a money remittance service, our app has evolved into a general financial platform that allows people to manage their investments, loans and even insurance,” said Lee Seung-gun, CEO of Viva Republica, which operates Toss.

Toss has 10 million users, which means 20 percent of all Koreans use the service.

The head of Kakao Pay also discussed how his company’s payment service was disrupting the domestic financial industry. Around 13 million people every month use Kakao Pay - which is integrated with Kakao Talk - to transfer money and pay for goods and services online and offline.

“With Kakao Pay, consumers don’t need to carry their wallets when they go to the store or take a taxi,” said Kakao Pay CEO Ryu Young-joon. “Users can pay their utility bills using Kakao Pay, and from today, they can even invest in stocks and funds. Kakao Pay is revolutionizing the way money moves in Korea.”

Big-data technology was also discussed as a major game-changer in the financial industry.

“Using our service, users of Line in Japan can check all of their financial data, from card usage to securities, directly through the messaging app,” said Kim Jong-hyun, CEO of Coocon, which collects and shares consumer data from 2,500 institutions worldwide. “Big data is becoming the oil of the 21st century.”

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