Banking and Finance have always been heavily regulated in Korea. However, things have started to change with Korea embracing Fintech technologies like blockchain and mobile payment apps. The barriers that have restricted the growth of Fin-Tech in Korea have been lifted with the government taking away lots of regulations and restrictions for companies and banks. Korea is finally catching up with the United States and China.
The centralized debt management/financial information management infrastructure is there in Korea, which is optimal for the potential growth of fin tech. There have already been many breakout startups like LENDIT, Chungho Easy Cash, and 42 Company. However, Viva Republica is considered by many experts as being the hottest fin tech startup in Korea at the moment.
Korea is only one of a hand full of countries that have pushed for centralized policies when it comes to financial information management, the others being the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Germany. This allows Korea to manage big sets of data which can lead to innovation in fin tech.
Viva Republica’s Toss is a mobile payments app that is very simple to use and only has three steps. Banking systems in Korea have always been very difficult with many steps to take online. With the simplicity of Toss, they were able to generate $2 billion in gross transaction volume. They average about $330-$420 million transactions per month. That is expected to grow every month since Korea is a much safer lending market due to its low default rate than other countries.
Viva Republica got $22.5 million in investments last year. With the investment, they plan on launching a new financial service that deals with loans and overseas remittances and donations. All this will be under their current app. Toss. Their main competitor will be LENDIT which is considered Korea’s top P2P lending operator. As the P2P industry begins to expand, as more and more financial firms will begin to show interest through partnerships. The battle will be interesting to see which of the two comes out on top by the end of 2017.