The Korea Herald


[Global Finance Awards] Kakao Bank at forefront of inclusive finance

Innovator of the Year/Kakao Bank

By Song Jung-hyun

Published : Nov. 30, 2023 - 11:33

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Kakao Bank's logo and a statue of the company's character Ryan are seen at the company's headquarters in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province. (Kakao Bank) Kakao Bank's logo and a statue of the company's character Ryan are seen at the company's headquarters in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province. (Kakao Bank)

Kakao Bank, Korea’s largest internet-only bank, has been leading efforts to achieve financial inclusivity in the industry, by developing various customer-friendly products and services.

Since its founding in 2017, it has been catering to diverse financial needs by rolling out innovative savings accounts such as group savings accounts, 26-week and one-month installment deposit accounts, as well as tailored loan products for those with low credit scores.

Buoyed by its user-friendliness and accessibility, the cumulative number of its signature 26-week installment savings accounts has exceeded 20 million as of August. Meanwhile, its one-month savings account drew 1 million subscriptions within 11 days of its launch in October.

Most notably, the digital lender has been at the forefront of expanding loan supply for those with poor credit scores. Between January and October, it supplied a cumulative amount of some 2.45 trillion won ($1.9 billion) of loans, a record-high amount, to those with medium and low credit scores.

“With inclusive finance as our core management value, we aim to have 30 percent of our total borrowers as low and medium-credit borrowers by the end of this year,” said a Kakao Bank official. As of October, the proportion stood at 28.7 percent.

The rising proportion of its low-credit borrowers is largely driven by the bank's low interest rate and alternative credit scoring system which has facilitated access to loans.

In October alone, Kakao Bank lowered interest rates twice, cutting the rate on unsecured loans to the lowest annual rate of 4.29 percent, to alleviate financial burdens on vulnerable demographics amid protracted economic slumps.

It has also developed an alternative credit rating scheme, called Kakao Bank Score, for low-credit borrowers as well as for thin filers -- those with short financial history.

Since its debut, Kakao Bank has also been providing free cash withdrawals by waiving ATM fees. The cumulative amount, saved by ATM fee exemptions, amounted to some 298.3 billion won by the end of September.

Buoyed by the accessibility and user-friendliness of its services, the bank's customer base at home has increased rapidly. In the third quarter of this year, the total number of its users logged 22.8 million, rising by over 2.5 million on-year.

Meanwhile, the number of its monthly active users posted 13 percent on-year growth, recording an average of 17.44 million in the third quarter this year.