South Korea’s Viva Republica, the operator of popular local peer-to-peer money transfer app Toss, teamed up with traditional lender Standard Chartered Bank Korea (SCB Korea) to up its chance of winning the third license for internet-only bank.
According to industry sources on Monday, Viva Republica formed a consortium with SCB Korea to file for a preliminary license for the country’s third internet-only bank with the Financial Services Commission (FSC). The FSC will accept applications from Thursday to Sunday.
This is the second bid by Viva Republica. Its first attempt in March did not go through as the financial authority in May questioned its business and funding prospectuses.
The fintech company has sought a partner with stable financial base and will reduce its holding to raise its likelihood. SCB Korea exploring new growth engines in saturated Korean market took up the offer.
The first internet-only bank K-Bank was launched in April 2017 and the second Kakao Bank a few months later. The two online-only banks enjoyed explosive growth at an early stage on the back of financial support from their major stakeholders KB Kookmin Bank and Woori Bank, respectively.
The team of a fintech leader and a traditional bank could pose a formidable challenge to the two earlier players if it gets the green light from the FSC, industry observers said.
Other than Viva Republica-SCB Korea, two more contenders have joined the race, according to sources.
Encouraged by the burgeoning demand for internet-only banking services, the country immediately took steps to add a third player to the fledgling market. But regulators nevertheless imposed stricter requirements amid questions surrounding the financial health of K-Bank.
The FSC did not disclose the business prospectuses of previous contenders Kiwoom Securities and Viva Republica to allow them to re-bid. It aims to announce the results of the new bid by the end of this year.
By Choi Seung-jin and Lee Ha-yeon
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]