Interest low at briefing for new internet banks

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Interest low at briefing for new internet banks

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The country’s financial authorities held an information session to explain the application and bidding process for new internet-only banks Wednesday, attracting different non-banking corporations as well as major banks and medium-sized financial institutions.

But there was noticeably less interest this time compared to in 2015, when regulators selected the operators of the country’s first Internet-only banks.

The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), a financial watchdog that jointly oversees the bidding with the Financial Services Commission (FSC), said a total of 55 companies attended Wednesday’s presentation on the application process to gain the license required to open two new internet-only banks.

The regulator declined to reveal the specific names of participants, but local media reports and analysts said that financiers such as Shinhan Bank, KEB Hana Bank, NongHyup Bank, Kiwoom Securities, Kyobo Life Insurance and Japan’s SBI Holdings took part in the session.

“[Kiwoom Securities] is expected to file an application in March after forming a consortium with tech companies,” said Park Hye-jin, an analyst at eBEST Investment & Securities.

Other non-financial companies cited include e-commerce operators Interpark and WeMakePrice.

Interpark, which threw its hat into the ring back in 2015, said it will not be applying for approval to run an internet-only bank.

“It is true that we attended the session, but it was to gain insight into the business trend,” said a spokesperson at Interpark. “Still, we stick to an earlier decision to not enter the internet-only bank industry.”

Industry observers expected the online retailer to throw its hat in the ring. In 2015, Interpark formed a consortium with SK Telecom, NHN Entertainment, Yello Financial Group, Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK), NH Investment & Securities and GS Home Shopping, but failed to get approval from authorities.

Interpark is not alone in pulling out of the race.

Naver, one of the likeliest bidders, said Monday that it also has no plans to launch an internet-only bank.

It dealt a blow to financial regulators and lawmakers since they strived to ease regulations on IT companies investing in an Internet-only bank. Following a series of debates, the National Assembly passed a bill last year aimed at increasing the maximum stake that a non-financial company can hold in an Internet bank.


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

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