Bank heads promise more digitization, responsible governanceMajor financial groups vowed to strengthen their digital services in the new year as big tech companies like Naver and Kakao have emerged as competitors in the financial business and contactless services are crucial during the coronavirus pandemic.
"With big tech companies entering the financial industry backed by loosened government regulations and the digitization of financial services, the separation between [finance and the tech sector] is being blurred," said Yoon Jong-kyoo, chairman of KB Financial Group, during an online address on Monday. "Covid-19 has also accelerated change in Korea's financial business environment as social distancing became a new habit in our everyday lives."
As a major digitization strategy, Yoon said the group needs to strengthen its online and mobile service platforms to better meet customer needs.
Tech companies are known for their accessible digital platforms, such as mobile messenger app KakaoTalk for Kakao. Money transfers and payment, as well as shopping services are integrated into the messenger app so users have easy access.
Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Cho Yong-byoung said the group needs to cooperate with tech companies and make bold investments into companies with great digital technology, as the group's future depends on digital transformation.
The group heads also agreed that meeting global standards in environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) aspects has become crucial in sustainable business.
Woori Financial Group Chairman Sohn Tae-seung said the group will move in step with the government-led 2050 carbon-neutrality drive to carry out its social responsibility projects in his address for the new year.
NongHyup Financial Group Chairman Son Byung-hwan said the group will play its part by offering social financing programs targeting farmers and small business operators and by keeping to ESG requirements in managing the group during his address.
Major financial groups have already established ESG-dedicated committees or business units during the year-end reshuffle to focus on sustainable business practices this year.
Korea Development Bank (KDB) Chairman Lee Dong-gull said the bank will inject its resources into supporting green, fintech and smart city businesses this year and also help local exporters in the environmentally friendly car, bio and semiconductor sectors pursue new businesses to keep Korea's competitive edge in those industries, during his New Year's address Monday.
BY KIM JEE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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