Reacting to the untact market trend triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak, South Korea’s financial groups are scrambling to gain an upper hand in digital financing.
Untact, or non-face-to-face, has become a new standard in the local financial industry as consumers are increasingly turning to contactless financial services via smartphones amid fears of the ongoing COVID-19 or other plausible contagious diseases in the future.
While the number of visitors to local bank branches decreased by nearly 40 percent in February from a year earlier, online cash transfers rose by 13.4 percent during the same period, industry sources said.
Woori Financial Group Chairman Son Tae-seung (center, rear row) poses for a photo with executives and employees after celebrating the launch of a digital innovation committee at its headquarters in Seoul on March 15.(Woori Financial Group)
Woori Financial Group, under the leadership of Chairman Sohn Tae-seung, was the pioneer in this responsive move.
Under the new management slogan “Digital First, Change Everything” for the post-coronavirus era, Woori Financial launched a digital innovation committee, a control tower led directly by Chairman Sohn and Woori Bank President Kwon Kwang-seok, officials said on May 17.
“The untact trend has now grown beyond just a temporary trend and become a new normal. Now is the golden time for digital innovation in the finance sector,” said the Woori chief.
The committee will push ahead with various digital innovation projects -- ranging from the acquisition of fintech companies and digital collaboration with other industries. It also established the so-called “BLUE Team” within the group, whereby young and innovative employees create new strategies in line with changing digital trends.
Shinhan Financial Group also recently held a lengthy debate on digital transformation under Chairman Cho Yong-byoung and 200 employees from its subsidiaries, adding weight to its digital drive.
Hana Financial group is currently working on setting up a digital insurance platform through its newly-acquired affiliate, The-K NON-Life Insurance.
Among regional financial institutions, JB Financial Group -- the holding group of Jeonbuk and Kwangju banks -- has launched Digital Community, a study group for leader-level employees to analyze digital financial ecosystems worldwide, officials said.
By Choi Jae-hee (email@example.com)