Interest picks up for new licenses for online banks

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Interest picks up for new licenses for online banks

Partners are slowly coming together to bid for up to two new licenses for online banks.

A consortium led by Viva Republica, operator of the popular money transfer app Toss, and Shinhan Financial Group invited rising start-ups such as Jikbang, a real estate app, Cafe24, an e-commerce platform provider, and fashion retailer Musinsa to join, according to news reports.

Both Shinhan and Toss said that discussions with potential partners are underway.

“We are still in discussions and will make an official news release this week,” a spokesperson for Toss said.

Toss registered the trademark Toss Bank with the Korean Intellectual Property Office, although the official name of any bank eventually set up has yet to be announced. Market insiders said that Toss will likely become the largest stakeholder in the bank.

Jikbang is an app that gives information on studio or one-bedroom apartments available for rent. Real estate agents upload properties for rent on the app and potential tenants can contact the agents after looking at photos and the price.

Founded in 2011, Jikbang has received a total of 66.5 billion won ($58.7 million) in investment, and analysts estimate Jikbang’s worth at around 700 billion won.

Started in 1999, Cafe24 is an e-commerce platform provider that helps small- and medium-sized businesses establish online and mobile storefronts. Its services range from customizing a website and providing ready-to-use templates to processing payments.

The company went public last year on the junior Kosdaq bourse and its market cap stood at 1.1 trillion won on Monday.

Musinsa is an online fashion mall focusing on men’s wear with three million registered members on its site.

Another possible consortium is that of Kiwoom Securities, SK Telecom and Hana Financial Group.

Media reports said that the group is trying to rope in 11st, the country’s largest e-commerce platform by the number of visitors and an affiliate of SK Telecom.

SK Telecom said that the three companies are still in talks.

That group will be led by Kiwoom Securities. Other retailers including WeMakePrice and BGF Retail, the company behind convenience store chain CU, have also expressed interest.

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

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