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(LEAD) Parliament rejects revision bill on internet-only banks

All News 20:47 March 05, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS new info in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) -- The National Assembly on Thursday voted down a bill intended to loosen the eligibility requirement for the largest shareholder of an internet-only bank.

A revision of the Act on Special Cases Concerning Establishment and Operation of Internet-only Banks failed to pass in parliament, as 82 of 184 lawmakers on hand in the plenary session voted against it. Only 75 lawmakers voted for the bill while 27 abstained.

Lawmakers vote on a revision bill on the operation of internet-only banks at the National Assembly in Seoul on March 5, 2020. (Yonhap)

The revision bill calls for removing a record of antitrust and taxation law violations from the eligibility requirement for the largest shareholder of an internet-only bank. Its passage could have paved the way for telecom giant KT Corp. to become the largest shareholder of K-Bank, an internet-only bank launched in 2017. KT has a record of violating the fair trade law.

The current law allows information technology firms to hold as much as a 34-percent stake in an internet-only bank. But the law prohibits a shareholder of an internet-only bank from raising a stake in the bank if the shareholder was punished for violating an antitrust law.

A lawmaker of the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) spoke in favor of the revision bill, saying it would help upgrade the competitiveness of the nation's financial industry.

But many lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and minor parties opposed the revision bill, calling it a favor to KT Corp.

After the vote, UFP lawmakers walked out, claiming the DP reneged on an earlier agreement between the two parties to pass the bill.

The floor leaders of the two parties agreed later in the day to hold a full-member session Friday to vote on other bills, including one that would effectively ban Tada, a ride-hailing service.

At the start of the session, Lee In-young, DP floor leader, will apologize for party members' rejection of the internet bank bill, his deputy said.

The bill will be dealt with in the first plenary session after the April 15 parliamentary elections, he added.


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