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K bank sees hike in savings on cryptocurrency frenzy

April 7, 2021 - 17:15 By Kim Young-won
K bank’s head office in Gwanghwamun, Seoul (K bank)

K bank, one of South Korea’s largest online banks, saw a significant hike in savings in recent months in line with its operations linked to cryptocurrency trading.

Deposits at the nation’s first online bank exceeded 10 trillion won ($8.96 billion) earlier this month, compared with just 1.85 trillion won in June last year, officials said. The bank held 8.72 trillion won in deposits as of the end of March.

The figure was almost double that of Jeju Bank, whose deposits came to 5.4 trillion won as of last month. Meanwhile, K bank was slightly behind Jeonbuk Bank, which held 15.6 trillion won in savings.

Launched in April 2017, K bank halted its operations for almost 15 months until July last year as it struggled to receive an additional investment from its major stakeholders, which include KT, Woori Bank and BC Card.

The fact that K bank is the only online bank that allows local retail investors to invest in crypto coins via the trading platform Upbit is thought to have boosted the company’s savings growth.

K bank posted a 63.9 percent savings growth rate from end-2019 to end-2020 -- the highest among 12 commercial and online banks, including Shinhan Bank, Kwangju Bank and Kakao Bank.

It took 27 years for Kookmin Bank, one of the largest banks in the nation, to achieve the 10 trillion won milestone, while it took 11 years and eight months for Shinhan Bank.

By Kim Young-won (