Economic development in South Korea over the last half a century has been spectacular. The economy has grown by an average of 7% annually, contracting only in two years for the past 50 years. To serve this ever bourgeoning economy, there are 148 banks consisting of 52 commercial banks, 5 specialized banks, and 91 mutual savings banks.
The Financial Supervisory Service is the one that regulates banks with the responsibility of examining, supervising, and oversight financial institutions. There is also a central bank tasked with the responsibility of maintaining price stability. Discussed are the biggest five banks in South Korea.
1. KB Financial Group
With $431 Billion as total assets as of the end of 2019, KB Financial Group is the largest bank in South Korea. With 26,000 employees and headquarters in Seoul, it had a market capitalization of $16 billion at the end of 2019. It operates through a number of subsidiaries which includeKB Kookmin Bank, KB kookmin card, KB Savings Bank, KB Securities, KB Life Insurance, KB Asset Management, KB Capital, KB Real Estate Trust, and KB Insurance.
Ranking as the 60th largest bank in the world, it was established in 2008 by the Korean government with its origin reported as a merger of other major financial institutions ( Kookmin Bank and Housing & Commercial Bank) in the country. It operates via Corporate banking (loans, overdrafts, deposits, and credit facilities), life insurance, retail banking, credit card, investment, and other banking services.
2. Shinhan Financial Group
It was founded under the trade name Hanseong Bank in 1897, offering retail banking services, corporate banking, international banking, and taking deposits. It has headquarters in Seoul and has so far 871 branches as well as 27 private wealth management service centers, and 14 branches in other countries. To meet the under said, the bank has approximately 21,000 employees with $341 billion as assets at the end of 2019.
It offers retail and corporate banking services through Shinhan Bank and Jeju Bank as well as credit card services and life insurance products through Shinhan Card and Shinhan Life Insurance respectively. It has also been praised for its services on securities brokerage, asset management, leasing and equipment financing, private equity investments, and mobile and internet banking.
Recorded in history to be the first modern bank in Korea, it began its operation by simply loaning money at low-interest rates from Japanese banks and in turn loaning it out to the Korean market twice the rate. This method of operation was highly successful due to the fact that the doubled rate was at the time still lower than it could be obtained at the time in Korea.
The Shinhan bank in current times has reported an equity capital of KRW 9.7 trillion, total deposits, and loans total $192 billion and $184 billion respectively.
3. NongHyup Financial Group
Established in 1961 as a merger of the Agricultural Bank and Agricultural Federation, the group provides financing mortgages, personal lines of credit, corporate finance, real estate finance, and new technology finance services. On top of that, the bank has also ventured into life, property, and casualty insurance products. NongHyup has been documented as the safest bank in the bank in Korea.
The merger was established in efforts to provide a national cooperative system to assist Korean farmers at the time who suffered from insufficient resources and poor capacity, which has since proven successful in terms of growth due to a separate establishment founded solely for agri-business in 2012. It now operates through 1,200 branches and is ranked as the third-largest commercial lender in Korea.
4. Hana Financial Group
Established in 1971, this is the fourth largest bank in South Korea in terms of Assets. It offers fully-fledged banking facilities and services through its subsidiaries which include KEB Hana Bank, KEB Hana Card, Hana Life, Hana Savings Bank, Hana Bank China, Hana Capital, Hana Asset Trust, Hana Investors Services, Hana Alternative Asset Management Company Ltd and Hana Financial Investment Co. Ltd. It has the largest overseas network among the South Korean Banks.
It operates 160 outlets in 24 countries, comprising 23 branches in America, 127 in the Asia Pacific region, and other 10 branches in Europe and the Middle East. It is in 2012, that the bank acquired Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) From Lone Star Funds and Export-Import Bank of Korea.
The business operations of the bank are grouped into four segments:
- The Banking segment which operates loans and reception services to customers.
- The financial Investment segment which operates trading, securities, and brokering investments.
- The Credit Card Segment operates credit cards, cash, and car loan services.
- The other divisions of the bank are involved in new technology, loan and floating loan, life insurance, asset management, office management, facility rental, and financing installments.
5. Woori Financial Group
With 16,000 employees, this is the 5th largest bank in South Korea and offers a number of products and services for retail and corporate customers.
It also offers services through subsidiaries which include Woori Bank, Woori Credit Information Co., Woori Private Equity Asset Management, Woori Fund Service, Woori FIS, and Woori Finance Research Institute. As at the end of 2019, the bank had $303 billion in total assets.
Its formation emerged from a forced merger of the Hanvit, Peace, Kwangju, Kyongnam and Hanaro commercial and investment banks— offering a deposit, loans, bills, settlements, credit card, international online banking services through 1,000 domestic branches.