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Banks join 'fintech' innovations

Nonghyup Bank will launch "watch" banking services next month, which allows users to check their bank accounts and transaction records via wearable smart watches. / Courtesy of Nonghyup Bank

By Chung Ah-young

Banks are scrambling in their approach to financial technology (fintech) innovation which is replacing traditional financial services.

Fintech is a burgeoning services industry which includes payments from mobile devices, wire transfers, personal asset management and cloud funding.

With the government encouraging lenders to prepare for a paradigm shift in the fintech sector, banks are launching new services converged with information technology.

Nonghyup Bank will introduce "watch" banking services next month, the first of its kind in the nation, , which allows users to check their bank accounts and transaction records and conduct verification via smart watches.

The services will enable users to view real-time account transactions such as money transfers or credit card payments. Also, the bank said the service will soon allow users to send money with just one touch.

"We will continue to provide financial services which cater to customers' needs through fintech," a Nonghyup official said.

The bank will also establish a Smart Financial Center, a pre-step for Internet-only banking in which officials of the bank's cyber branches will be able to communicate with customers through smartphones about products and investment strategies.

The bank said that it will reduce the number of offline branches and instead increase personnel at a center offering consultations for customers. In the long term, the bank will launch an online-based bank.

Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) CEO Kwon Seon-joo also vowed to brace for the paradigm shift in financial services.

She said the bank is considering introducing an Internet-only bank in the form of an affiliate. The bank will also launch "One Bank," an omni-channel service that offers comprehensive banking services, next year.

The multi-financial platform will include money transfers, consulting and the purchase of products through smartphones and other mobile devices.

"So far, only 30 products are available through mobile services. But with this new platform, almost all services that the bank windows provide will be available through online channels," she said in a recent press conference.

KB Financial Group Chairman and Kookmin Bank CEO Yoon Jong-kyoo has pushed ahead with the plan to split a fintech division off from the current smart financial department and expand its partnership with Daum Kakao and Naver to provide fintech services.

Kookmin Bank will provide its private banking services through mobile devices. Under the plan, the bank offers analyses of customers' assets and portfolio using big data such as their income, profession and age for investment strategies.

Shinhan Bank will introduce "TV-money" services in association with Hyungdai Home Shopping in February, which will allow consumers to buy products on home shopping channels through remote control. Consumers can pay the bill through the integrated circuit (IC) card issued by the bank which will be embedded in a TV set-top box or charge the money to their bank accounts.

Woori Bank will launch "smart apartment loans" for customers to take out mortgages via smartphones next year.

The Financial Service Commission (FSC) has been focusing on boosting the fintech sector by pushing to remove regulations in related areas.

The regulator said that it will reshape financial rules based on offline services into online-friendly regulations that cope flexibly with the financial environment shift.

The watchdog said that it will improve outdated practices and rules which run against development of the fintech industry for customers' convenience.

The FSC will come up with comprehensive measures next month to support the industry.


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