Kakao Corp Bids on Internet-Banking Licenses

The South Korean government is looking to raise the level of South Korea’s capital markets by strengthening the competitiveness of the South Korean exchange market because there has been a lack of growth in the financial sector over the past decade. The country's Financial Services Commission (FSC) is offering two domestic Internet-banking licenses to bid on. Additionally, the FSC will strive to realize Creative Finance, rebuild trust in financial markets and ensure financial stability in 2015.

Kakao Corp. is the operator of South Korea's largest mobile messaging app and is one of three interested bidders looking to obtain a license, the other two companies being KT and Interpark. To further gain favor and strengthen their chance to be a viable player in the space, Kakao has partnered up with Tencent Holdings Ltd. and eBay Inc. Both Kakao and eBay recently had a change in leadership; Paul Pressler was appointed to eBay’s Board of Directors in September 2015 and Ji Hoon Rim was nominated to be the new CEO of Kakao in August.

Ji Hoon Rim set the bar high when he was nominated by stating in a press release, I will do my best to accelerate Daum Kakao’s transformation to become not only a prominent mobile company in Korea but also a competitive player in the global market.

Less than two months later, the company had already made noticeable changes. The company's name changed from Daum Kakao to Kakao and with a new logo and branding, Kakao is strengthening their identity as a mobile lifestyle platform leader. On his first day as the new CEO he stated, Focusing on the keywords mobile and connection, I will strive to further the global competitiveness of the company by bringing greater speed to the company. Also, I will work to foster a culture that supports the realization of innovative ideas to bring our platform competitiveness to the fullest.

Although a decision on the winning bids is expected to be announced next year in 2016, Kakao will continue to leverage their current mobile products. Mobile payment service KakaoPay currently has three million subscribers and is expected to be adopted by more than 60 retailers.

Kakao partnered with the Korea Financial Telecommunications and Clearings Institute (KFTC) and 16 South Korean banks to launch BankWalletKakao November 2014. The product is a mobile banking service that incorporates KakaoTalk’s ubiquitous messaging platform. A standalone app available in South Korea for both Android and iOS, BankWalletKakao provides KakaoTalk users with convenient and secure access to bank transfers, online payments, and ATM cards.

About Kakao Corp.:

Kakao opens the door to a new world of mobile communication. Kakao’s platform and flagship app is KakaoTalk, which offers free in-app texting and voice calls as well as a platform for a whole world of mobile services that make lives richer and more social. KakaoTalk has over 150 million users worldwide, including 93% of smartphone users in South Korea. In 2013, Kakao generated approximately $200 million in revenue through digital content, gaming, mobile commerce and its marketing channels for brands and celebrities. For more about Kakao, click here.