SEOUL, Jul. 24 (Korea Bizwire) — Kakao Corp., the operator of South Korea’s leading messenger app Kakao Talk, got a nod from the country’s financial regulator Wednesday to raise its stake in the Internet-only bank Kakao Bank.
Kakao Bank, the country’s second Internet-only bank, began operations in July 2017 and quickly gained popularity among local mobile-savvy customers.
Its shareholders include Korea Investment Holdings Co., KB Kookmin Bank, eBay Inc. and China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd.
With the approval, Kakao is allowed to raise its stake in Kakao Bank to 34 percent from the current 18 percent.
Earlier, Kakao said it would buy Kakao Bank stocks worth 208 billion won (US$177 million) from Korea Investment Holdings.
Despite its rapid growth driven by convenient and innovative services, Kakao Bank has yet to diversify its products by increasing its capital base, which currently stands at 1.3 trillion won.
Last September, the National Assembly passed a bill that allows a nonfinancial firm to boost its stake in an internet-only bank beyond a 4 percent ownership ceiling.