Viva Republica’s digital banking venture Toss Bank gets final nod; starts business in September

Korean unicorn startup Viva Republica is all set to enter the banking sector. Its subsidiary Toss Bank, the country’s third internet bank, obtains license approval from the Financial Services Commission (FSC). Toss Bank is expected to officially launch at the end of September through the Toss app, a money-transfer service with 20 million users.

Viva Republica announced that its affiliate, “Toss Innovation Preparation Corporation,” acquired the banking business and changed its name to Toss Bank.  It will be South Korea’s first internet bank created by a FinTech unicorn and the third one after K Bank and KakaoBank. Viva Republica owns a 34 percent share in Toss Bank.

 The Internet-only Bank to focus on marginal consumers  

Through the bank, the FinTech startup wants to embrace the financially underprivileged class of about 13 million people who have difficulties using the existing financial sector. Toss Bank plans to have various users, including high-credit customers and medium- and low-credit users, thin-filers, medium-sized and small business owners, and foreigners residing in Korea.

The startup wants to focus on increasing loans to the less creditworthy and thin filers, those lacking sufficient financial history for full credit analysis, while making financial products and overall banking services more accessible for customers to understand. The bank said that it would offer over 30 percent of its unsecured loans to the less creditworthy and thin filers in its first year. By 2023, the bank aims to expand that portion to 44 percent, the highest among the internet-only banks. 

Toss Bank services will be available within the existing Toss money transfer app. It will be an opportunity for up to 40% of Koreans to quickly and easily access bank services through the Toss app without experiencing inconveniences such as installing a separate app. In particular, 60% of the Toss App subscribers are the M-Z generation (the 20s and 30s) with a relatively poor credit history, consistent with Toss Bank’s direction. Toss Bank will also be offering innovative customer wealth management options and saving products that consumer-centric. 

Toss adds banking after a successful launch of the securities business 

Hong Min-taek, CEO of Toss Bank, said, “As we stand for a bank of inclusiveness and innovation, we will do our best to help more people, including those with low and medium credit, have the experience of the financial sector. When customers think of banks, we will be reborn as a customer-oriented bank so that Toss Bank can come to mind first.”

With the acquisition of Toss Bank, Toss can further spur innovation by entering the banking industry after making a foray into the securities industry. Viva Republica had launched its brokerage arm in March 2021. Toss Securities offers brokerage services for Korean stocks and extends its services to overseas stocks and funds. Toss Securities also operates without any offline branches and is connected to its Toss platform.

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