SEOUL, Dec. 23 (Korea Bizwire) — The financial regulator said Sunday it can give preliminary approval to two Internet-only banks in May next year, but hinted that only one group could receive approval if another group is unsuccessful.
Two Internet-only banks — K-Bank and Kakao Bank — were launched last year, challenging traditional banks in South Korea and forcing them to cut commission fees and revamp their online and mobile banking services.
Establishing more Internet-only banks is in line with the government’s efforts to reinvigorate the financial sector, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) said in a statement.
The FSC plans to receive applications from groups, which will be headed by Internet or technology firms, in March next year and preliminary approvals will be made about two months later, the FSC said.
“If the number of groups that meet the requirements for Internet-only banks is less than two, the number of approvals could be less than two,” the FSC said.
In September, the National Assembly passed a bill that allows non-financial firms to boost their stake in Internet-only banks beyond the 4 percent ownership ceiling.
The new bill permits non-financial firms to hold up to a 34 percent stake in a web-only bank.