|The logos of K bank and Kakao Bank|
By Anna J. Park
Based on its successful strategic partnerships with the country's largest cryptocurrency exchange, Upbit, K bank is fast growing in its number of customers and in the size of those customers' assets at the bank.
As of early this month, the internet-only bank's accumulated number of customers reached 3.9 million. Given that 1.72 million of them, or 44 percent of the entire customers, are new users who joined the bank during the first three months of this year, K bank's fast growth rate has been impressive enough to threaten its main competitor, Kakao Bank.
K bank attributed the popularity of its online-only mortgage loan products and its strategic partnership with digital asset exchange Upbit as the key to attracting new user groups. The bank's flagship checking accounts, called "Plusbox," giving 0.6 percent annual interest rates for just one day of depositing, also drew customers' attention.
With the surge in the number of users during the first quarter, the internet-only bank's average received balance stood at 8.72 trillion won ($7.78 billion) as of the end of March. The balance increased by around 2 trillion won in just one month since the end of February. The bank's loan balance also increased to 3.83 trillion won at the end of March, which is a jump of around 840 billion won from the end of last year.
Despite the recent growth, K bank still lags behind Kakao Bank, which boasted 138.8 million customers and a received balance of 24.6 trillion won as of the end of February.
In an effort to overtake its competitor in the internet-only banking sector, K bank is set to launch a series of new products, such as small-amount overdraft accounts, more diversified loans, as well as other services partnering with the country's telecommunications service provider KT, which is the parent company of the bank.
Meanwhile, market insiders are closely watching whether K bank could succeed at achieving its first net profit this year; the bank hasn't yet turned around its annual net loss of 105.4 billion won, as of the end of last year. However, the recent spike in both the number of users and transactions is expected to enhance the bank's financial statements in the near future.