Internet-only banks lure customers with Tamagotchi-esque savings accounts, digital piggy banks

Advertisement for Toss Bank (Toss Bank) savings account

Advertisement for Toss Bank (Toss Bank) savings account

Saving money is never fun. But combined with a digital pet that grows with the size of your savings, it can be more motivating.

South Korea’s three internet banks – KakaoBank, K bank and Toss Bank – have launched unique products such as Tamagotchi-style savings accounts, mobile joint accounts and digital piggy banks to entice customers drawn to the trends.

Launched last October, Toss Bank has registered 3.6 million users in just eight months through a range of unique savings products and digital-friendly services. One is a Tamagotchi-esque savings account where a user can watch a randomly selected digital pet — turtle, octopus, foal, or ghost — grow with deposits for six months.

The idea of ​​a digital pet has been met with a huge demand as Toss opened 100,000 new accounts within 72 hours of its launch on June 14. Users can deposit a maximum of 1 million won ($773) per month for a total of six months with a 3 percent yield.

“Saving money requires time and patience, and we wanted to turn that time into a fun experience of raising a cute pet for our users,” Toss Bank CEO Hong Min-take told reporters at a media event in Seoul on Tuesday. .

Toss Bank also plans to “soon” launch a joint mobile account, Hong added, which will cater to friends and groups who want to share the account for their favorite activities.

KakaoBank, the number 1 internet bank by users in the country, with 19.13 million users, has rolled out several accounts and services associated with its sister company and top mobile messenger KakaoTalk. In this sense, by May 11.39 million users had opened one of its joint accounts. KakaoTalk currently has approximately 45 million monthly active users in a country of approximately 51 million.

Its 26-week short-term savings account, a rare commodity here, gained high demand when it launched on June 21, registering 150,000 new accounts within 72 hours. The bank’s piggy bank services are also an important product, allowing users to deposit less than 1,000 won money into their mobile account every day. At the end of April, the bank managed about 4.35 million savings accounts.

K bank is somewhat behind its two rivals in providing unique services, but it is the only mobile bank here that offers a real name account for cryptocurrency trading. The partnership with local crypto exchange Upbit, signed in June 2020, has more than tripled its users from 2.19 million in 2020 to about 7 million by the end of 2021.

K bank’s IPO plans, which have been stalled for years, have accelerated as the company filed a preliminary assessment for listing on the Korean market with the Korea Exchange on Thursday. The IPO is expected to be valued at at least 6 trillion won and the company is expected to debut in November, according to market watchers.

Korea’s internet-only banks have grown rapidly in recent years, supported by an increase in smartphone use and keeping traditional lenders on their toes with easy-to-use services.

KakaoBank’s revenues grew about 80 percent year-on-year in 2021, with net income of 204.12 billion won, according to a regulatory filing. Operating profit more than doubled to 256.94 billion won during the period, and sales also increased 32.4 percent year-over-year to 1.06 trillion won.

K bank posted a net profit of 22.4 billion won last year, leaping in the dark from a net loss of 105.4 billion won the previous year.

Toss Bank, which is relatively new to the market, has not yet disclosed its earnings. Total loans last month amounted to about 4 trillion won, of which 36 percent were taken out by low- and medium-rated customers.

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