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(Yonhap Interview) Deregulation key to beefing up fintech industry: agency chief

All Headlines 11:33 April 12, 2018

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea must move quickly to strengthen fundamentals in its financial technology sector by extending systematic support and pushing forward deregulation, the head of a local fintech association said Thursday.

"The local financial sector has largely been closed for the sake of safety and security, and the focus has been on supporting big institutions, which I believe has deprived the industry of chances for innovation," said Kim Dae-youn, the chief of the Korea Fintech Industry Association (KORFIN), in an interview with Yonhap News Agency. He stressed that change must be undertaken as the sector faces stiff competition from abroad.

Citing "borderless" as a key word to define the global financial industry in the near future, Kim called for measures "to help the fintech sector to arm itself with a strong foundation within the next couple of years to cope with a myriad of stiff challenges."

In February, Kim was selected as the president of the KORFIN, which is an association of around 240 entities related to financial technology, such as peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders, overseas remittance firms and cryptocurrency exchanges.

Kim himself heads a local P2P financial firm, PeopleFund.

The fintech sector still accounts for a fraction of the overall financial industry in South Korea, but its services have rapidly won young and tech-savvy customers. Last year, fintech apps marked the biggest growth in the country's smartphone app market, such as mobile payments and financial transactions.

In order to nurture the fintech sector as the country's next leading industry, the representative said there is a pressing need for deregulation and legal support.

"As one of key tasks, (the government) should allow fintech firms to gain easier access to customers' credit information," Kim said, noting that fintech service providers are not entitled to directly use the information now that is forcing customers to submit such data to fintech firms in person.

"Better access will enable companies to offer diverse services, and boost user convenience by reducing the complex process required for financial transactions," he said.

Kim Dae-youn, the chief of the Korea Fintech Industry Association, speaks in an interview with Yonhap News Agency in Seoul on April 12, 2018. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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