|Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) CEO Kim Do-jin, center, promotes the launch of its online corporate management platform for SMEs, Business Operation eXpert (BOX), at the bank's headquarters in Seoul, August 1. Courtesy of IBK|
Commercial and state-run banks are strengthening online platforms for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), a move to take the upper hand in the market with a relatively handsome profit compared to retail businesses.
Over 20,000 business operators have signed up for Business Operation eXpert (BOX), an online corporate management platform for SMEs launched by Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK), August 1.
The state lender said some 10,000 business operators joined the platform only 10 days after the launch, and the number has since grown much faster than previously expected.
The specifics of the platform was finalized following one-on-one interviews with 2,218 SME CEOs to determine services most in need and measures to boost efficient management.
They include management of production, financing, human resources, accounting and marketing, all of which can be managed online with relatively scant resources.
Services available include lending, hiring, and assistance with overseas expansion followed by meeting arrangements with prospect business partners, corporate real-estate transactions and business transaction record-tracking.
KB Kookmin Bank launched a similar platform, KB Bridge, available only via mobile platform, July 24.
After business operators enter their business license operation number, industry, region of operation, annual sales, and other relevant information, the platform's artificial intelligence-based software recommends the best state financing benefits in order of relevance.
By selecting preferences, recommendations will be narrowed down to best help the firms in stages.
KB also overhauled its corporate online banking service Sept. 18, to improve customer convenience by removing redundancies.
The most notable update is a shortened borrowing process, the most popular and frequently used service that was previously unavailable without an in-person visit to bank branches.
Multiple tasks can be processed simultaneously, another major improvement that boosts user convenience.
Business owners with multiple places of operations will be able to view them all on a single page.
Multiple wiring requests will be processed with a single verification of a passcode, another time-saving measure from the previous version whereby per-transaction passcode verification was required.
Innotalk, the platform launched by Shinhan, meanwhile, focuses on consultations to help promising SMEs become unicorns ― firms with over $1 billion (1.1 trillion won) in corporate value.
Innotalk ― a portmanteau of innovation and talk ― provides information on setting up new businesses, government policies including regulations and subsidies and research on related industries.
It also fosters networking among SMEs, investors, job seekers and startups including fintechs.
Shinhan Financial Group will help select promising candidates draw investment from local and overseas investors.
"The platform will help the SMEs, the backbone of the country, by providing information and services that could help boost corporate profit," a Shinhan official said.