|Kakao Bank's Channel Leader Ko Jung-hee speaks during an interview with The Korea Times at the bank in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province, last month. / Courtesy of Kakao Bank|
It brought about groundbreaking change by eliminating a cumbersome verification process that was previously needed to access mobile banking.
Behind such achievements is the bank's channel leader Ko Jung-hee. Ko received a presidential award for her contributions to the development of finance in October, along with two other Kakao Bank employees.
The term "channel" in Ko's title refers to customers' point of contact with the bank. These include the lender's mobile application, its PC website and ATMs.
"Basically, I am in charge of devising the flow and enhancing the UX of all the screens that show up on the bank's mobile app, from creating an account to signing up for certain products," Ko told The Korea Times in an interview held at the bank in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province, last month.
So what is the secret behind the innovative processes and products that have been created?
There are no boundaries when it comes to where Ko gets her ideas.
One of Kakao's key features is that it saves the processes users undergo on the mobile app, so that even when an error comes up, the former stages are saved so that the user does not have to start again from the beginning.
"I got the idea from the draft function for emails or blogs, where users can save their work," Ko said.
Kakao Bank's mobile app was the most widely used among mobile banking apps here, according to data from WiseApp released Thursday.
Many foreign companies and financial authorities from countries including Singapore, Japan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, have visited Kakao Bank to learn about the lender's innovation and rapid growth.
"The bottom line is that the user shouldn't experience trouble or hassle. Our aim is for the app to have consistency ― to make it seem like one person did the design for everything."
Ko says she finds the answer comes from users. Ko is also a user, which is how she comes up ways to improve the experience.
"In order to do so, we make an effort to learn what it is people like and are interested in these days. We keep up with most searched words online, YouTube channels and popular offline products."
Kakao's 26-week deposit came from a product Ko saw online.
"I was thinking that the term of existing deposits were too long. Then one day I came across a four-month scheduler for students on Kakao's online mall. I thought, why can't we also make short-term deposits?"
"It's all about observing and detecting trends," she said.
Financial authorities are currently in the process of reviewing applicants for Korea's third internet bank.
Ko said having more players in the internet bank market will be good for them.
"When we have more players we will be able to offer better services, as there will be competition," she said.
But Ko noted for internet banks to develop further, regulations on facilitating data use are necessary.
In the meantime, Ko said she will continue to tick off the list of tasks she has drawn up for Kakao Bank.
"It has been rewarding for me to see that we have exerted a positive influence on the market. But we have so much more to do," she said.
Ko created the list in the first year she joined the bank in 2016.
"I think it's about five years of work. We are in the process of getting the work done. We haven't even gotten halfway."