2017-12-07 19:41
Korean bank goes innovative with high-tech toys
Shinhan Bank recently set up a “Game Zone” in its Seoul headquarters to help workers adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution in more fun ways. / Courtesy of Pexels

By Ko Dong-hwan

Shinhan Bank CEO Wi Sung-ho has provided PlayStation consoles, virtual-reality gear, a drone simulator and other high-tech toys for employees. / Korea Times file
Shinhan Bank employees could not hide their excitement when they found two PlayStation consoles, virtual-reality gear, a drone simulator and other high-tech toys on the 15th floor of the bank’s headquarters in Jung-gu, Seoul. The place used to be their resting zone but, following the tech-savvy bank chief’s ambitious mandate, it recently transformed into the “Game Zone.”

The first game zone inside the headquarters of a major South Korean bank is not simply CEO Wi Sung-ho’s gift to encourage employees. It is his resolute investment to enlighten them on what the Fourth Industrial Revolution will look like.

In addition to two electronic dart machines that were already there, the venue now has the video game consoles, an augmented reality (AR) camera, virtual-reality (VR) headgear and auxiliary equipment and a controller for a drone simulation program.

“Wi used to highlight the significance of digital innovation,” a Shinhan Bank official said Thursday. “So he ordered the Game Zone, where employees can experience VR and AR stuff.”

South Korean banks are well known for their rigid top-down hierarchical operations, but Shinhan Bank has eased up on the tradition and embraced new trends. When state-of-the-art fintech features emerged as ways to compete, Shinhan Bank decided to follow this path.

Shinhan’s adaptive efforts are particularly evident on the 20th floor of its headquarters, where walls dividing a dining hall for executives and ordinary workers have been torn down. In place of where the executives ate, tables, chairs, sofas and refrigerators have been set up to accommodate workers’ meetings. A special seating section by a window wall is designed for those who like to eat alone.

The bank also formed a “Silicon Valley expedition,” sending five employees to the American hub of technological research and development. Their mission was to learn the advanced country’s latest breakthroughs in information and communications technology.